Sydney: Australia's top cricket official Wednesday defended the national team against accusations of bad sportsmanship, saying Ricky Ponting's men were playing Test cricket, "not tiddlywinks."
Despite a barrage of criticism stemming from the bad-tempered second Test with India, Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said uncompromising play was what the public demanded.
"The Australian cricket team plays the game tough, tough and uncompromising," he told reporters.
"It's the way Australian cricket teams have played the game since 1877 under all sorts of different captains. That is the way Australians have expected their teams to play."
The country's players have been condemned by Australian sporting heroes, the media and the public for their behaviour during the second Test, which finished on Sunday.
Australia narrowly won the match, which was marred by poor umpiring decisions, in the final moments of the fifth day, and celebrated their victory with aggressive gestures towards the crowd.
At the post-match press conference, Indian skipper Anil Kumble pointedly remarked that "only one team was playing in the spirit of the game."
Sutherland said Australian players sometimes used harsh language towards their rivals in the heat of the match but never strayed outside the rules.
"Test cricket is what is being played here. It's not tiddlywinks," he said.
"It's a tough game and out there from time to time emotions will bubble over and perhaps some of the words that are said will not be acceptable in genteel company. But they are said and that is what happens."
India's Harbhajan Singh was slapped with a three-Test ban for alleged racist abuse, while Australian spinner Brad Hogg is also facing suspension for making an offensive remark.
However, Sutherland said he expected Ponting to hold peace talks with the Indian team.
"A number of days ago he made the offer to Anil Kumble for them to get together and talk through any differences of opinions and reconcile any differences that might be existing between the two captains and the two teams," Sutherland said. "I am very confident that that will happen."
Sutherland said Australia had improved their behaviour since 2003 when then captain Steve Waugh introduced a spirit of cricket pledge to curb on-field sledging.
"The Australian cricket team will be the very first to admit that they are not perfect," Sutherland said.
"They don't get it right all of the time. But they get it right a lot more now then they used to."