Sydney, Jan.31 : Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting has ignited another controversy by saying the public must not judge modern cricketers by the "civil and gentlemanly" standards of the 1950s.
"I think one thing that a lot of people overlook is that we are not playing cricket in the 1950s and a lot of people I think are still living in the 1950s. It's now a fully professional game. It's not a game of just going out there and having a bit of a bat and a bowl and having a laugh and giggle with the opposition.This is fully fledged international sport played by fully professional athletes and we are trying to do the best by the game and by the Australian public and the on-field umpires and everyone involved in the game," news.com.au quoted Ponting as telling Fairfax Radio.
He was responding to calls made by Australia's Governor-General Sir Michael Jeffery, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and former "Invincible" Neil Harvey for more civility on the cricket field in the wake of this summer's acrimonious Test series against India.
Jeffery had even called for a return to "fundamental courtesies and good manners" on Wednesday.
"Sometimes tempers can get a little bit out of line, but the challenge for us now, as I've said to the guys over the last few weeks, is just to take a little step back and have a little think about your actions before you actually act," Ponting said, adding that his team was always prepared to take criticism on board, but denied that his team lacked sportsmanship.
"We are not too good, not too big for criticism. We'll sit back and listen to it and a lot of the times actually cop it and go away and try and make ourselves better next time these sort of things happen. As far as sportsmanship on the field is concerned, I think that is a little bit off the mark," he added.
Ponting said the ICC's code of conduct prevented him from commenting on the dropping of racial abuse charges against Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh earlier this week.
But he took a swipe at Harvey, one of five surviving members Don Bradman's 1948 Invincibles team, and a regular critic of current players.
"For some reason, I'm not sure what it is, Neil Harvey seems to be the hardest man in the world to please where modern cricket is concerned," Ponting said.
"He's also the first one that any journalist around Australia would ring because they know he is going to give a negative reaction to this team.
"And to tell the truth there is no one in our current team, and I don't think there's too many around Australia that actually sit back and listen to what Neil Harvey has got to say."