Sack Ponting from captaincy now: Peter Roebuck


Sydney : Former Somerset captain Peter Roebuck Monday called for sacking Australia captain Ricky Ponting in the aftermath of the umpiring and racial issues that tainted the home side’s win in the second Test here Sunday.

Support TwoCircles

“Ricky Ponting must be sacked as captain of the Australian cricket team,” said renowned cricket writer Roebuck in the Sydney Morning Herald.

“If Cricket Australia (CA) cares a fig for the tattered reputation of our national team in our national sport, it will not for a moment longer tolerate the sort of arrogant and abrasive conduct seen from the captain and his senior players over the past few days,” he wrote in Tuesday’s edition of the paper posted on its website.

Umpires Steve Bucknor of the West Indies and Mark Benson of England gave several wrong decisions and Andrew Symonds alleged that Harbhajan made racial comments against him in Australia’s 122-run win that gave the team a 2-0 lead in the four-Test series.

The two issues snowballed into a major controversy Monday with the Indian cricket board formally asking the International Cricket Council (ICC) to rescind Harbhajan’s three-Test ban and remove the two umpires from the last two Tests.

The Anil Kumble-led Indian team, which was scheduled to fly out to Canberra Monday morning, stayed put in Sydney until a word came that the demands were met.

Roebuck, under whose captaincy India’s Sunil Gavaskar once played for Somerset, termed Australia’s win within four days the “ugliest” in two decades.

“Beyond comparison, it was the ugliest performance put up by an Australian side for 20 years. The only surprising part of it is that the Indians have not packed their bags and gone home. There is no justice for them in this country, nor any manners,” wrote the former opening batsman.

Roebuck took to task the senior Australian players.

“That the senior players in the Australian team are oblivious to the fury they raised among many followers of the game in this country and beyond merely confirms their own narrow and self-obsessed viewpoint,” he said.

“Doubtless they were not exposed to the messages that poured in from distressed enthusiasts aghast to see the scenes of bad sportsmanship and triumphalism presented at the SCG during and after the Test. Pained past players rang to express their disgust.”

The Englishman was severe on the conduct of the Australian players.

“It was a wretched and ill-mannered display and not to be endured from any side, let alone an international outfit representing a proud sporting nation,” he felt.

“Make no mistake, it is not only the reputation of these cricketers that has suffered. Australia itself has been embarrassed. The notion that Ponting can hereafter take the Australian team to India is preposterous.”

Roebuck defended Harbhajan, touching upon the emotional cord.

“Harbhajan Singh can be an irritating young man but he is head of a family and responsible for raising nine people. And all the Australian elders want to do is to hunt him from the game,” he wrote.

“Australian fieldsmen fire insults from the corners of their mouths, an intemperate Sikh warrior overreacts and his rudeness is seized upon. It might impress barrack room lawyers.”

Roebuck also called for the retirement of opener Matthew Hayden and wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist.

“Ponting has not provided the leadership expected from an Australian cricket captain and so must be sacked. On this evidence the time has also come to thank Hayden and Gilchrist for their services,” he said.

“All will look back on this match not as their finest hour but their worst. Obviously, a new captain and side is required. But that is a task for another day. It is possible to love a country and not its cricket team.”