Perth: Mike Hussey rejected suggestions that Australia's troubled Ashes campaign is affecting Ricky Ponting's batting after the captain failed again in the third test against England Thursday.
Ponting, dismissed for a golden duck and nine in the second test in Adelaide, managed only 12 runs in Australia's first innings in Perth before he edged James Anderson to third slip, where Paul Collingwood held a brilliant one-handed catch.
Ponting had put himself under pressure to score runs in Perth, but his injudicious flash summed up the hosts' woes as they were skittled for 268 on day one at the WACA ground.
England turn screw on Australia in the Ashes
Australia trail 1-0 in the five-test series, and if they lose in Perth it will be the first time in 24 years they have failed to win the Ashes on home soil.
"Whether he's going well or the team's going well or not well, he (Ponting) is just such a consistent character," Hussey told reporters.
"And what I do know is if people doubt or critics count against such a champion they generally come back and show the critics to be wrong.
"I've no doubt it's going to be the same this occasion. Ricky's such a champion batsman, champion bloke and a champion captain -- I'm sure he'll be fine."
Hussey scored 61 for his third half-century in the series following his 195 in the first test in Brisbane and was the top order's lone resistance as they tumbled out on a green-top wicket in the morning session.
Mitchell Johnson, dropped for the Adelaide test, top-scored with 62 as the tail wagged, before England negotiated 12 overs late in the day to close on 29-0.
Hussey said Johnson's confidence with the ball would now be key as Australia try to defend their meagre score.
"Just watching a couple of replays on the board, it looked like he was getting a little bit of swing from the new ball, and I know his confidence is up when he can get that ball to swing away from the left-handers," Hussey said.
"That's a good sign for us tomorrow. Hopefully he can keep those emotions in check and really concentrate on getting that ball in the right area and he'll be a real handful tomorrow."