Sydney: Former Pakistan cricket captain and fast bowler Wasim Akram has described Australian cricketers as hyprocrites and 'cry-babies' for whingeing about racism during the just concluded Sydney Test.
Identifying them as the game's worst sledgers, Akram said: "I have played a large part of my cricket against the Aussies. Sometimes they said stuff, sometimes we did, and then we moved on. We did not behave like cry-babies and drag it to the officials. They [Australia] do it constantly and much more than anyone else, so, how can they go out and complain about other teams, I don't know."
Indian great Kapil Dev said the Indian side was the most gentle in the world and the Harbhajan verdict was at odds with that.
"It is surprising and unfair," he said.
The Australian team's desire to seize the high moral sporting ground yet play in a manner that betrayed that spirit was firing the Indians' anger, said respected Indian commentator Harsha Bhogle.
"I have known Anil [Kumble] now for 18 years and I have never seen him as worked up as this. He felt he made an agreement in good faith [with Ricky Ponting] and he (Ponting) has not kept that agreement," Bhogle said, adding "Australia is now trying to say, 'We uphold the spirit of the game', but it is a very unusual spirit of the game. If you are upholding this spirit you cannot appeal for something when you know a batsman is not out. You cannot stand there when you have hit the cover off the ball."
The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland as saying that the spirit of cricket pledge had not been tarnished and diluted by recent performances.
"We're supportive of the Australian team and the way they play and this tough and uncompromising way is the way Australian teams have always played," he said.
"We always go out there and try and play fairly and squarely, always try and play tough competitive cricket and that is the competitive spirit," Australian fast bowler Brett Lee said.
The Australian players' union said the Australians were condemned for their success. "No doubt there is a tall-poppy syndrome here," Australian Cricketers Association chief executive Paul Marsh said. "They definitely play the game hard, but they rarely cross the line …"
Former Somerset player and well-known cricket writer Peter Roebuck has said that Ponting must be sacked as captain of the Australian cricket team.
"If Cricket Australia cares a fig for the tattered reputation of our national team in our national sport, it will not for a moment longer tolerate the sort of arrogant and abrasive conduct seen from the captain and his senior players over the past few days," Roebuck said.
"Beyond comparison, it was the ugliest performance put up by an Australian side for 20 years. The only surprising part of it is that the Indians have not packed their bags and gone home. There is no justice for them in this country, nor any manners," he added.
Roebuck said it was not only the reputation of these cricketers that has suffered, but Australia itself has been embarrassed.