Suspended Australia vice-captain Shane Watson received the backing of former skipper Rickie Ponting on Thursday as crisis surrounding the team rumbled on. Watson, along with three other players, was suspended for the third test in India after failing to respond to a request from Australia's management for feedback on how the team could be improved.
Cricket Australia high performance manager Pat Howard described Watson as "sometimes" a team player but Ponting, one of Australia's most successful captains, begged to differ. "Shane worked as hard as anybody around his cricket, there's no doubt about that," Ponting was quoted in Australian media.
"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. "... I've never known him to be anything other than a very good team player and a great bloke to have around your team. "I loved every moment that I played with Watto." Mitchell Johnson, James Pattinson and Usman Khawaja were also dropped for the same reason. Watson, who was initially thought to be considering his test career, has returned to Australia to be with his pregnant wife.
Describing his suspension as "extremely harsh" Watson hit back at Howards's comment this week. "All I can really say is go around and ask every person I've ever played cricket with and that will give you the best indication of whether I'm a team man or not," he said. "Pat Howard doesn't particularly know me very well. He's come from a rugby background and hasn't been in and around cricket very long."
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)