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Aussie team goes out of favour of home fans

cricket Updated: Jan 08, 2008 15:32 IST

IANS
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The Australian team has fallen out of favour even with their own fans back home after the fracas in the second Test in Sydney with India. A poll conducted by Fox Sports revealed that 57.66 per cent of Australians who took part in the poll said they would "no longer support this side".

Of the 7,018 people who voted, only 2,079 or 29.62 per cent felt "their behaviour was appropriate" and only 892 voters (12.71 per cent) said they "still loved the Baggy Green" - as the Australian team is called.

Even as former Australia coach John Buchanan believed the team's 'Spirit of Cricket' was still being followed, the general feeling was one of disappointment.

Buchanan, with former captain Steve Waugh, helped to compose the 2003 document titled "Spirit of Cricket" which spelt out Australia's desired code of conduct.

However, in the wake of Indian captain Anil Kumble's post-Sydney Test suggestion that Ricky Ponting's men had not played "in the spirit of the game", talkback radio and Internet feedback delivered a similar backlash to the Aussie cricketers by largely agreeing with the Indian skipper, reported the Daily Telegraph.

While the match was watched with the same intensity as an Ashes Test - Channel 9 secured a peak of 2.6 million viewers on Sunday - the hard-line tactics of Ponting's Australia appear to be unpopular. Talkback airwaves across the country also heard opposition to a win-at-all-costs mentality.

However, Buchanan has come to the defence of his former team, saying pursuit of victory in a fair manner was still a hallmark of the Australian cricket side.

"Everybody needs to recognise it's a tough contest out there," Buchanan said. "It's a highly competitive environment, and emotions are very much a part of that.

"Knowing Ricky Ponting and the players ... they took on board that the team had been criticised for being arrogant at times, bullies and so on," said Buchanan.

The "Spirit of Cricket" declares: "We play our cricket hard but fair and accept all umpiring decisions as a mark of respect for our opponents, the umpires, ourselves and the game."

Despite this aim, the Indians are understood to be upset with Australia's constant appealing in the second Test, and with Michael Clarke asking to be trusted on a catch when he'd earlier stood his ground after edging a ball to slip.

Recently-retired fast bowling great Glenn McGrath dismissed Kumble's suggestions. "I always got on well with Anil, he's a great guy," McGrath said.

"I find it quite surprising that he'd come out and say that. It's probably a little bit disappointing from an Australian point of view because I know the way the boys play, and I have total respect for every man who pulls on the baggy green cap and walks out there. I think the Australians play it hard and we play it fair, I feel."