Livid after consecutive losses in the ODI tri-series, Australia coach Mickey Arthur today said the side and its "jaded" stand-in skipper Ricky Ponting would have to face the consequences if they don't atone for the defeats with an improved performance against India here on Sunday.
"If I have to be totally honest, Ricky is a little bit jaded...and last night was a bit of unacceptable," remarked Arthur as he took stock of two successive defeats against India and Sri Lanka in the one-day series here.
Australia were unable to defend a total of 269 against India at Adelaide and last night lost by eight wickets to Sri Lanka, conceding a bonus point, in Sydney.
"The guys are hurting and this is an opportunity for them to atone for what happened last night...if they don't atone for it, they know what the consequences are," said Arthur.
Ponting was given the respect he deserves for his dazzling career but Arthur minced no words on how performance alone can guarantee a cricketer his place in the side.
"Ricky is a little bit jaded, like a couple of our Test players that have played all summer but that's the treadmill of international cricket and they have to find a way to make their performances count and have an impact on the team. I'd like to see Ponting in our team all the time but as I've said through the summer, every cricketer's currency is performance, that's what gets you into the Australian team." (Related read: Punter before Australia or Australia before Punter?)
"A character like Ponting is someone you want around the team all the time because he's so inspirational, he's still our fittest player and hardest trainer. He trains with the most intensity, he's a fantastic example to every guy who comes into the team," he said.
"Ricky is a class act, there is no way you can write off a champion like him. He faced those same issues around the first couple of Test matches and he came through the Test series, had a great series against India and I hope he turns it around tomorrow," he added.
Ponting has only 11 runs from four innings at an average of 2.75 in the present series. Due to injury to regular skipper Michael Clarke, he is also leading the Australian side as a stop-gap arrangement.
"It's totally Michael Clarke's team and Ricky is very aware of that. He was outstanding around the group, he oozes confidence and to have a guy like Ricky leading the ship, we are in a very fortunate position if something does happen to Michael Clarke," he said.
Ponting's appointment as stop-gap captain surprised many who believed the nod should have gone to opener David Warner -- the vice-captain of the side.
"We saw some huge potential in Dave, we want to grow him as a leader, he definitely has that potential. He's not ready yet and he knows that and we've communicated that to him. We brought Dave into the vice-captaincy position to learn to be part of our leadership group and to learn from Michael and when we strategise our position.
"In terms of taking guys on the field right now, he's not ready for that yet and he understands that. I reckon he could be a great leader in a few years to come. You talk about succession planning, we need to find a leader and he's one of those guys on our radar," he explained.
Australia isn't getting good output from their bowlers and don't seem quite sure with the role of Matthew Wade who has opened and then come down the order as a finisher.
"Our bowlers in Melbourne, I thought were outstanding. They won us a game in Perth defending 230 which wasn't bad. Adelaide was a bit flatter so it was a bit more difficult. I don't think we can be questioning our bowlers at all.
"We wanted Matty Wade to finish for us. We see him being a good finisher for us in years to come. He has the ability to open the batting as well and while we have one recognised opener in our squad, Matt is doing the job with a huge amount of distinction. If and when Shane Watson comes back, Matty could also play a role for us at the back end," he said.
Watson, injured for long, is back to Shield cricket and it appears the formidable all-rounder is beginning to find his feet on a cricket field.
"We'll sit down and discuss after tomorrow's game what to do with Shane. We wanted to see Shane play some cricket and we think it was really important that he got out there for New South Wales, not only for us but for him as well. He came through a Shield game really well and we'll take that point to the discussion able on Monday.
"We want to see a fit and firing Shane Watson and so the sooner we get him back, we'll be happy."
Arthur stressed there weren't going to be far too many changes in the side for the time-being. "We selected two squads for these two games. Guys know we need some performance now. We showed a trend of losing in Adelaide and Sydney last night and it's never good toÂ have back-to-back losses. We need someone to stand up for us tomorrow. We want to win every game and we've been very disappointed by what's gone down over the last few games. Collectively, we have taken responsibility and had a good hard chat about it."
Arthur also chose to speak about a few niggling issues dogging Australian cricket -- one about the workload of recent weeks as well as the lack of transparency between selectors and players.
"There's no doubt we've pushed the guys incredibly hard in terms of our intensity and our expectations around them and some guys are feeling the effects of that. But we know what the schedule is, we have to make sure we manage the boys correctly and that we've got the guys up and firing come tomorrow.
"The communication around the team has been really good. Players know exactly where they stand all the time. Perhaps the one thing that is lacking is the information that has gone out to media and public and that's one thing we can may be have a look. But the communication around the team is very good."
Arthur reiterated the door is not closed on Brad Haddin who hasn't been given a look-in in the one-day series.
"The door is not closed on Brad Haddin and he knows that. He has to go out and turn performances in. we can't guarantee positions to anybody, they need to be able to perform."