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Warne is a victim of media scrutiny, says Ponting

Published: Thursday, April 28, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
 
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Melbourne:Australian captain Ricky Ponting said he backed national team-mate Shane Warne over a sledging furore in English County cricket.

Sussex captain Chris Adams said Warne, who skippers Hampshire, verbally humiliated English fringe batsman Matt Prior at Hove last weekend.

But the champion Test cricket's leading wicket-taker claims he had a pop at Prior because he "chested" Warne's Australian and Hampshire team-mate Simon Katich when the pair collided mid-pitch.

"I wanted to try to get under Prior's skin because of the way he chested Katich on the field," Warne told London's The Times newspaper on Thursday.

"I thought cricket was a non-contact sport. I was sticking up for my mate and letting Prior know what I thought about his behaviour. I think Adams needs to put his own house in order before he goes complaining to the newspapers."

Ponting said he intended to call Warne to find out exactly what happened but pointed out that the record Test wicket-taker was subject to closer media scrutiny than other players.

"Unfortunately for Shane he's always going to be in the media spotlight, there's nowhere for him to hide for that, and quite often a lot of the things that he's involved in are highlighted and bigger issues are made of them," Ponting said.

Warne has a history of sledging -- most famously in 1993 when he gave South African batsman Andrew Hudson an ugly send-off in a Test match.

But Ponting said his side had reduced sledging significantly since October 2003, when the players abolished personal insults directed at opponents under Cricket Australia's (CA) Spirit of Cricket code.

"I think certainly in the public's eyes, but more importantly I think everyone who you speak to involved in the game have been really impressed with what we've been able to do to our on-field attitudes," Ponting said at a CA media call in Melbourne on Thursday.

CA chief executive James Sutherland said he was concerned about Adams' allegations as a captain-against-captain complaint, but indicated he would take no action against Warne, who was "well-versed" in the players' code.

"I think if you have a look at Shane's record in international cricket over the last year and you ask Ricky -- he's been out on the field with him -- I would have thought that he's subscribed very well to the players' Spirit of Australian Cricket," he said.

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