Amidst escalating race and sportsmanship row with India, Australian batting star Michael Hussey has defended skipper Ricky Ponting against calls for his scalp, saying he had the support of his entire team.
Hussey also said the Australian team had nothing to apologise for, maintaining the now-threatened series had been played in a hard but fair spirit despite India's threats to go home unless spinner Harbhajan Singh's three-match ban for racial sledging is overturned on appeal.
Hussey, whose second Test century in Sydney has been almost forgotten amid the controversy, said he was "shocked" by Indian captain Anil Kumble's assertion that only one team was playing in the spirit of cricket.
"That was a surprising comment and a little disappointing," Hussey told reporters yesterday at the Sydney Cricket Ground, where he was filming a cricket-based Bollywood movie.
"The spirit has been fantastic for the first two Tests, and not just that, for the 60 years we have been playing Test cricket against India. The two teams actually get on very well; it has been absolutely brilliant.
"That's why I've been shocked (by Kumble's remarks). There have been a lot of contentious decisions, but you've got to accept the umpire's decision. It takes discipline to do that without showing any dissent," he said.
On calls in the media for Ponting's resignation, Hussey said "All I can say is Ricky has got the full support of everyone in our team and probably every cricketer around Australia."
"I think he is the best captain I have played under. We go out to play the game as hard as we can but also as fairly as we can, and Ricky is very big on that," he was quoted as saying in the Daily Telegraph.
Hussey said Ponting had done nothing wrong by reporting Harbhajan for allegedly calling Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds a "monkey" and was merely following ICC protocols.
Admitting that it was "disappointing" the way the controversy had played out, he hoped Ponting and Kumble could get together for peace talks and "work this all out".
Denying accusations that the Australians were arrogant, he said "I know all the guys and that's so far from the truth it's not funny. We have a great pride in playing for the baggy green cap, and for each other.
"We know how hard it is to get an opportunity to play for Australia. We are not going to play at 80 or 85 per cent."
Hussey said the Sydney Test was hard and uncompromising but the only "really disappointing" incident had been dealt with by match referee Mike Procter of South Africa.
"In my heart of hearts I honestly believe the game was played in good spirit. I know I wasn't sledged once. There was a bit of banter when we were fielding, but nothing nasty or derogatory at all that I was aware of. So I don't think we should tone down our style of play at all," he added.