Sydney: Former Australian captain Allan Border said on Monday that he did not face as much pressure while leading a struggling side as current skipper Ricky Ponting does now.
Border was at the helm of the national team for 93 Tests between 1984 and 1994, a period when Australian cricket was in the doldrums. Ponting, meanwhile, has been at the forefront of one of the most successful cricketing eras the country has experienced.
But Border, who was known as 'Captain Grumpy', said he would sooner face the menacing West Indies bowling attacks of the 1980s than deal with the strains Ponting has been confronting this season in the acrimonious Test and one-day series against India.
"I'd take on Joel Garner any day of the week," said Border, who reluctantly accepted the Australian captaincy when Kim Hughes resigned in tears in December 1984 after a series drubbing from the West Indies.
"It's what we were trained to do and probably felt more comfortable doing.
"But all the argy-bargy that goes on in cricket now, just the constant flow of that type of pressure, I'd take the West Indies any day over that," Border told reporters at a sponsorship function here Monday.
"When you're copping a bit of flak off-field and have issues to deal with, that can wear you down more than anything your opponents do to you on the field.
"I suppose all international captains have greater responsibilities than I did when I left off the job. There are more and more pressures on the guys, particularly those at the top.
"It's harder now. The media glare has always been there, but I don't think the expectation and the accessibility is the same.
"Now there's almost that expectation that he's available 24/7. Does that come with the bigger pay packet? I suppose it does."
But he praised the way Australia's skipper has dealt with the issues, saying: "Ricky Ponting's had a tough summer, but he's a very strong character.
"Just to keep everything on track, plus play good cricket himself, I take my hat off to him.
"He's done remarkably well. He's going through a bit of a dip at the moment, but it's just the way the game is. It's the nature of the beast."
Ponting has described this Australian summer season as by far the most frustrating of his career.
"There seems to be something coming up every second day," he wrote in a newspaper column last week.
"Almost regardless of the way we play, there will be an issue. Being captain, even if it doesn't involve me, I am the one who has to answer questions about it."
Border said it was opportune that India were giving Australia such a fight in the Test and one-day series. We've got very good opposition now from India, which is good -- it's what the game needs."