Nagpur: He apologised on Tuesday, but Ricky Ponting insists he did not do deliberate damage to a television set in the dressing room during the match against Zimbabwe. That it was an accident.
In a column to be published on NDTVSports on Friday, the Australian skipper writes:
"I was, rather unexpectedly, the talking point of the match after rumour had it that I had taken a bat to the dressing room television. I was really surprised because nothing that dramatic happened. Fortunately, the truth is now slowly coming out, and it was just the protector bouncing up and hitting the television. I immediately informed the manager and we apologized as soon as the incident took place. I am a reasonably bad-tempered bloke when I get out, but I don't recall causing any damage in the dressing room even as a schoolboy cricketer. I am too old to start that kind of thing now!"
The incident happened immediately after Ponting was run out on Monday by a direct hit from the deep by Zimbabwe's Chris Mpofu in a Group A clash between the two teams.
Ponting had accepted a Level 1 charge and the proposed sanction from Match Referee Roshan Mahanama, but has insisted right through that he did not hit the TV set intentionally.
He was found to have breached clause 2.1.2 of the ICC code of conduct, which relates to abuse of cricket equipment or clothing, ground equipment or fixtures and fittings during an international match.
The cricketing fraternity has been very critical of Ponting. "The dressing room is supposed to be sacrosanct so I am a little bit disappointed. That sort of behaviour ... you don't want to hear about during a World Cup. You want to hear about Ricky Ponting making a 100, not messing up in the dressing room," said South Africa great Barry Richards.
"But one thing is obvious that there is a lot of pressure on him to try and win the World Cup," added Richards.
Former India cricketer Arun Lal was scathing in his criticism of Ponting.
"It's awful. If you are disappointed, there is no reason to turn violent. You are disappointed, you made a mistake, an error of judgement. Everybody is disappointed but how does that mean that you come and throw your kit.
"It's too childish, grow up, for God's sake. You are playing the World Cup, you are an idol for the next generation," said Lal.
"It's unfortunate, it's a bit of an accident. I have played with a lot of international cricketers, there is frustration but, as Barry said, the dressing room is sacrosanct," said former England batsman Graeme Hick.
This is not the first time an Australian cricketer has been involved in breaching the ICC's code of conduct in the dressing room.
Former opener Matthew Hayden was fined and severely reprimanded after an ugly incident in which he was charged with breaking the glass panel in the dressing room following an lbw dismissal in the fifth Ashes Test against England at the SCG in 2003.
Thanks to his previously clean record, Hayden was let off with a fine of 20 per cent of his match fee.
(You can read the entire Ricky Ponting column on Friday on sports.ndtv.com)