Kim Hughes backs ' excessively blamed' Clarke over Ponting's 'team culture' allegations

Sydney, Nov 1 (ANI): Former Australian Test captain Kim Hughes has dismissed allegations by former skipper Ricky Ponting that captain Michael Clarke failed to buy into the Australian team culture when he was vice-captain, and said that Clarke is being 'excessively blamed' for Australia's decline as a cricketing power.

Clarke was reportedly left furious when Ponting's new book claimed he drifted apart from the team during his relationship with his former girlfriend Lara Bingle and could have invested more at team meetings.

According to News.com.au, Hughes said that he is aware of the importance of supportive senior players better than most given that he was charged with hauling Australia out of the dark days of the early 1980s, adding that he does not think that Clarke deliberately sit on his hands when he was Ponting's right-hand man.

The former Test batsman, who captained the side in 28 Tests between 1978-84, further said that it is necessary to understand the group dynamics of an Australian team, adding that just because Clarke was deputy did not mean that he had to provide the most input.

Hailing Clarke for maturing into a 'fantastic leader of men', Hughes also said that Clarke is an intuitive and a natural captain and pulls the right strings on the field, adding that from a captain's point of view, the wicketkeeper and his senior bowler are just as important as the vice-captain, which he dismissed as being 'overrated'.

Hughes also said that Clarke seemed to be paying a heavy price for Australia's slide from the No.1 Test ranking, adding that he is doing everything he can and needs better performances from players around him. (ANI)

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