Tuesday, March 22, 2011

End of the road for Ponting?

So there is buzz that cricket Australia may fire Ricky Ponting as captain for not leading by example.

I'm not the biggest Ponting fan. I think he's arrogant, spoilt and a cry baby.

Unfortunately, he's one of the best batsmen of all time and one of the best modern captains the game has seen. These, he feels gives him reason to act like a prick.

However, if Cricket Australia fire Ponting and just make him an integral part of the squad, I feel that they will be committing a tactical error.

Michael Clarke, I feel isn't ready to become test captain. A 6-1 ODI series victory over England doesn't give Clarke that job. He already captained Australia in one test match and didn't look comfortable at all. The loss, in fact, hit him so badly that he retired from T20 cricket and Cameron White was given responsibility of captaining a young looking Australian side.

Ponting's problem as captain is that he had a lot of great players retiring at the same time. Justin Langer, Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Damien Martyn and Jason Gillespie. That eight out of your 11 teammates.  Imagine someone like MS Dhoni in the same situation where Sachin, Dravid, Laxman and Zaheer decide to call it a day in a span of six months. There goes your middle order and 80 per cent of your bowling attack in a test match.

Ricky Ponting: Down and out?
This Australian squad has ruled cricket for 20 years. This is pretty much how the West Indies was in the 70s, 80s and early part of the 90s. What Australia have over West Indies is a strong domestic circuit, the desire to do well, self-belief that nothing is lost until the last ball is bowled. I believe they showed that in the game against Pakistan. Pakistan were chasing 176, which looks a fairly reasonable ODI score to chase. But Pakistan lost six wickets chasing it.

Ponting's led his side well in this World Cup. He's backed his bowlers, set the right fields. Australia's rustiness comes from a poor schedule done by the ICC, which gave them a 10-day break, which would make another team look a lot worse. Ponting's side did okay. He's been innovative. When the rest of the world opted to play spin, he used his strength, which is fast bowling. And let's face it: India isn't the only side that struggles against genuine quick bowling. Everyone does. And so far, it has worked.

What goes against Ricky Ponting is that he has lost three Ashes series, which include one home series. There is a 50 per cent chance that Australia may lose a quarterfinal, but Ponting cannot lose his job over these. If the rumours are true, then instead of playing, he should actually call it a day. It would be better for him as well. He's not been in the best of form with the bat either. Actually, he's been hitting the ball nicely. He's just had some rotten luck. It's something like what Mark Taylor had when he had that miserable patch for nearly a year, which ended with a century against England, followed by an unbeaten 334 against Pakistan.

While Ponting isn't likable like Taylor was, he commands the respect of his teammates and his opponents. His record speaks for itself and it'll be no time before he gets his groove back. Hopefully for his sake, Cricket Australia should consider these factors before they decide to fire him.  

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