Ricky determined to make it work as MI skipper despite having three ’07-08 ‘foes’ in same squad
Ever since Mumbai Indians bought Ricky Ponting in the last Indian Premier League auction, there has been talk of how he would be received in the MI camp considering Ponting was Australia captain when the racism row involving Andrew Symonds and Harbhajan Singh broke out in the Sydney Test of 2007-08. MI’s mentor Anil Kumble was Ponting’s opposite number then.
Ponting made things clear at a press conference yesterday: “We are all friends for the next few months. That’s one thing I have made very clear to the guys already. Sachin and Harbhajan have not been around the team yet. We will meet up with those guys. We (Mumbai Indians) are one,”
“I’m here to do the best that I can to play well and captain the side well. We won’t leave any stone unturned as far as our preparations are concerned. We’ll make sure that everything we do is for one another,” he added.
During the 2007-08 Sydney Test, Harbhajan was accused of racially abusing Symonds. Ponting reported to the umpires that Bhajji had uttered the word “monkey” to Symonds.
In the hearing which was held at the end of the Test match, the India offie was found guilty and was suspended for three Tests. The Indian team management decided to call off the tour unless Bhajji was cleared of the charge. The Indians were persuaded to continue the tour and a fresh hearing was held. Justice John Hansen, hearing the appeal, fined Harbhajan 50 per cent of his match fees for abuse and insult. A few seasons ago, Mumbai Indians had Andrew Symonds sharing the same dressing room with Harbhajan.
Nonetheless, Ponting, who is back in the IPL after the 2008 edition, is excited to play alongside Tendulkar and Harbhajan. “To be captain of any franchise is exciting, but to think that I am captain of Mumbai Indians and I will be playing alongside Sachin Tendulkar and Harbhajan Singh, some of the guys I have had great battles over the years, is great,” he said.
Ponting is looking up to Kumble and head coach John Wright to crack the winning code. “We have John Wright, a successful ex-India coach and Anil Kumble, a successful Indian captain and a very good Indian player and leader. Obviously, (with) me coming into the set-up, we have put together a really strong leadership group. I take all the information from Anil and John. They are two seniors in the group. When it comes to selection, all three of us will work out the final XI.
“And if you think of some of the other guys we have like Sachin and Harbhajan... we have got a lot of experience and a lot of skill around the team. Mumbai Indians have a pretty proud tradition in the IPL of finishing up at the top and being in the semi-finals. We obviously haven’t won the tournament yet but hopefully this year is our year,” said the 38-year-old Tasmanian, who retired with 27,000 runs in Tests and ODIs.