The "win at all cost" attitude of Ricky Ponting's men during the controversial Sydney Test against India has become one of the most discussed issues in the Australian sporting history, claims a top newspaper.
The 'Sydney Morning Herald' said it had been inundated with letters, phone calls and votes from thousands of readers on the controversies that engulfed the dramatic Test, which saw Harbhajan Singh banned for three Tests and Brad Hogg being charged for using offensive language, besides Steve Bucknor being sacked from umpiring in the third Test in Perth.
Peter Roebuck's provocative column on January 8 which had called for sacking Ricky Ponting for unsportsmanlike behaviour of the world champions was one of the most read sporting stories of all time, with a staggering 551,800 individual page impressions on the daily's website smh.Com.Au so far, the newspaper claimed.
The online poll accompanying the story has attracted more than 82,000 votes so far with 60 per cent agreeing with Roebuck.
The newspaper dismissed suggestions that the voting had been dominated by the Indians and said only 5.2 per cent of readers on that day were from India and two-thirds were local Australians. The number of Indians further declined next day to 2.8 per cent.
In all, the 'Sydney Morning Herald' website recorded more than three million unique visitors this week, and they were mainly hungry for cricket news. Their interest pushed the Sydney Test to 16 of the top 20 story slots of the week.
The Herald's letters editor reported the cricket controversy as the biggest single issue in recent memory.