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Monday, January 14, 2008

Olive branch or plea bargain of sorts offered

Tonight comes news that India has withdrawn its charge against Brad Hogg.

Earlier today, in the column appearing under his name in The Australian with the headline "Team pledge to learn from past" Ricky Ponting fudged a bit but seemed, if not contrite, then a little more open than he'd been before to a broader view of the situation:

I have been surprised by the reaction of some in the broader community who believe we did not play that amazing Sydney Test in the spirit of the game.

We take the spirit of cricket very seriously and are determined to ensure we are not only remembered as a good team but one that is respected throughout the cricket world for the way we play.

That is why I led a meeting this afternoon of our team and other cricket officials, where we revisited our spirit of cricket pledge.

We looked back at last week's game and discussed little areas where we believed we could improve things.

No-one is beyond criticism or bigger than the game.

Life's all about learning little things day by day, and it's no different playing in a successful cricket team.

You always find little ways of improving yourself.

I know, and the players know, that we are not going to keep everyone happy 100 per cent of the time.

I am always happy to cop that sort of criticism and go away and find ways and means of how we can make things better, as we all are. We are certainly not brushing off the criticism because if there is a public reaction like there has been; there are some areas we need to improve.

I know when I was given out in the first innings in Sydney I should have left straight away instead of hanging around for a few seconds, and I know I should not have lobbed my bat into the dressing room.

Michael Clarke also knows that he should have gone straight away too, after cutting the ball to first slip. He knows he did the wrong thing, but at the time he was just shocked at how he had got out first ball.

I believe there are no glaring issues we need to address, but when they are all added together in the heat of such a tense and dramatic final day, they caused a reaction, so we need to tighten up on how we play.

We are very keen to ensure we get the balance of how we play the game right so we can focus clearly on another very big match coming up, this time the third Test in Perth, with the possibility of a record 17th consecutive win if we're good enough in this game.

Elsewhere, while Sunil Gavaskar , chair of the ICC Cricket committee, has criticised Second Test match referee Mike Procter for "taking the white man's word against that of the brown man", Peter Roebuck hopes that "the peace pipes have been smoked in both camps" (in my western movie watching experience peace pipes were smoked in one camp, not two).

The Australian Open tennis started today, so that will deflect some of the attention away from cricket, at least in this country, for the next day or so before it's game on, or battle resumed, or whatever.

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