Australian board defends Ponting, Hilditch over series loss

January 3rd, 2009 - 3:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Jan 3 (IANS) Cricket Australia (CA) chairman Jack Clarke Saturday defended captain Ricky Ponting and chairman of selection panel Andrew Hilditch for the team’s Test series loss to South Africa.”Australian cricket has been extraordinarily successful over the past 15 years. In February 2008 the Australian men’s team held every ICC inter-country trophy available to it except the ICC World Twenty20,” Clarke told reporters on the first day of the final and third Test against South Africa at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).

The Proteas have already taken an unassailable 2-0 lead and a series whitewash will ensure the visitors the No.1 Test ranking and prove catastrophic for world champions Australia, who had not lost a series at home since 1992-93 till this one. The last series whitewash came 120 years ago.

Clarke said that both Ponting and Hilditch have been crucial to the team’s success and it was unfair to criticise them.

“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 men’s team’s success during this period and I believe that they have recently received unfair criticism. However this is not to say they, their team mates, their co-selectors or Cricket Australia should be immune from balanced criticism,” he added.

Clarke also said that the Australian team is going through a period of transition as it lost some great players in a very short span.

“When assessing the results of the Australian team, it should be noted that great players have retired over the past two years. Players of this calibre are not replaced overnight and in some cases ever,” he said.

The CA chairman assured Ponting and Hilditch the full backing of the board in rebuilding the team.

“At times like this when Australian cricket is challenged, Ricky and his team, and Andrew and his selectors, have the support of CA. They now have a chance to leave their most important legacy in managing the current transition from the great team of the last 15 years to rebuilding the dynasty. They deserve and have earned our respect,” he said.

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