Aussies turn on their under-fire team


Last updated at 21:23 09 January 2008

Ricky Ponting admitted yesterday that his parents had been forced to change

their phone number after receiving several abusive calls, as the backlash within Australia against their 'arrogant' cricket team reached fever pitch.

With the fall-out from the

second Test of the so-called

'Bollyline' series against India

raging on unchecked, the host

captain found himself catapulted

into the eye of the storm.

Ricky Ponting and Harbhajan


Harbhajan Singh's alleged racist

'monkey' taunt aimed at Andrew

Symonds has been the catalyst

for a sudden crisis in the

international game, Ponting and his

team are also in the firing line.

It appears that although

Australians love a winner, they are beginning to tire of the sight

of their winners in whites

behaving in an overtly aggressive

and confrontational manner.


home side snatched victory in

Sydney on the strength of some

questionable decisions in their

favour and relentless, often

dubious appealing.

With the

usual dose of sledging thrown in

for good measure, their own

public have finally turned on them.

After ex- Somerset captain,

Peter Roebuck — now a cricket

writer Down Under — urged

Cricket Australia to sack Ponting,

a poll in the Sydney Morning

Herald has revealed that 60 per

cent of respondents agree.

Furthermore, some 43 per cent of

more than 50,000 people who

responded derided their own

national team as one that can

'dish it out, but can't take it'.

Amid this atmosphere of recrimination, Ponting revealed

his parents had been targeted by

irate callers.

'There were a few

people who rang in the past few

days, having a dig,' he said.

Ponting rejected suggestions

that he and his side were

arrogant but Pakistan coach and

former Australia fast bowler

Geoff Lawson spoke for many

when he said: 'As an ex-Australian

player, I was pretty disappointed.

'Perception is everything and the

outside world thinks that this

Australian team is arrogant.'

So much mud has been hurled

at Ponting and Co in the past 48

hours that Cricket Australia chief

executive James Sutherland felt

moved to provide shelter from

the barrage with an unequivocal

defence of the players.

'The Australian team plays

tough and uncompromising,' he

said. 'Test cricket is what is being

played, it is not tiddlywinks.'

Sutherland claimed Ponting

had offered to meet his Indian

counterpart Anil Kumble ahead

of next week's third Test in Perth

to iron out any


He also dismissed fears that

the tourists will pull out of the

series if Harbhajan's three-Test

ban is not overturned.

New Zealand High Court judge

John Hansen has been appointed

to hear the India spinner's

appeal, which ICC chief Malcolm

Speed claims may take place

before the next Test.

Speed insisted the decision to

replace umpire Steve Bucknor

with Kiwi Billy Bowden for the

Perth Test was a 'diplomatic'


The 61-year- old was

guilty of several decisive errors in

Sydney, prompting India to

successfully call for his demotion.

However, former Australia fast

bowler Glenn McGrath spoke up

in defence of the 120-Test veteran,

saying: 'I have a lot of respect for

the umpires and I think Steve's

very good.'