Ponting defends his conduct

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The Independent Online

In extracts from his book on England's Ashes triumph this year, Fletcher said Ponting had abused him after he had been run out by a substitute in the fourth Test at Trent Bridge.

"I guess it's disappointing for that kind of stuff to be coming out now," Ponting said. "I don't recall having any of the umpires speak to me or any of the match officials speak to me other than that one incident which I was fined for.

"We did everything in our power to play the game in the right spirit. I think that was pretty evident right through the whole series and we've been applauded for the way we played through the series. I don't know where Duncan's coming up with a lot of this stuff."

The former England batsman Robert Key has been named as Kent captain for next season and believes the role will improve his prospects of getting back into the international game.

The 26-year-old Key succeeds David Fulton and said: "I am thrilled to have been asked to captain Kent and look forward to giving it my best shot. I remain committed to getting back into the England side and am sure that my added responsibilities at Kent will help me do this."

Lancashire have signed the Derbyshire wicketkeeper and former captain Luke Sutton. The 29-year-old, whose contract with Derbyshire had expired, will replace the recently retired veteran Warren Hegg.

Sutton, who joined Derbyshire from Somerset in 2000, had attracted interest from several other counties after announcing his intention to leave the club at the end of the season. Sutton, as a middle-order batsman averages 30.58.