Aussies play their cricket hard but fair: Flemming

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Wellington, Jan 11 (UNI) Former New Zealand capatin Stephen Flemming has expressed his surprise over the way Australian captain Ricky Ponting was criticised by the Aussies for his lack of spirit in the controversial Sydney Test.

''The intensity of the debate, and the situation where the Australians are being criticised by their own, is probably the greatest surprise,'' Flemming said.

He said the mistakes made by umpires could have been due to the pressure created by the Aussies and that is how they play their cricket which is hard but fair.

''They play hard over there - they do create pressure on the umpires by playing hard, constant cricket,'' he said.

He said Ponting's side can not be held guilty of pressurising the umpires as even Ponting was given out leg before when the replays clearly showed that he got a big inside edge.

''How do you deem pressure? Is it excessive appealing? Is it appealing ball after ball if it hits the pads or is it having 10 fielders around the bat? ''To say you're putting pressure on the umpires there has to be a set standard of rules so you know when you've gone over the line,'' he said.

The former black caps' skipper said even though the ICC is working on to improve the way the game is played but a mistakes and errors are bound to be committed whenever there's competition.

''The [International Cricket Council] has attempted to do that but there's always going to be a grey area when there's competition involved.

''If we keep diluting it the game can become a bit boring. To have a bit of controversy when you're not involved is not a bad thing,'' he said.

However, Flemming did mention that racism is something that needs to be eliminated from the game and said Andrew Symonds' claims of Harbhajan Singh calling him a monkey were serious.

''The Harbhajan aspect is interesting,'' he said. ''It sounds like there is a case there to be answered, it's the player's word against another - without the match officials it's very messy.

''It does look a little bit school-boyish, though the racial issue does cause concern for a lot of players. There's been a big push to stamp it out.'' However, three former New Zealand cricketers John Morrison, Dipak Patel and Simon Doull said they were staggered by the double standards of the Australian team.

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