Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ricky Ponting: Extraordinary Batsmen, Ordinary Captain.

Without wanting to seem disrespectful, Ricky Ponting's career needs a new spark. The composure, timing and technique on  display against India last week shows that although he's gone through a rough period form-wise, he still has the instincts and reflexes to play at the highest level. Having struggled against fast, short balls from Steyn, Morkel, Roach, Broad, Tremlett, Khan and Sharma in the last few years, he's acknowledged that he can no longer attempt to hook his way out of trouble as he did in his youth and has consequently become a safer, smarter batsmen.

If Ricky does decide to leave the post of captaincy, I don't foresee a quick nor quiet removal from the Test team, although the ODI team may look to rebuild in time for the Champions' Trophy and the next World Cup. Micheal Clarke, the bookmakers favourite, should be installed as the Captain of all 3 Australian Sides, and his careful handling of the up and coming spinners is a trait that will be a distinguishing factor between himself and Ponting. 

Although he has the highest winning percentage of any previous Australian Captain and oversaw  another 16 game winning streak, he benefited immensely from the presence and form of great players like Hayden, Langer, Martyn, Hussey, Gilchrist, Warne, McGrath & Lee, at the peak of their powers. He conducted most of his tactical tweaking in conference with Gilchrist, Warne and Hayden, which proved to be very successful, although the extent to which Ponting led or was directed is another matter all together.  Ponting couldn't win a series in India in 3 attempts, while Gilchrist made a few astute tactical changes to lead his side to a famous victory in what was considered the "Final Frontier".  Three Ashes series defeats sours the public's perception of him as a captain, but should not tarnish his reputation as  one of Australian Cricket's greatest ever batsmen.  

He may yet have an important part to play in the reestablishment of Australia as the world's preeminent side, as the Test side's anchoring batsmen, alongside young, up and coming batsmen.