Ponting defends Australia’s ‘very strong’ culture
FORMER Test captain Ricky Ponting has launched a spirited defence of Australia's under-siege cricket culture while predicting a "vastly different" environment under the leadership of Justin Langer and Tim Paine.
Still reeling from the South Africa ball-tampering scandal, Cricket Australia is investigating claims from England allrounder Moeen Ali that he was sledged on the basis of his religion and appearance during his Ashes debut in 2015.
Australia's cricketing culture has been scrutinised in two independent reviews following the suspensions handed to Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft.
A player behaviour charter arising from one of those probes is expected to be signed off before the home summer.
But Ponting believes the Cape Town saga has fuelled unwarranted criticism of the national team's culture which he described as "very strong".
"We know the reason that a lot of that stuff started, don't we?," he said in Melbourne on Tuesday.
"A lot of stuff's been made about the culture around the team on the back of the one issue in South Africa. There wasn't anything spoken about the culture of the team before that, really.
"I've been around the team a fair bit since the Australian summer last year with the T20 triangular series (in New Zealand) and the five one-dayers in England.
"The culture of the Australian cricket team has always been very, very good and very strong."
Moeen has claimed that an unnamed Australian player called him 'Osama' - a reference to dead Muslim terrorist Osama bin Laden - during the 2015 Ashes series-opener in Cardiff.
Writing in his autobiography, Moeen said: "It was a great first Ashes Test in terms of my personal performance, however there was one incident which had distracted me.
"An Australian player turned to me on the field and said, 'Take that, Osama'. I could not believe what I had heard. I remember going really red. I have never been so angry on a cricket field."
The player involved denied making the slur when confronted about it. Cricket Australia has promised to seek further clarification from the England and Wales Cricket Board "as a matter of urgency".
"Remarks of this nature are unacceptable and have no place in our sport, or in society ... we take this matter very seriously," a CA spokesman said.
Ponting did not specifically address Moeen's allegation but conceded there had been incidents involving the national team where "things got a little bit out of hand" and there was an appetite for change among the general public.
"The thing you have to remember about Australian cricket is you can do everything right for 10 years and have one little incident, and all of a sudden it's back to the ugly Aussies again," he said.
"Australian cricket's been fighting that trend and that label for 30 or 40 years.
"But I can guarantee you with Justin being in control now and the people he'll have around him and Tim Paine as captain, things will be vastly different going forward."