London:Not taking Duncan Fletcher's criticism lying down, Australia captain Ricky Ponting on Wednesday hit back at the former England coach, calling him "hypocrite" and "irrelevant".
The Zimbabwe-born Fletcher, who guided England to 2005 Ashes win, took a pot shot at Ponting, who had accused England of indulging in time-wasting tactics in the Ashes opener at Cardiff and alleged the hosts did not care for the spirit of the game.
Fletcher said if any side in the world violated the spirit of the game most, it was Australia and Ponting had no moral right to lecture on a subject he himself had little idea about.
Deciding to retaliate, Ponting said, "(Fletcher) is sort of saying he didn't condone what they did the other day.
"It seemed a little bit hypocritical, some of the stuff he had to say," the Australian captain was quoted as saying by a cricket website.
Ponting elaborated further in his column for 'The Daily Telegraph' in which he dismissed Fletcher as "irrelevant".
"A lot of people have had their say on the issue since then, including former England coach Duncan Fletcher, who accused me of not playing in the spirit of the game.
"I can't really understand what he is talking about there, because I have never been in trouble with the umpires on that score, but I don't want to give Fletcher too much attention. He is a very irrelevant person in my life and probably in the cricket world at the moment," Ponting wrote.
"Everyone has got his or her opinion and if I listened to them all I would never get to sleep," he added.
Australian cricketers have been struggling with their image as on-field bullies but Ponting rued it was all media creation.
"The Australian cricket team seems to be a soft target when it comes to behaviour issues. Some people talk as if we are always sledging or losing our rag. But in recent years our record of players being reported or stepping over the line in international cricket has probably been as good as anyone's.
"In this case, the whole debate is part of the hype and hysteria that goes with an Ashes series. In most cases, I think these incidents are made out to be much bigger than they actually are," he said.