A diplomatic Ricky Ponting has disagreed with Cricket Australia's decision to axe Shane Watson but felt the "drastic" step by the team management ahead of the Mohali Test probably merited the circumstances.
Ponting spoke after scoring his third century for Tasmania in Hobart on Friday and indicated CA's impression on Watson was faulty.
"Shane worked as hard as anybody around his cricket, there's no doubt about that," Ponting told reporters at Bellerive Oval. "He's obviously made a blue here - I don't like to refer to it as homework because it wasn't homework - not getting his tasks done that were given to him by the coach.
"I've never known him to be anything other than a very good team player and a great bloke to have around your team."
Challenging CA team performance manager Pat Howard's views on Watson, Ponting said: "I think he'd regret saying that as well, but people are going to make judgments."
"I think Shane said this on the way home. Pat's known Shane for 12 months and Michael (Clarke) and Shane have known each other for the best part of 20 years."
Ponting has seen the rise of Watson from a talented youngster to a top class performer in spite of several injuries.
"I loved every moment that I played with Watto," Ponting said. "To tell the truth I think I understood him and his personality as well as anyone that I ever played with. I tried to get as close to him as I could. I tried to know him as well as I could both on and off the field and I actually felt by doing that I got as much out of him as I could as a player."
Watson's chances of returning to India in time for the fourth Test in Delhi rose after his wife Lee gave birth to a baby boy, Will, on Thursday. Watson flew home from Chandigarh on Monday saying the team management's decision "was harsh."
Meanwhile, skipper Clarke has extended an olive branch saying he would be happy to see Watson back as the team's vice-captain when the final Test starts next Friday.