In a change of stance, Cricket Australia Chief Executive James Sutherland has backed under-fire captain Ricky Ponting who was accused of putting self interest before that of his team during the final Test against India in Nagpur.
Sutherland had earlier said he would seek explanation from Ponting for using part-timers ahead of strike bowlers when India were in deep trouble on the fourth afternoon of the fourth Test. Ponting was accused of trying to avoid one-match suspension for slow over-rate.
But, speaking at the launch of Ponting's 'Captain's Diary 2008' in Sydney, CA Chief Executive Sutherland backed Ponting's decision to bowl spinners and part-timers in a bid to reel back a slow over rate when wickets were needed to salvage the series.
"His batting speaks for itself, but given the events of this week perhaps some need reminding that he is already a cricketing great," Sutherland said.
"He is a player that has always put the team first and he has never measured success by personal statistics," Sutherland was quoted as saying by "Sydney Morning Herald'.
"Any suggestion that he put himself ahead of the team last week in Nagpur is completely off beam and can only come from someone who does not know or understand him," he added.
Matthew Hayden has also launched a stirring defence of Ponting and predicted rival nations would pay for the criticism his captain has copped.
The veteran opener warned that Ponting would respond with his bat and leadership.
"I think we all know that Ricky Ponting is an absolute bloody champion and is one right across the globe during the entire reign of his captaincy," Hayden said. "I, as one of his senior players, completely endorse where he's at as an individual and as a captain. For me the next six months will show you again why he can rebuild another Australian side which has lost a lot of its grand champions over the last two years to become another very, very formidable opponent.
"We've got some incredible cricket coming up and Ricky won't be distracted by this," he added.
Former Australian captains Allan Border and Ian Chappell were two of Ponting's harshest critics for Ponting's actions after tea on day four in Nagpur.
With an over rate nine behind the requirement, and facing possible suspension, Ponting called upon Michael Hussey, Cameron White and Michael Clarke ahead of strike bowlers Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson when India was in trouble at 166 for six at tea on the fourth day of the fourth Test.
India went on to make 295 in their second innings to set up a near impossible victory target of 382 for Australia. Ponting's team then folded up their run chase for 209 giving India a 172-run win and 2-0 series victory.