Former skipper Ricky Ponting has backed suspended Australia vice-captain Shane Watson, saying the all-rounder’s commitment for the team was beyond question.
Ponting, however, chose to steer clear of the ongoing crisis in the touring Australian team in the aftermath of the unprecedented dumping of four players in India.
Watson, along with three other players — James Pattinson, Mitchell Johnson and Usman Khawaja — were suspended for the ongoing third Test in India after failing to submit a presentation to coach Mickey Arthur on how to improve the team’s performance in the wake of the humiliating defeats in the first two matches in Chennai and Hyderabad.
“Shane worked as hard as anybody around his cricket, there’s no doubt about that. He’s obviously made a blue here – I don’t like to refer to it as homework because it wasn’t homework – not getting his tasks done that were given to him by the coach,” Ponting said.
” … I’ve never known him to be anything other than a very good team player and a great bloke to have around your team,” he was quoted as saying by The Australian.
“I loved every moment that I played with Watto. To tell the truth I think I understood him and his personality as well as anyone that I ever played with. I tried to get as close to him as I could,” said Ponting, who had brought in Watson into the Australian team.
Ponting did not agree with Cricket Australia’s high performance manager Pat Howard, who described Watson as “sometimes” a team player.
“Pat’s known Shane for 12 months and (Australian captain) Michael (Clarke) and Shane have known each other for the best part of 20 years,” he said.
Ponting backed Watson’s decision to be with his wife during the birth of their first child in Sydney.
“(It’s) obviously a personal decision and he probably doesn’t care how it looks,” he said.
“What the girls go through when we’re away is hard enough as it is but there’s certain things in your personal life you don’t want to miss.”