Sydney: Australia coach Darren Lehmann has backed the decision to rest skipper Steve Smith for the remaining one-day international series against Sri Lanka after criticism from ex-captain Michael Clarke, reports said Friday.
Smith will miss three ODIs and two Twenty20 games to return home and prepare for next month`s one-day series in South Africa.
Smith played in all three losing Tests against the Sri Lankans and the first two one-day internationals before it was announced he would fly home to rest up.
Clarke, who retired after last year`s Ashes defeat in England, expressed his surprise at the decision.
"I would of (sic) liked to have seen the captain play until the series was won and then have a rest," World Cup-winning skipper Clarke said on social media.
"In the same breath if Smithy needed a break then he should have flown home after the Test matches not 2x ODIs in."
Former Test opener Michael Slater echoed Clarke`s sentiments, but Lehmann said he had no issue with their comments.
"It`s obviously a burden but a great burden captaining your country," Lehmann was quoted as saying in Australian newspapers Friday.
"We just wanted to make sure that he`s fresh and ready to go for South Africa and then the big (domestic) summer ahead.
"We planned that for a long time and he took some convincing. But as a coach and a selection panel we`re making sure he`s fresh and ready to go each and every time he plays for Australia."
Lehmann said he had no problems with Clarke`s criticism.
"We respect our former captains and former greats who have an opinion," Lehmann told The Daily Telegraph.
"But we think it`s the best thing for Steven to get him right and ready to go.
"It`s hard work captaining in all three formats. So we`re just making sure he gets a small break, and we`re only talking an extra week or two."
David Warner will take over the Australia captaincy in Sri Lanka for the rest of the tour.