Indian cricket great Sunil Gavaskar has apologised for referring to David Hookes' death when criticising the Australian team's on-field behaviour.
The former India captain hit a raw nerve here by linking the death of former Test cricketer Hookes, who died after he was punched outside a Melbourne hotel, with the treatment the Australians could expect if they behaved as boorishly in a bar as he claimed they did on the field.
Gavaskar said his Hookes comments were "uncalled for and inappropriate" but he did not back away from his claim that the Australian team would be more admired if they curbed their behaviour in matches. "I do regret it ... on the breakfast show I do with ESPN, I read out a statement regretting what I had said," Gavaskar told a Melbourne radio station on Tuesday.
"On live television and radio, sometimes you respond on the spur of the moment with a remark that can cause hurt and pain to others. I realise and I accept that what I said was uncalled for and inappropriate.
"Having said that, I hope they (Hookes's family and friends) have the bigness of heart to forgive me for what I said about David Hookes."
Gavaskar said he has not spoken to Australian captain Ricky Ponting since making his comments about Hookes. "I am not at loggerheads with Ricky Ponting, I admire him for his batting and for the way he has come back after the (2005) Ashes loss (to England)," he said.
"Cricketers hardly ever hold too much against each other. I'm pretty certain the next time Ricky and I meet up, we'll be fine, we'll be able to shake hands, share a joke and carry on with our lives."
Gavaskar clarified his earlier comments about the Australian team — that they were "not popular winners" because of sometimes "awful" on-field behaviour.
"The Australian team can also be universally admired if they can only curb their behaviour on some occasions."