Hayden bats for Watson; Ponting, Hussey keep mum on team crisis

Last Updated: Wed, Mar 13, 2013 16:24 hrs

MELBOURNE: Sacked Australian vice-captain Shane Watson on Wednesday got the backing of former opening batsman Matthew Hayden while ex-captain Ricky Ponting refused comment on the unprecedented dumping of four key players from the team for the third Test against India.

Not only strongly backing Watson, Hayden also asked whether senior Australian cricket officials were committed to the "fundamental Australian ways" of the game.

Hayden, who played with Watson for Australia and Queensland from 2003 to 2008, described the 31-year-old all-rounder, who has now returned home to be by the side of his pregnant wife, as a team man.

"Shane is a team man and vice-captain of our nation. Along with his gentle disposition yet outstanding competitive streak it has enabled Shane's immense talents with both bat and ball to rise to the top to become one of this country's more decorated performers in all forms of game," Hayden said.

"I have played with Shane since he was a boy. He has battled with injury and risen in spite of major setbacks to overcome the obstacles presented in true Aussie spirit," he was quoted as saying.

"And most importantly never leave your mate on the battle field," he added.

Hayden took potshots at Cricket Australia high performance director Pat Howard, who had questioned Watson's commitment, and other CA officials.

"I hope every inch of Pat Howard and senior (CA) management has those core and fundamental Australian ways pumping through their veins?"

Meanwhile, with CA and the Australian Cricket Association advising a united front in a time of crisis, there were few going into bat for Watson.

Batting great Ponting and Mike Hussey directly declined to comment about the current situation, as did former batting coach Justin Langer.

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