Aussie cricketers still role models

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Melbourne, May 7 : The reputation of Australian players remains untarnished in spite of the confrontations they had with the Indian team during their tour of Australia in December and January, reports The Australian.

According to a research conducted on behalf of Cricket Australia by pollsters Roy Morgan, 83 per cent of the respondents from a sample of some 50,000 Australians regarded Ricky Ponting's men as good role models for their children.

The polling may come as a bit of a surprise following the controversy-filled summer where the bad blood between the Australian and Indian teams regularly boiled over.

Ponting's men were accused by Indian captain Anil Kumble of not playing in the spirit of the game at one stage, one of the gravest insults that can be delivered in the sport.

The visiting team also threatened on several occasions to boycott the tour unless Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh was cleared of racially abusing Andrew Symonds.

Charges against Harbhajan were watered down on appeal and the tourists completed their full schedule but slanging matches continued on and off the field between the two sides.

The Australian team has been renowned for its uncompromising approach to the game, but the side has tried in recent years under Ponting to improve its behaviour.

The pollsters found that more Australians watched cricket than any other sport with 47 per cent tuning in to watch the national team in action at least "occasionally".

The next best was the AFL (41 per cent), tennis (33 per cent), NRL (25 per cent), golf (18 per cent) rugby union (10 per cent) and the A-League (eight per cent).

However data showed they still had work to do in engaging female audiences along with other major sports.

The figures showed 36 per cent of women say they watch cricket on TV ahead of the AFL (34 per cent), tennis (33 per cent) and NRL (18 per cent).

ANI

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