Every new Australian cricketer is given a copy of the spirit of cricket pledge with his Baggy Green cap or his yellow pants, but yesterday morning Ricky Ponting saw fit to remind all his players of its contents after a series of clashes with umpires this summer.
Ponting has acknowledged that images of players berating umpires is, at the very least, not a good look and took the chance before training yesterday to address the team about its behaviour, which has slipped during tense matches against South Africa.
An apparent crackdown on the Australians' habit of engaging in long conversations with umpires about their decisions resulted in Brett Lee being reprimanded in Sydney.
Adam Gilchrist will also face the music in Adelaide next week after repeatedly questioning why a run-out, for which the Australians did not initially appeal, was not referred to the third umpire after replays suggested Boetha Dippenaar had not grounded his bat when the ball broke the stumps.
Glenn McGrath, reprimanded for using obscene language earlier this month, said the Australians would have to pull their heads in and Ponting, himself a protagonist in long discussions with umpires of late, yesterday went further.
'There haven't been any outbursts or anything like that, it just hasn't looked good. A couple of the things on telly, even though they've just been some chats with the umpires, they just haven't looked good and the perception of it is that it's a blight on the game," Ponting said.
"I just had a chat with the guys this morning to make sure we're thinking about how bad it would look, or how it would look on the television, before we do it.
"I've got no problem with the bowlers especially wanting to have a chat with the umpire and ask about certain decisions that have been made, but let's just make it one question and one answer and get on with it."
Former Australian coach Bob Simpson this week used his column in India's Sportstar magazine to attack the behaviour of the Australians.
"This not only includes sledging but excessive appealing, disrespecting the umpiring decisions and using their well-paid … columns to bait opposition teams and players," Simpson wrote.
The spirit of cricket pledge forms part of the induction for every player coming into the Australian squad, but Ponting remarked it was the experienced players who had wavered from it.
- CHLOE SALTAU