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Oz to interact with South African crowds

Ponting wants his team to help defuse anticipated hostile SA crowds and engage them in friendly banter while fielding during this month's ODI series.

india Updated: Feb 20, 2006 12:11 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Australian skipper Ricky Ponting wants his team to help defuse anticipated hostile South African crowds and engage them in friendly banter while fielding during this month's one-day cricket series.

Ponting's comments follow South African wicketkeeper Mark Boucher's urging of South African crowds to give the Australians a hard time in response to what he and his team-mates received on their recent tour of Australia.

South Africa had a terrible tour of Australia losing the Test series 2-0 and failing to make the triangular series final amidst a poisoned atmosphere in which several South African players were taunted in Afrikaans as "kaffirs" or "kaffir brothers", racially derogatory terms for a black person.

Ponting said just before the team departure on Monday that he was puzzled by Boucher's view that he had lost respect for some Australian players during the recent series.

"To tell you the truth I'm not really sure where Mark's coming from there. It's disappointing to hear those sorts of things," Ponting told reporters at Sydney Airport.

"It was a tough hard series. No doubt about that. But I don't think there was anything spiteful on the ground," he said. "I think at the end of the day the Test series was played in the right spirit.

"I've always tried to have a bit of fun with the crowds around the world - try to get involved with them and have a bit of fun," he said.

"I understand it can be a bit hard at times when some of the stuff coming back at you is not that much fun. We have to be really sensible with the way we handle it," he said.

"The guys who are fielding on the boundary, it's important that they are being sensible with it as well. It can be something that could distract our players at different times.

"We'll talk about it in the lead-up to our first game over there and make sure that we're doing the best that we possibly can to deal with it."

Ponting said discarded Test fast bowlers Jason Gillespie and Michael Kasprowicz were the front-line candidates to take Glenn McGrath's place if, as expected, he missed next month's Test series in South Africa.

While chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns has been non-commital, Ponting made it clear he wanted one of his old warhorses back in the attack for the three-Test series starting on March 16.

"We're going to need some experienced guys back in the Test side if Glenn doesn't come back, so I'm sure their names will be at the top of the list," Ponting said.

McGrath, whose wife Jane has suffered a recurrence of breast cancer, has been told he needs to play a domestic match before he can be considered for the Test segment of the tour.

First Published: Feb 20, 2006 12:11 IST