Sydney, July 29: Australia greats Ricky Ponting and Ian Healy say axing wicketkeeper Brad Haddin for the third Ashes Test against England starting today is a mistake, while Matthew Hayden called it "outrageous".
Haddin, the vice-captain, has been overlooked in favour of the younger Peter Nevill, who impressed on his international debut in the second Test at Lord's after the 37-year-old pulled out to be with his sick daughter Mia.
Former captain Ponting, who played 168 Tests, said the decision did not sit well with him. "I am disappointed with the decision to leave Brad Haddin out of the Test team for Edgbaston," he said in a column for The Australian newspaper, adding that he was "the heart and soul of the team".
"All reports suggest he would have played at Lord's but he made the only and right decision to be with his daughter Mia who was very ill in hospital and missed that match.
"I know it would have been a hard call for him, he has been a single-minded and determined servant of Australian cricket, but he rightfully put his family first and has paid the price for it.
"I know he won't complain about being dropped. He is a tough character but it doesn't sit right with me."
The decision was made by on-tour selector Rod Marsh, himself one of Australia's greatest wicketkeepers, and coach Darren Lehmann, according to captain Michael Clarke. Haddin's daughter reportedly suffers from neuroblastoma - a rare form of cancer that attacks children aged five years or younger.
Ponting added that he feared Test cricket was now over for Haddin and "I am a little concerned that the team may miss him more than they expect. I hope I am wrong".
'Gone through hell'
Haddin, who retired from one-day international cricket after helping Australia win the World Cup this year, turns 38 in October with Nevill now seemingly having the chance to make the Test position his own.
Former opening batsman Hayden was even more outspoken, questioning the precedent set by selectors.
"After the hell he's gone through it is outrageous that Brad Haddin hasn't gotten his spot back for the third Ashes Test," he wrote in a column for news.com.au.
"Any mum and dad who has experienced the issues Brad and his wife Karina are going through will understand there's no way he was in a position to play cricket at Lord's. "What kind of precedent do the selectors want to set?," he added.
"It doesn't say much for the family-first policy if Brad puts his family first and all of a sudden he's out. Sometimes the heart has to play a part in selection."
Healy, ranked with Marsh as among Australia's greatest ever wicketkeepers, also expressed concern at Haddin's treatment. "I think that's a harsh call on Brad Haddin," he told Fox Sports of the 66-Test veteran.
"I'd like him to have a chance to redeem his Cardiff performance and then maybe at the end of the series - or when he doesn't redeem himself - then we can move to Nevill."
Haddin was not at his best, with either bat or gloves, during England's 169-run win in the first Test in Cardiff but Clarke said on Tuesday he would have played at Lord's had he not withdrawn for family reasons.