Under-pressure Ponting escapes ban after umpiring row

Australia captain Ricky Ponting will be available for the fifth Ashes Test after the International Cricket Council opted to fine rather than ban him for his show of dissent on the second day at Melbourne.

Ponting was involved in a lengthy confrontation with umpire Aleem Dar after an appeal for caught behind against Kevin Pietersen was rejected, first by Dar and then by the TV umpire following a referral.

The technology suggested the decision was correct but Ponting jabbed his finger in Dar's direction in a heated discussion before moving on to continue the debate with square-leg umpire Tony Hill.

The ICC could have banned Ponting from the Sydney Test had they found him guilty of a Level Two breach of their code, but instead docked him 40 per cent of his match fee after deeming him guilty of a Level One charge of dissent.

The article of the code Ponting contravened refers to "arguing or entering into a prolonged discussion with the umpire about his decision", a charge the Australia captain admitted to.

As such, match referee Ranjan Madugalle was able to set the penalty without the need for a full hearing. Madugalle said: "Ricky's actions as captain of his country were unacceptable. A captain is expected to set the example and not get involved in a prolonged discussion with the on-field umpires and question their decision.

"While pleading guilty to the charge, Ricky understood that the discussion went on far too long. He apologised for his action and stated that he has nothing but respect for the umpires."

Ponting, who can expect further criticism for his actions in an increasingly disenchanted local media, said: "I was simply trying to seek clarification from the umpires regarding how the decision had been made after being referred to the third umpire.

"However, I would be unhappy if anyone thought I was being disrespectful towards the umpires as this wasn't my intention."

Former England captain Mike Gatting, who was memorably involved in a face-to-face row with umpire Shakoor Rana in Pakistan in 1987, refused to defend Ponting. "This is what the DRS system was supposed to negate. You question umpires by referring but you really shouldn't question umpires further.

"I probably shouldn't have done what I did (arguing with Rana) but as I've said that was probably more of a personal insult to me than anything else."