Past Aussie masters rally behind embattled Clarke

Former Australia captains Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh and Allan Border threw their support behind embattled skipper Michael Clarke Thursday, saying it was ridiculous to be questioning his credentials.

Clarke arrived in Sydney on Wednesday after the team’s thumping 2-0 Test loss to Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates to a barrage of questions over whether he remained the best man to head the side. Ponting said Clarke, despite battling a form slump, remained his pick as captain.

“I think that was quite ridiculous, to tell you the truth,” he said of the grilling Clarke received, as the three former captains gathered to mark 100 days before the start of the 2015 World Cup, to be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.

“The team’s done some amazing things in the last couple of years and got themselves back up to number one in two forms of the game at least, had some amazing series whitewashes and things.

“We know that out of the last couple of weeks the guys didn’t handle the conditions that well over there (in the UAE) but... it’s two Test matches, a bit of a blip on what’s otherwise been a pretty good copybook for the last couple of years.

“So hopefully they can learn from their mistakes over the last couple of weeks, move on and be a better team in Asia for coming tournaments.”

Clarke has averaged just 27.46 in his last 16 innings and managed just 2, 3, 47 and 5 in his four innings during Australia’s series loss to Pakistan.

On Wednesday he defended his record and said he was not worried about losing the captaincy. Waugh said he had no doubts that Clarke would emerge from his slump and said calling his leadership into question was unfair.

“I can’t understand that. I mean, every player goes through a time where they’re not scoring runs,” he told reporters. “But he’s had an incredible run — 5-0 against England last year, beating South Africa away (this year) was an amazing result for Australia.

“So you’ve got to put it into context. It was two Test matches, we didn’t play well. Let’s judge the side after maybe another six, 12 months and see how they’re going,” he said.

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