Ponting says banter is part of the game - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Ponting says banter is part of the game

By Joseph Sapienza And Greg Buckle 13/12/2005 10:00:36 PM Comments (0)

Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting has shrugged off controversy over the verbal sparring but predicted a "pretty intense" Test series against South Africa.

International Cricket Council (ICC) chief Malcolm Speed caused a stir on Monday by singling out Australia and South Africa for mention over recent pre-series jousting in the media as he issued a general caution following a spate of code of conduct offences in international cricket.

But Ponting saw nothing untoward in the player comments, which have come from the likes of South African skipper Graeme Smith and Shane Warne.

"I'm pretty comfortable with what's happened so far in the press, which is all that we can go on," Ponting said in Perth on Tuesday ahead of the first Test starting at the WACA on Friday.

"Banter is part of our game and so far the build up to this Test series looks like it is going to be pretty intense. But it has just been some pretty light-hearted banter.

"Our on-field record speaks for itself over the last couple of years and we'll make sure when we go into the game on Friday that we're upholding the spirit of the game as best as we possibly can."

Speed said in his statement on Monday: "There have also been a series of comments by players and former players ahead of the Australia v South Africa series that I believe make it necessary to remind the players of the importance of playing within the spirit of the game ahead of this series."

Asked if Speed was being unfair on the two sides, Ponting said: "All the Australian players certainly know where the line in the sand is drawn and as long as no one's outside of that we should be fine.

"There have been a few articles written in the papers the last few days which, you know, adds a little bit to the contest I guess, but as I said, I'm really happy with what's happened so far," Ponting added.

Ponting said it would be a challenge for his side to adjust to the bouncy WACA wicket after last week's one-day series in New Zealand.

But he added three days of training at the WACA would "hopefully" be enough time.

South Africa has a bigger concern with the elbow injury to star all-rounder and world No.1-ranked batsman Jacques Kallis, who may struggle to be fit for Friday's first Test.

"I think that will hurt them quite a lot (if Kallis doesn't play)," Ponting said.

"He's obviously one of the best batsmen in the world at the moment, if not the best."

Australia's fastest bowler Brett Lee said he always loved coming to Perth because of the extra bounce and pace of the WACA pitch.

But with the match seemingly guaranteed to be an explosive confrontation, the fiery quick says he is staying out of the verbal battles.

"As far as any sledging or gamesmanship, I'd much rather let the bowling do the talking," said Lee who added his focus will be on dismissing Kallis cheaply.

With Kallis in doubt, South Africa's Jacques Rudolph has strengthened his selection chances with an unbeaten 201 in South Africa's second innings of 9-395 declared on the third day of the three-day tour game against Western Australia A.

Australia's leading paceman Glenn McGrath has the flu and missed training on Tuesday.

"He's flying in tonight. We believe he's fine and he's improving and he's expected to train with the team tomorrow," team spokeswoman Belinda Dennett said.

Former Australian left-arm paceman, Western Australia's Bruce Reid was at the WACA nets giving some tuition to the Australian bowlers on Tuesday.

Following criticism that Australia's Ashes series defeat was due partly to not having a full-time bowling coach, Cricket Australia this week announced Troy Cooley would be handed the role from May next year in preparation for the 2006-07 Ashes series.

A former Tasmanian bowler, Cooley has been England's fast bowling coach since May 2003 after having worked at the old Australian Cricket Academy in Adelaide.

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