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Page last updated at 09:21 GMT, Monday, 24 August 2009 10:21 UK

Cricket Australia backs Ponting

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Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland is standing by Ponting

Ricky Ponting will not be sacked as Australia captain after the 2-1 Ashes defeat, according to Cricket Australia selection chairman Andrew Hilditch.

Ponting, who has now lost two Ashes series in England, said he wants to remain as skipper of the side.

Hilditch said calls for Ponting's dismissal would be "completely unfair" and added: "He had a very good series. He's been under incredible pressure."

Hilditch also refused to blame Australia's selectors for the defeat.

They have come in for heavy criticism in the Australian press and from former Test players, particularly after the omission of spinner Nathan Hauritz for the final match at The Oval.

I don't think that in any way we can hold the selectors accountable for us losing the Ashes

Cricket Australia chief Andrew Hilditch

England off-spinner Graeme Swann took eight wickets in the match, while Australia skipper Ponting used part-time slow bowlers Marcus North, who took four wickets, and Michael Clarke.

Former Australia spinner Shane Warne said the decision to leave out Hauritz, who played in the first three Tests, was "staggering".

However, Hilditch stated: "I think it would be jumping to conclusions too quickly to blame the selectors.

"I think everyone will be looking for people to blame. I don't think that in any way we can hold the selectors accountable for us losing the Ashes."

And he questioned whether it was the non-selection of Hauritz or the Australian first-innings' collapse, when they were dismissed for 160, that cost them any chance of victory.

"At the end of the day, the players go out and do the business on the field," he said.

Ponting inconsolable after defeat

"We've lost the game by 200 runs, which is a pretty significant defeat, and having a spinner in the side wouldn't have helped us in the first innings, when we were bowled out for 160 and effectively lost the game."

Australia's defeat has resulted in them losing their ranking as the number one Test team, with South Africa replacing them in top spot.

Ponting took a young team to South Africa earlier in the year and won the Test series.

"It was only six or seven months ago that we had a fantastic series in South Africa where we beat the number one team in the world with a pretty similar line-up," said Hilditch.

"The selectors were hailed for their selection."

Australia have lost several established players in recent years, with the likes of Warne, Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer retiring.

"I don't think Cricket Australia is under any illusions as to where this team is at," conceded Hilditch.

606: DEBATE

"We're definitely in a rebuilding phase after losing some of the best players to ever play cricket for Australia and, right now, what you get with a young and relatively inexperienced team is some ebbs and flows in performance.

"We saw a little bit of that in the Ashes series. Our best cricket was very, very good, and our not so good cricket, in a couple of critical moments, were really the reasons why we let the Ashes slip."

Ponting insisted after the defeat on Sunday that he felt his young squad, which included inexperienced Test players such as Phil Hughes, Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle and Hauritz, was improving.

'England average but Australia arrogant'

"I'm comfortable with where we are at. We've been rebuilding for 12 to 18 months," he said.

"These are guys who have a few Tests under their belts and are still learning about the game.

"They all should be a lot better off for being part of this series. We're definitely heading in the right direction and I'm really proud of the guys."

And he added that he was determined to remain as skipper.

"With a loss, I'm more determined than ever to be a better player and leader than I am at the moment," commented the Tasmanian.

"I hope I have another chance to play another Ashes series back in Australia."



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see also
Ponting determined to bounce back
23 Aug 09 |  Australia
Victorious England regain Ashes
23 Aug 09 |  England
Media reaction to Ashes victory
24 Aug 09 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
23 Aug 09 |  England
Strauss savours famous Ashes win
23 Aug 09 |  England
Australia in England 2009
20 Sep 09 |  England


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