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Ponting follows Gilchrist on Sydney issue

November 07, 2008 22:59 IST

After former wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist created quite a stir with his revelations about the infamous Sydney Test in his book, it is the turn of skipper Ricky Ponting to give his take on the racism row that shook world cricket.

In his 'Captain's Diary 2008: A season of Tests, Turmoil and Twenty20', Ponting defended Andrew Symonds, who had accused Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh of racially abusing him, and said the all-rounder was genuinely "hurt" by what had been hurled at him.

The Australian skipper said when he heard Michael Clarke yell across to him at the SCG about Harbhajan Singh, "He's done it again ... he just called Symmo a monkey again",  he was just rooted to the ground.

"I wouldn't say (Clarke's) words sent a chill up my spine or anything that sinister, but they certainly stopped me in my tracks," Ponting recounted in his book an extract of which was published in The Herald Sun.

"(I thought) I've got to act on it. I talked to Symmo, to get his version ... then I went over and told umpire Mark Benson what we believed had just gone on, and I asked him to do something about it.

"Benson walked over to Harbhajan and Tendulkar, put his hand over his mouth so he couldn't be lip-read, and, I presume, asked Harbhajan if he had said what we were accusing him of saying.

"Harbhajan said he hadn't. Benson went back to his position, while I made a point, as I walked past the two batsmen on my way to the slip cordon, to say to the Indian spinner, 'I hope you haven't said that again.'

"To which Tendulkar promptly replied, 'Leave it alone. I'll fix this, I'll sort this out.' But it was too late for that. I'd already spoken to the umpire. It was out of my hands ..." Ponting narrated about that infamous showdown.

Ponting also said that he had a chat with Cricket Australia Chief Executive James Sutherland after stumps who asked what the skipper wanted to do with the subject. 

"I said that if Harbhajan was found guilty, then I wanted him to be accountable for his actions. I also wanted Symmo to know his captain, his teammates and the game supported him.

"(Racism) was not something I'd thought about when I was a kid from Mowbray in northern Tasmania, hoping to one day play cricket for my country. But from the day racial abuse by spectators became a big issue in cricket, I'd given it plenty of thought and had come down very firmly in the 'zero tolerance' camp.

"I'd seen the genuine hurt in my mate's eyes as he explained to us how much a slur of this kind upset him.

"If events on the field had played out as we believed they had ... a verdict against Harbhajan would demonstrate clearly that cricket was fair dinkum about eradicating this blight from our game."

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