GABBA Test centurion Michael Hussey has thrown his support behind Ricky Ponting as the former skipper endures more scrutiny following his fifth-ball duck in Brisbane.
Ponting, who will turn 38 next month, is set to eclipse Steve Waugh's record for most Tests played by an Australian. He will compete in his 166th in Adelaide, putting him only two behind his former captain.
Being caught at second slip off Morne Morkel in an innings where Michael Clarke scored a double century, opener Ed Cowan notched his maiden Test ton and Hussey reached three figures, has put Ponting in the crosshairs. According to Hussey the comments were premature and unfair. "I think it's ridiculous," he said. "We all know Ricky is an absolute legend of the game and he's batting unbelievably well.
"He was averaging 150 in the Sheffield Shield in the lead-up to the Test but you get that one good ball and you're out. I just think Ricky has some big scores in him. He showed last summer [against India] he had that hunger and desire and ability to still do it and I don't think that's changed."
Hussey, who played the first of his 74 Tests at age 30 in 2005, was also targeted for attention before the Test when it was noted he had averaged 33.88 from 14 Tests against the Proteas, a figure well short of his career benchmark 50.5.
Adding to the pressure was the constant reference to his last series against the South Africans when he scraped together 60 runs at an average of 15. "I didn't read anything," he said. "I didn't watch the television or read a newspaper in the lead-up to the Test so I wasn't sure what was being said. I was immune to it all.
"My view has long been that whatever has happened in the past [Test series] is in the past and it's not going to affect what will happen in this series.''
He said such was the nature of cricket, where a batsman's fate can be decided by one ball, that in-form skipper Michael Clarke needed to make the most of his purple patch. "He's in a special time and it is important Michael enjoys it as much as he can because we all know the game, it doesn't last forever, and we've had our times along the way. He has to enjoy it," Hussey said.