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Hayden defends his captain, calls Ponting proven champion

Sydney, Nov 12 (UNI) While Ricky Ponting is being widely criticised for his team's recent loss to India, opener Matthew Hayden has thrown his weight behind his captain and said he is a proven winner who should not be judged on one Test.

Ponting was under some severe criticism following his tactics after tea on the fourth day in Nagpur against India where he elected to use part-time bowlers while trying to make up for a slow over rate.

However, Hayden said his captain is a 'bloody champion' who has proved his mettle all over the world during his reign as the Australian skipper.

''I think we all know that Ricky Ponting is an absolute bloody champion, and he has won right across the globe for the entire reign of his captaincy,'' Hayden said after his arrival from India yesterday.

''I, as one of his senior players, completely endorse where he's at as an individual and as a captain,'' he said.

The veteran opener also advocated for Symonds and said the team is willing to accept him with open arms.

''I'm going to be incredibly biased and say that I want Symo back in the side ASAP, as we've said all along a side with Andrew Symonds in it is a better side.

''If Roy feels he's in a position to play for Australia which I'm certain he is, then good luck, it would be open arms at this dressing room door,'' Hayden, who did get a couple of good scores against India but failed to save his team from a 0-2 loss, said.

Symonds will play for Australia in a Twenty20 game against an all-stars team in Brisbane on Friday.

An out-of-touch Symonds appears unlikely to make it to the the Test side but his match-winning talents and attacking flair are viewed as priceless assets especially after the 2-0 series defeat in India.

''He's a great team man and one I love, and have missed, playing cricket with for the last eight weeks,'' Hayden added.

Symonds hasn't been in Australian colours since being sent home from the one-day series against Bangladesh after he missed a compulsory team metting and instead went for fishing.

Hayden also backed Jason Krejza to continue his wicket-taking form in Australia, and believed the off-spinner should be used as a spinning strike weapon like Stuart MacGill, who was never as tight and containing as Shane Warne.

Krejza, who could play only the last Test at Nagpur, had 11 wickets to his name in his maden Test.

Even though it did turn for (Krejza in Nagpur), he was going for a lot of runs and (Virender) Sehwag is a magnificent player of spin and put him under a lot of pressure, and he got eight and four (wickets in each innings).

''Those two results aren't a fluke in Test cricket, they're (due to) good skills and he does have a number of those good skills.

''Australia is different. Some of our conditions are conducive to spin. The way we handled a Stuart MacGill might be a significant thing that selectors are looking for.

''It is an answer to over-rate problems as well but it's also a very strong attacking option,'' the burly opener said.


Story first published: Wednesday, November 12, 2008, 14:06 [IST]
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