AUSTRALIA'S ordinary behavioural record could haunt it during the Ashes series, with captain Ricky Ponting now close to a ban of one Test or two limited-overs matches if he continues to query umpiring decisions.
Ponting was stripped of his entire match fee - a base figure of $4900 plus a tour premium of $1960 - for showing dissent during the topsy-turvy win over West Indies in the tri-series opener at Kinrara Oval overnight.
He reacted badly when umpire Asad Rauf called all rounder Shane Watson for a wide in the 33rd over of the night, at a time when Australia was already en route to an amazing victory.
Thanks to 2-65 from Mitchell Johnson, 4-43 from Shane Watson and a solitary Glenn McGrath wicket, the Windies were bowled out for 201 in pursuit of 9-279, losing 9-29 after appearing poised for victory at 1-172 with Shivnarine Chanderpaul at the crease o 92.
As his second offence in 12 months - Ponting was fined 25 per cent of his match fee for showing dissent during the second Test against Bangladesh in Chittagong in April - it means any further infractions between now and April next year would leave him open to receiving a suspension as a repeat offender.
With that in mind, Ponting will need to keep a close rein on his emotions during the Ashes, and in the Champions Trophy that precedes it, despite the stakes being far higher there than it was in Bangladesh or Malaysia.
It is understood the International Cricket Council will not look kindly upon a third offence, making an international ban more likely than another fine.
In addition to the financial sanction, match referee Chris Broad offered a stern rebuke to Ponting about a captain's need to set an example for his team.
"A captain should set the example for his players to follow and it is not acceptable for any player, let alone a captain, to question an umpire's decision," Broad said.
Ponting today offered a string of apologies in a contrite statement that suggested he realised the seriousness of his predicament.
"Having had the opportunity to sleep on the incident I know I made a serious error of judgment," Ponting said via a statement.
"I regret the approach I made to umpire Asad Rauf and realise I shouldn't have behaved in the way I did.
"As the captain of the Australian cricket team, I understand it's my responsibility to uphold the spirit of the game and I know that through my actions last night I let myself and my team down.
"I'll be personally apologising to umpire Rauf at the first opportunity and this morning I called a team meeting to apologise to the players."
Acting Australia vice-captain Michael Clarke, who made a quick 81 against West Indies, said the team held Ponting in the highest possible regard.
"I think it's another sign of the respect everyone has for Punter, for him to apologise, I think a lot of other guys would not have done that," he said today.
"By apologising and making this statement he's showing that he wants the team to be better, he wants us to be more disciplined than everyone else."
Cricket Australia acting chief executive Michael Brown said the board was unhappy with Ponting's actions but keen to move forward.
"Cricket Australia finds this incident unacceptable and inappropriate. I've spoken to Ricky and he's expressed his disappointment at his actions," he said.
"We're very strongly committed to the spirit of cricket and we believe in playing hard but fair."
uh oh..... one too many times punter...