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Ponting says will stick by Symonds

cricket Updated: Feb 02, 2008 09:00 IST

IANS
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The Harbhajan Singh racism issue has taken a toll on Andrew Symonds but Australian skipper Ricky Ponting feels that the burly Queenslander will use the controversy to play better cricket.

"I think any sort of character assassination on Andrew Symonds as a result of this would be completely unfair. He is someone that doesn't want this stuff happening obviously, it's the second time, with what he had to go through with India as well... It's the last thing in the world he wants," Ponting was quoted as saying by The Age on Friday.

"What I do know is he's a terrific bloke, he's a very honest bloke and he's a great teammate of mine and I'll stick up for him at every opportunity. Anyone of you guys here that knows Andrew Symonds knows he is a pretty genuine, very honest sort of person," the Australian captain added.

Harbhajan's three-Test ban for his alleged racial comments on Symonds was revoked by New Zealand Judge John Hansen in a fresh hearing on Tuesday. Justice Hansen also pointed out that it was Symonds who provoked Harbhajan to make a verbal abuse.

Hansen also went as far as to say that Symonds' evidence in the case was not as credible as that of Indian batting sensation Sachin Tendulkar.

Ponting is confident Symonds would use the controversy to sharpen his focus and resolve to play even better cricket.

"Andrew, right the way through this, has had a fairly amazing knack actually of when things have gone against him or gone bad that he has been able to play some of his best cricket," the captain said.

"Pretty much in India when some of this stuff happened, he was the man that really stood up and won us a few games over there. And I have got no doubt he will be able to do exactly the same thing as this summer wears on."

"There is no doubt it has taken a toll on him. As we know, playing any sport at the highest level, you need to be 100 per cent switched on mentally to be able to play the best you can. Andrew's still been able to maintain pretty high standards right through this last month," said Ponting.