06/01/2010

Ponting’s twilight?

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Since his 150 odd runs in the first Ashes Test at Cardiff, Ponting’s personal form has been at best modest. In addition to his indifferent form, the Australian cricket team has been floundering in a trough of inconsistency and routinely losing to teams that they would have whipped without much effort.

Starting with South Africa, teams that have never had a chance earlier come good in Australia. So much so even Australia’s series victory over West Indies created an impression that Australia was lucky to hold on to win the series.

Another factor that seems to have turned the tide against Ponting is the widespread condemnation that followed some really churlish and childish behaviour of his team. So dramatic was the change in the Australian public perception, one paper went to the extent of calling Ponting a “serial offender”.

All of this has increased the attention on Ponting and if one were to go by the Australian media, it appears that Ponting’s reign may well end sooner than expected.

In fact so intense has been the debate over Ponting that Shane Watson came to his captain's defence after play yesterday and declared, “We know exactly how Ricky Ponting plays. There's no doubt there's a big one coming really soon."

There is no denying the fact Ponting is still a great batsmen and a fielder, but he is certainly under pressure to turn around his team’s fortune because his captaincy record post Shane Warne has been patchy.

The situation has deteriorated to such an extent that despite all his vaunted powers as a cricketer, the Australian media has fused Ponting’s moderate form and the declining fortunes of the Australian cricket team together.

They have created a situation where if there is no dramatic turn around in Ponting and the Australian cricket team’s form, Ponting will have no other option than to leave.

Let us hope Cricket Australia is steadfast in their support of Ponting and look at finding the solution to the real problem in Australian cricket, i.e., lack of new talent.

(Just as this article was posted comes the news that  Australia beat Pakistan by 36 runs thus scripting an amazing turn around. However, it remains to be seen whether the Australian media back off from Ponting.)

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