Australian bowler Pat Cummins reaches for the ball on the second day of the fourth Test cricket match between South Africa and Australia won by South Africa at Wanderers cricket ground on March 31, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. / AFP PHOTO / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA (Photo credit should read GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images)

Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley has leapt to the defence of Australian captain Pat Cummins after the skipper was labelled as "gutless" by ex-paceman Mitchell Johnson.

The Queenslander's pointed sledge of his former teammate came in the wake of Cummins' choice not to publically back outgoing head coach Justin Langer.

However, in response to Johnson's public castigation, Hockley marked centre and went in to bat for the current captain.

“I think throughout the process, Pat has been very respectful [of Langer] and he’s also been very respectful of the private and confidential discussions we’ve had as we’ve consulted really broadly,” the board leader told Fairfax Media.

“Pat was certainly consulted … but his feedback was one of a broad amount of consultation.

“I think for Mitchell to be critical of Pat [is unfair] and any direct criticism of Pat is not merited.

“I thought that Mitchell Johnson’s comments were unfair and not merited or reflective of the situation."

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While referring to Cummins as "gutless", "holding an agenda" and being unfairly "lauded as some type of cricketing saint" in his piece published by The West Australian, the fiery fast bowler also launched further bouncers at other members of the Australian dressing room.

“The baggy green is hyped as the most revered symbol in Australian sport. But what does it stand for now? In the wake of the disgraceful white-anting of Langer as coach, which led to his resignation on Saturday, it stands for selfishness,” Johnson penned.

The taker of 313 Test wickets across his nine-year career in creams also took aim at Hockley's poles.

Still, the suit was good enough to dig out Johnson's yorkers.

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“There has been some discussion about did we let this … has it dragged out,” Hockley added.

“But I would say emphatically that we needed to make sure that with big decisions like this, that we run a thorough process.

“If we tried to do it during the Ashes it would have been a big distraction and we wouldn’t have been able to do it properly."

Cummins and the Australians will shortly travel to the subcontinent without Langer, with the tourist's Test series against Pakistan set to commence on March 4 in Rawalpindi.