SYDNEY:A defiant Australian skipper Ricky Ponting maintained that he did nothing wrong by reporting Harbhajan Singh for "racially abusing" Andrew Symonds and felt his Indian counterpart Anil Kumble has been unfair in his criticism of the host team's lack of sportsmanship.
"It is a shame that this issue has come to dominate the Test because from my point of view I believe that overall both the Melbourne and Sydney Tests were played in terrific spirit."
"This is not something we take lightly so it is surprising and disappointing to hear Anil Kumble suggest that we did not play within that spirit in Sydney," Ponting wrote in his column for 'The Australian'.
"I like Anil as a bloke and admire him as a cricketer and now captain. I have always felt he played his cricket in the right way, hard but fair. And I believe that is what we do, too."
Ponting asserted that his world champion team was well aware of its responsibility in upholding the spirit of the game and said, "since I took over from Steve (Waugh) I have taken it on myself to personally ensure that each new member of the team is fully aware of his responsibilities to the game."
Ponting also rejected accusations that the Australians acted like cry babies by reporting Harbhajan to the match referee as they did not have the stomach for the sledging they so proudly dish out to the rival teams.
"In the spirit of playing hard but fair cricket, anyone who knows me and the way I play will be aware I do not make a point of running to umpires and making complaints," he said.
Ponting said he continues to stand by the agreement that he had with Kumble on going by the fielders' word on close catches.
"Anil and I decided that we would ask our fielders if they were 100 per cent satisfied they had taken a catch if it was not obvious," he recalled.
"This happened twice when we were fielding. In the first innings I took a low catch off Rahul Dravid but wasn't satisfied it carried so I told the umpire immediately.
"In the second innings Michael Clarke took a low catch off Sourav Ganguly. I went to him and asked if he was 100 per cent sure he had caught it. He said yes, so I relayed that to the umpires," he added defending his appeal for the dismissal.
Ponting reiterated that his side has been hard but fair in its approach to the game.
"It's my job as captain to make sure everyone stays within those boundaries and I am satisfied we have, not only in this Test and series but in recent years," he said.
"We want to keep it that way and we are looking forward to the rest of the series. In the end we're all cricketers who love the game and love to play it at the highest level against the best opponents. That is why we enjoy playing against India so much," he signed off.