Cricket Australia chairman Jack Clarke on Saturday threw his weight behind embattled skipper Ricky Ponting and selection panel chief Andrew Hilditch, saying the duo was being unfairly criticised in the wake of team's Test series loss to South Africa.
Speaking on the opening day of the third and final Test of the series, which Australia has already lost after being defeated in Perth and Melbourne, Clarke said Ponting and Hilditch deserve "respect and support" for their role in the team's success for more than a decade.
"Ricky Ponting has been an Australian player since 1995, ODI captain since March 2002 and Test captain since March 2004, while Andrew Hilditch has been a selector since 1996 and the chairman of selectors since 2006.
"Both men have been crucial to the Australian team's success during this period and I believe that they have recently received unfair criticism," Clarke said.
Ponting's tactics have been lambasted as negative, while Hilditch is in the line of fire for persisting with unfit players like Andrew Symonds and Brett Lee in the first two matches.
Clarke said the team was coping with retirements of greats
like Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath and the vaccum created by their exit will take a lot of time to fill. More