Former captain Ricky Ponting has rejected suggestions that Australia's players under his leadership were "overpaid and lazy", after a review into their decline from No 1 in the world in 2008 to their present ranking of fifth.
The damning indictment emerges in Cricket Australia's Argus review, which effectively accuses Ponting of presiding over a team suffering from "the lack of a strong culture" within the dressing room.
In his first interview since the review's release, Ponting said he wanted to learn more about the evidence that led to the review's conclusions. "The cold, hard facts are that we went from No 1 to No 5 and the Test series we've lost have been to the teams that were the No 1-ranked teams in the world over the last three years. It's been more the way we've lost, especially the last Ashes series; the way we lost some of those games was what was most disappointing. Most of the other series we were ultra-competitive other than a session here and there, but as you saw during the Ashes there was a big gap between us and the way England played their cricket. As we've seen in the last couple of weeks, there's a big gap between the way England play their cricket compared to the way India are playing.
"The perception (of the current players) is that they probably don't work hard and they're probably overpaid and all that sort of stuff. But this group is probably the fittest bunch of athletes, and probably work harder, than any other of the teams I've been a part of."
In yesterday's action on the field, relegation-threatened Yorkshire and Championship-chasing Warwickshire finished with honours even on day one of their vital clash at Headingley, where the home side missed out on a third batting point but nonetheless gave a weakened Warwickshire a difficult task to establish a first-innings lead after they were all out for 297.