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26 Feb 2008 09:26
Australian fast bowler Brett Lee defended his team’s on-field behaviour on Tuesday and played down talk of another rift with India.
The lingering ill-feeling between the sides surfaced again when Indian paceman Ishant Sharma was fined 15% of his match fee for a verbal altercation with Australian batsman Andrew Symonds during Sunday’s tri-series clash in Sydney.
The tourists reportedly responded by lodging a written complaint with match referee Jeff Crowe over bullying tactics on the field by Symonds, Ricky Ponting and Matthew Hayden, claiming the incident involving Sharma was provoked by Symonds and that Hayden and Ponting taunted Harbhajan Singh during the match.
The Indians have not ruled out boycotting the tri-series finals after the latest incidents.
They also threatened to return home after the contentious second Test in January, which led to Harbhajan being suspended for three matches for allegedly racially abusing Symonds, a decision overturned at a subsequent International Cricket Council appeal hearing.
However, Lee, who is friends with several of Indian players, said that the incidents during the tour had been blown out of proportion.
Lee admitted the Australians used gamesmanship on the field, but said they never went too far.
“The whole mental disintegration is like a way to try and overcome your opponent, that’s happened in Test match cricket for a long, long time and now it’s happening in one-day cricket,” Lee said.
“It’s a matter of going out there and trying to play the hardest possible cricket you know you can, providing that we don’t step over that line and we definitely haven’t done that.
“There’s a few little things that have happened, sure, and everyone knows that, but the bonds that we’ve got between the two teams is brilliant.
“I don’t have a problem with the way the Australians and Indians get on [on the field], it’s fantastic.
“We’re out there playing hard cricket and as long as we’re playing by the rulebook then there’s no problems with that.”
Lee said he wasn’t concerned by the latest Indian complaints and was more concerned with Friday’s tri-series match with Sri Lanka.
“There has been a fair bit spoken, especially after the game and the complaints and stuff, but it’s a matter now of focusing on the game of cricket,” he said.—Sapa-AFP
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