Warne backs embattled Ponting
Embattled Australian captain Ricky Ponting is the right man to regain the Ashes from England, according to former leg-spinner Shane Warne.
Ponting returned to Australia to fierce criticism from former players and media pundits after their 2-0 series loss to India, which saw them slump to fifth in the Test rankings, and suggestions he should relinquish the Test captaincy.
Warne himself had questioned Ponting's tactics on Twitter during Australia's seven-wicket loss in the second Test in Bangalore, particularly the field set for spinner Nathan Hauritz.
"How the hell can Hauritz bowl to this field?" Warne posted on Twitter last week.
"Feeling for Hauritz, terrible!! What are these tactics? Sorry Ricky, but what are you doing?"
Image: Shane Warne
'Tweet on Ponting an observation, not an attack'
Ponting has since said that Hauritz had set the field. On Tuesday Warne attempted to defuse his initial comments, saying they were not a criticism but an observation as he watched the match unfold.
"My tweet about Ricky's fields for Nathan Hauritz for (two) overs has been portrayed as a rift between myself and the Australian captain and journos have tried to start a slanging match between us; what rubbish," Warne wrote on his personal website (www.shanewarne.com) on Tuesday.
"Commentators on the match, cricket journalists and even the Indian captain, MS Dhoni, have agreed with my tweet. It was an observation, not an attack!
"I have and always will support the Australian cricket team but, as a cricket commentator, I have to be honest, forthright and express my opinion. If people don't like it so be it."
Image: Ricky Ponting and Nathan Hauritz
'Ricky is the right man to lead Australia for the Ashes'
Warne added Ponting, who has faced calls to step down from the captaincy to concentrate on his batting, had his full support as he led their attempt to recapture the Ashes from England.
"Ricky, to me, is the right man to lead Australia for the Ashes," Warne wrote of the series that begins on November 25 at the Gabba in Brisbane.
"It's a great opportunity for him to show his leadership and captaincy skills.
"He also looks in super touch with the bat. I am sure he's going to fill his boots this summer.
"This Ashes series is going to be the biggest of his and the Australian team's career.
"I think Ricky is at his best when he shows his Tassie devil side which is, aggressive with a dash of flair."
Image: Ricky Ponting