Cricket: Ponting defends selection

As embattled as captain Ricky Ponting felt, it's likely the national selectors are also feeling pressure after Australia's conclusive 2-0 series loss to India.

But Ponting launched a staunch defence of the team composition that on tour was decided partly by him and partly by selectors on duty Andrew Hilditch (first and second tests) and Merv Hughes (third and fourth).

It's arguable that the missteps began before the tour started, when senior bowler Brett Lee was declared fit and ready despite a badly interrupted preparation.

Once the Australians arrived there were numerous other errors, most notably the inclusion of bits and pieces player Cameron White for all four tests with a brief - legspinner and No 8 batsman - that he clearly struggled with.

Though fourth test revelation Jason Krejza could have forgiven the selectors for leaving him out of the first two tests following a thumping in the lead up tour match, the off spinner should have played in the third in Delhi on a pitch suited to finger spin.

When he did not, it was Indian part-timer Virender Sehwag who revealed the depth of that mistake by claiming five wickets while White toiled virtually unrewarded.

Ponting, though, declared himself happy with every team picked.

"I and the selectors have been comfortable with the 11 players we've picked every test match and all I can say for Jason is it's probably felt for him like a long wait to get the opportunity but he's grabbed it with both hands," Ponting said.

"I think Jason would probably be the first person to admit right now he probably feels he's a better bowler now than he was in Hyderabad or maybe going into the first test.

"I know he's studied Harbhajan, he's looked at his fields, he's spoken to me, and Bishen Bedi helped him out."

In Nagpur, the panel chose to omit Stuart Clark, Australia's most consistent pace bowler of the past two years and most economical in India, in favour of White.

Clark's absence left the tourists well short of quick bowling options when Lee fell ill during the test, and it is also arguable that Clark could have saved Ponting from the last day over rate meltdown.

In Delhi, Clark had bowled highly accurate cutters at medium pace off a short run, something Ponting was crying out for in Nagpur to keep the over rate up.

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