Sydney: Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has lent his support to under-fire vice-captain Shane Watson, saying he backs Shane’s decision to return home at the time of the birth of his first child.

Watson was barred by team management from taking part in the third Test against India in Mohali along with three other cricketers for disciplinary reasons.

The all-rounder flew back home to be by the side of his wife Lee Furlong. The couple announced Thursday the birth of their son Will.

“Shane worked as hard as anybody around his cricket, there’s no doubt about that,” Ponting was quoted as saying by The Age.

“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.”

Ponting, who Thursday scored his 80th first class hundred in a Shield match against Victoria, praised Watson’s commitment and passion for the game and asked the media not to look too much into high-performance manager Pat Howard’ comments on Watson’s team commitment.

“I loved every moment that I played with Watto,” he 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.”

Ponting said, “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.”

Ponting said Howard’s comments were made under pressure.

“Pat’s known Shane for 12 months and (Australian captain) Michael (Clarke) and Shane have known each other for the best part of 20 years,” he said.

Ponting, who also returned home from Sri Lanka two years ago to be alongside his wife, said Watson’s decision to fly back home was the right one.

“(It’s) obviously a personal decision and he probably doesn’t care how it looks,” he said.

“What the girls go through when we’re away is hard enough as it is but there’s certain things in your personal life you don’t want to miss.”

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