NEW DELHI, (Reuters) – The widespread criticism of Australia’s cricket culture following last month’s ball-tampering scandal in South Africa is rather exaggerated, former captain Ricky Ponting said on Thursday.
Cricket Australia (CA) has slapped 12-month bans on Steve Smith and David Warner, while suspending Cameron Bancroft, who was caught using a piece of sandpaper on the ball in the Cape Town test, for nine months following the controversy which rocked cricket in Australia.
The fallout prompted Darren Lehmann to step down as the coach while many, including South Africa coach Ottis Gibson, felt Australia paid price for their win-at-all-costs mentality.
“The cultural issue for me is really an interesting thing,” Ponting, head coach of the Delhi Daredevils team in the Indian Premier League (IPL), told a news conference.
“Because if we wind the clock back just a couple of months, when Australia won the Ashes like they did, there was no talks about cultural problems or issues whatsoever,” he said.
“I honestly feel on this occasion the cultural stuff that’s been spoken about has probably been blown out of proportion to a certain degree.”
Australia’s two-time World Cup winning captain said he was “shocked” by the controversy.
“As Australians, we like to play the game hard, we like to play the game fair. Fans expect the Australian player to play that way,” he added.
“I think the reaction back in Australia was as big as it was because the Australian public felt the Australian players had not played the game in a fair way.”
The Australian Cricketer’s Association (ACA) has questioned the severity of the CA punishments but the trio have accepted their sanctions.
“There’s a very big picture there for the world game’s sake and Cricket Australia, I think, have reacted to what the world game pretty much demanded,” Ponting said.
“The world game and the Australian public demanded that these players were dealt with and treated in a certain way.”
He was pleased, however, that the controversy was finally dying down.
“It’s a good thing for cricket in Australia… Now that the test series is over, the guys have got a few weeks to get away from it all and then start rebuilding what has sort of collapsed for them over the last couple of weeks.”