Ricky Ponting has backed the call for selectors to have patience in Australia's emerging crop of batsmen rather than toss them out after the Ashes series defeat in England.
The former Test captain has been watching the campaign of Michael Clarke's side from afar since linking up with the Antigua Hawksbills in the inaugural Caribbean Premier League and believes younger players such as Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith and Phil Hughes must be given time to adapt to the Test stage.
Only Clarke and Chris Rogers are averaging more than 30 for the series and questions about the status of the top six further intensified after the batting collapse that surrendered the fourth Test to England in Durham last Monday.
Australian coach Darren Lehmann said in the wake of that defeat that there would be batsmen playing for their careers in the fifth Test at the Oval starting on Wednesday.
Ponting, however, urged selectors not to cast their emerging talent aside just yet, using England as an example.
''The thing that I keep referring to with that is that if you take England back six or seven years when they had [Ian] Bell just starting out, [Alastair] Cook just starting out - those guys weren't overnight successes,'' he said.
''It's taken them that amount of time in the game to really hit their straps as international players. That's something that we have to do with our guys. We've got to identify the best players that we've got, give them an opportunity and stick with them, even if we are losing games.
''If they're the best players we've got then they've got to learn and grow some confidence in that environment and not be in and out of the team all the time. That's the big challenge for us.
''You can't find some excuses for a few of the guys - a few of the guys are young players trying to find their way in the most pressurised series that there is in international cricket. It's a simple as that.
''Hughes, Khawaja, even Steve Smith, although he's played reasonably well at different times … Rogers has played well, Watto [Shane Watson] probably hasn't been able to perform as consistently as he would have liked through this series.''
Ponting believes Australia can challenge strongly for the Ashes in the return series this summer, but only if the batsmen lift their game.
''I said right at the start of the Ashes series, the series was going to be won or lost by our top order batting,'' he said.
''If they could have had a good, strong series as a group then we would have been right in the series. There is some optimism from me but there was going into this series as well.
''I think the boys have probably played a little bit better than what the scoreline reads. They've been in three of those Test matches with a chance to win all three and probably would have won at Old Trafford.
''But the scoreline reads 3-0 and that's the difference sometimes between the really good sides and the teams that are on the way up, the know-how to actually get across the line and win those games.
''I think there is enough talent there, they are just going to have to learn.
''Unfortunately at the moment they are learning the hard way.''