Shastri backs Ponting over Motera dressing room incident

Melbourne, Feb 26 (PTI) Reprimanded and criticised fordamaging a TV set inside the dressing room during a World Cupmatch at Ahmedabad, Australian skipper Ricky Ponting found asympathiser in player-turned-commentator Ravi Shastri, whosaid such incidents are not new in international cricket.

"Everyone''s human and the dressing-room has been the onlyplace you can vent your feelings. You take out yourfrustrations and then it''s over. Far worse has been done thanbroken televisions," the former India player said.

Shastri defended Ponting over the incident, saying publicdisclosure of the matter represented a gross invasion of aplayer''s right to privacy.

"The dressing-room is like a temple, a church, a mosqueor a gurudwara.

"What happens in a dressing-room stays in a frickingdressing-room. If anyone was to reprimand Ponting it shouldhave been Cricket Australia. If he''s broken a TV he has to payhis dues for that and get on with it," he told The WeekendAustralian.

"But as far as an official hanging around dressing-roomsis concerned, I say very clearly there is no way he would havehad a sniff of the dressing room in our day," he said.

Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) registered a complaintwith the BCCI after Ponting smashed an LCD television set inthe dressing room during his side''s World Cup opener againstZimbabwe.

The incident occurred immediately after Ponting was runout on 28 by a direct hit from Chris Mpofu in a group A clashbetween Australia and Zimbabwe on February 20.

The incident, though, seems to have ignited debate overthe right to privacy of the sporting competitors, and theinsatiable hunger of 24x7 media which is ever ready to presenteven the minutest of the incidents, denting the dignity of thegame.

"It''s getting tougher and tougher to be a sporting figurethese days because the media spectrum has broadened to anextent where you''re literally public property," Shastriviewed.

Ponting later apologised for his act and admitted thatthere was "a limit (to how much) you can let off steam in adressing-room".

"It is a pretty sacred sort of place, an internationalcricket team dressing-room, but there''s a line that you can''toverstep and when some equipment is damaged in the change-roomthen I accept the responsibility for that happening the otherday, albeit by total accident and with no malice involved init whatsoever.

"What''s happened has happened. I''d like to be able totake it back but I can''t. Now we''ve just got to move on," theskipper had said in the aftermath of the incident.

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