Melbourne: Former players, including Australia's ex-captain Allan Border, have thrown their weight behind the embattled Ricky Ponting with one of them saying that the senior batsman is capable of emulating Rahul Dravid's return to form after a prolonged lean patch.
The 36-year-old Ponting has been facing calls for ouster due to a slump in form, but he answered his critics well by scoring a half century in the first Test against New Zealand last week.
New Zealand cricket legend Sir Richard Hadlee said Ponting lends stability to a young Australian batting line-up.
"...you've got three pretty inexperienced top order players," Hadlee told a magazine.
"He came in and made a huge difference in that match at the Gabba. And I thought his feet were moving nicely, he had the confidence to play some shots, he still averages 50 in Test cricket and you need that experience at the moment.
"Ricky, I'm sure, will know when it's time. And he deserves that opportunity to call it and not be pushed because I think it'd be sad if that happened," he said.
Former Australian player Greg Blewett felt a dip in form should not be taken for a permanent slump as Ponting could be Australia's answer to Dravid.
"...what I've seen in the last couple of innings just proves to me that he just went through a rough trough. Just because you're 36 and you go through a rough trot doesn't mean you're finished," Blewett said.
"Rahul Dravid has shown that. He scored one century in 20 Tests and all of a sudden he's back playing brilliant cricket again. I can't see any reason why Ricky can't do that," he said.
Support also came from Border, who said Ponting still adds value to the team.
"My selection philosophy is if I can make the side better, I would look at it very closely.
"Ricky Ponting, he's built up a lot of brownie points in my book, as a selector. I don't know whether there's a better player than him going around at the moment. But there will come a time, no doubt," he said.