Ugly streak of petulance that blights Ponting


Ricky Ponting’s outburst at both umpires when Kevin Pietersen was given not out by technology was not a reflection of the fact that the Australian captain is under a huge amount of pressure – he has always been like that.
I do not mind players showing passion and aggression and, now I’m on the sidelines, I have to constantly remind myself what it was like on the field.
It is not always easy to stay calm and collected and think about the image of the game as you act.
I admire Ponting for many things, not least for the passion he commits to showing the way he wants to lead Australia, but he overstepped the line here and he has done it several times before. He has been a great player and a very good captain but there is an ugly side to the way he confronts umpires and it is a character trait that has led to a lot of disciplinary action over the years.
Perhaps Ponting does it to try to galvanise his side and show them how important the Ashes is. But now I have kids and I watch a lot of school sports, I know that youngsters really do copy the big stars’ behaviour, and if they see Ponting on TV treating the umpires with a lack of respect they will think it is OK for them to do the same.
I do not want to be like a footballer waving an imaginary card at the ref, and I do not like to call upon the ICC to take action against any cricketer, but Ranjan Madugalle, the match referee here, is a strong character. So I was not surprised there was a fine. The question is, will it matter one iota to Ponting if he is disciplined now? He has been penalised before and it doesn’t seem to have made any difference. Will it make a difference to him at this stage of his career?
There are cultural differences too. I’m not sure all Australians, generally speaking, are brought up in grade cricket to respect umpires the way hopefully young players still are in England. I remember when Mark Waugh came to Essex, he launched a stream of invective at an umpire who called him for a no-ball after turning down an lbw decision and we were all taken aback.
English players are not squeaky clean, but I don’t think most would do that sort of thing. What I do know is that the ICC are very quick to take action against the small guys – like West Indies off-spinner Shane Shillingford – who was suspended last week for an illegal bowling action, but do not often go for the big fish of the game.
They must not be afraid to make a judgment on the sport’s biggest names if they are guilty of misdemeanours. Australia bowled a lot better yesterday and had better plans and it will be a slight concern to England’s team director Andy Flower that there was again something of a soft underbelly to their batting, even though they moved into a formidable position on day two here at the MCG.
Flower was not impressed with the way his batsmen played the swinging ball from Mitchell Johnson in Perth and he will not be pleased at how they reacted to the same bowler delivering short stuff in Melbourne. Paul Collingwood and Ian Bell gifted him their wickets. Not, though, Jonathan Trott. He was magnificent again yesterday and seems to be almost unnoticed when he goes about his business.
Opposing bowlers struggle to know how to bowl at Trott, and Australia had at least four plans for him yesterday.
Daily Mail