When Ricky Ponting returned from the disastrous tour of India in October, a small scrum of media cornered him outside the international airport, asked a brace of tough questions, recorded a brace of defiant answers, then scurried off to file for deadline.

Eeny meeny miny moe. Who shall play and who shall go? Photo: AP

Hanging back behind it all was Ponting’s wife Rianna and his two year old daughter Emmy, who must have been busting to hug her Dad. When the last reporter disappeared, Ponting picked up Emmy in one hand, and manfully pushed his overburdened trolley through the car park with the other. He then packed his large, shiny SUV and drove off to his spacious, waterfront home in the Sutherland Shire.

In those brief, private moments, the Pontings looked like any other happily reunited family at the airport. Ricky was a dad and husband, not a cricketer and captain. It kind of made you feel all warm and gooey inside. But there’s nothing warm and gooey about the way this summer of cricket is panning out. And that same media scrum, quite rightly, is interrogating Ponting with increasing ferocity.

Their main focus is his scratchy batting, his seemingly directionless captaincy, and the fact he may be forced to walk (with a payout) just months into his latest two-year, multi-million dollar Cricket Australia contract if things don’t improve.

But there’s one question no one dares ask, even as England dominates Australia in all facets of the game and Australia’s cricketers, individually and collectively, at the crease and in the field, achieve new personal worsts.

The question is whether Ponting himself is to blame for Australia’s all-round cricketing ineptitude. Not just Ponting the batsman and captain, but Ponting the man manager.

Blaming the captain for his teammates’ incompetence might seem a ridiculously long bow in a game like cricket, a team sport which is really just 11 blokes performing individually in caps of a similar colour.

But many well-connected cricket people and former topline players are quietly saying that Ponting has been an undermining force in his time at the helm. He doesn’t inspire, he intimidates. Instead of including, he excludes. Instead of championing an us-against-them ethic, it’s us-against-us in the Australian dressing room.

They won’t, of course, write any of this in their media columns or blurt it out via Twitter, unless their name is Shane Warne. But in hushed conversations in car parks and the quieter corners of public watering holes, these former giants of the game will tell you that the one word which best characterises Ponting’s six year captaincy is “disharmony”.

I’ve interviewed Ponting one-on-one just three times. Afterwards, I have written mostly glowing things about him, including this piece. So this is not a gratuitous attention-grabbing do-over. I could have written that piece long ago and come off looking as stupid as Peter Roebuck, who ludicrously called for Ponting’s sacking after the controversial 2008 Sydney Test against India. Like, what was Australia supposed to do that day – curse the fact they’d had a lucky win?

But let’s ask the following about Ponting. Which player has blossomed under his tenure as captain? Forget for a moment the other measures of captaincy success, like a winning record (where he still matches Taylor/Waugh) and tactical nous (where he clearly languishes).

Instead, let’s ask: which player has blossomed under Ponting, the way Hayden and Langer, to name just two, gained self-belief under Steve Waugh’s protective wing?

Well, Shane Watson has come good in Ponting’s time, but probably only because he finally worked out that going to the gym 11 times a week wasn’t such a great idea. And Mitchell Johnson blossomed, then spectacularly unblossomed

Andrew Symonds is another who prospered under Ponting, before Ponting tossed him aside in 2009. Yes, Symonds was drunk one too many times. Yet Ponting still seemed keener to adhere to CA’s implicit demands for squeaky clean players than he was to help the bloke who almost single-handedly delivered him his first big trophy as (One Day) skipper – the 2003 World Cup.

Ponting plays the dog whistle almost as well as he plays the pull shot. Two days or so before the axe falls on a player is typically the time when he praises that player’s abilities loudest. It happened just the other week with Nathan Hauritz.

On the flipside, Ponting has an uncanny ability to downplay the form slumps of those he favours. You wouldn’t have heard Ponting say his good golfing buddy Marcus North was on his last chance lately, even though the whole of Australia knew it. In fact, he avoided the topic entirely.

And what About the Xavier Doherty selection? Ponting wanted the modestly-performed Tasmanian and he got him. If you reckon that would have made that better-credentialled Tasmanian spinner Jason Krejza feel unloved by his national skipper, you’d be right. And you’d have to assume that he is.

Under beloved coach Paul Roos, the Sydney Swans had a celebrated “no dickheads” policy, which was all about barring players, or types of behaviour, which everyone in the club pretty much mutually considered to be detrimental to morale. But the Swans are a club in a 16 (now 17) team league. They’re perfectly entitled to pick and choose who they want based on both merit and cultural fit. You could even argue they’re obliged to do so.

The Australian cricket team is different. It is, or should be, a pure meritocracy. Yet the whisperers will tell you than an implicit “no dickheads” policy exists in Ricky Ponting’s Australian team. Rub the skipper the wrong way and you’re out of there.

How else to explain Brad Hodge not playing despite averaging over 50 in tests. Or the Phil Hughes dropping early in the 2009 Ashes, despite the young opener banging together four tons in a mere month of county cricket on the eve of the series.

Never mind that Hughes now appears to be back in favour, despite (paradoxically) a run of poor form.

The inference is that if Ricky has an issue with a player, that player is cast aside. He doesn’t take them in for counselling, as I was reminded a good leader should in a HR briefing at work only this week. Instead, he gets Australian selectors to do his bidding, then presumably smiles inwardly as they wear the flak for their endless “chopping and changing”.

Most of this is hearsay, of course. What goes on in the Australian rooms is well protected and in the current news climate, that’s almost a relief. But geez, wouldn’t it be great to get a Wikileak or two on the inner workings of Ponting’s captaincy.

Bet your bottom dollar he’d come across as a lot less sensitive and loving than the guy in the car park with his two year old daughter on his arm.

Most commented

128 comments

Show oldest | newest first

    • TChong says:

      05:51am | 13/12/10

      The Poms are looking good , ( in comparison) .  The bookies would be paying very well on the Aussies to win the third ( or 4th + 5th).

    • Kevin says:

      07:01am | 13/12/10

      Cricket must be the only sport where the bulk of the team spend days together in the dressing room doing nothing.  In most other sports, you’re on the field for an hour or two, then after the game have a quick shower, get changed and leave so it doesn’t matter if one of your team mates is a complete dickhead.  I agree with the writer and have become convinced that certain players are picked, dropped or not selected in the first place not for anything they do on the field but rather their performances in the dressing room.

    • Laurie says:

      07:30am | 13/12/10

      The Australian players are supposedly professional cricketers. Their reputations depend on performances. Bowlers that cant get the ball within 60 cms of either side of the wicket looks dumb and is dumb. Bowlers that continually get pulled for four from bowling long-hops looks dumb and is dumb. Ponting hasnt batted well since his first ashes captaincy in England. Mitchell Johnson hasnt bowled well since the same time including bowling badly in England. The look amateurish and play like it. I wonder if their is a bowling coach. If I was captain and the best I had to call on to bowl was mitchell Johnson I would be in despair as well. The captain surely doesnt have to tell his bowlers to bowl at the off stump. 8 year olds know this. I am in despair as well as I cant watch the amateurish way the bowlers bowl. BUT having said that giving bowlers mediocre scores to bowl at makes matters worse.

    • Justin says:

      08:04am | 13/12/10

      It’s funny to see the expert media finally discovering Ponting’s questionable captaincy. The signs were there when he still had the champion team, yet it was overlooked (or worse, unseen).

      He’s leading in the fashion of the previous era with a team that can’t walk the walk, & it’s damaging the new crop of players. Organizational culture is top down. Sometimes the leading star needs to be moved aside for the good of the outfit - just ask David Jones.

    • tragic says:

      07:57am | 18/12/10

      Who is there to replace him?

    • MK says:

      01:57pm | 27/12/10

      who to replace him,
      okay we have someone who is damaging to new players,
      can’t set a field, and now can’t bat
      who to replace him?
      the bar has sank very low

    • Beno says:

      08:17am | 13/12/10

      It is great to read a piece that puts the balame at least partially where it lies.  Add Ponting’s petulant man management to coach Neilsens’s complete lack of ability and strategic thinking and the chairman of selectors old fashioned belief that cricket is still a game that should be ruled by older men in suits and we begin to see just why the Australian cricket team is going south.  The Nathan Hauritz case should be the final nail in the coffin of all three men.  He is clearly the only test class spin bowler Australia has and has proved on the field since being dropped that he has the ability and mental toughness to succeed.  He was let down by Ponting’s inexplicable strategy in India and his oh, so obvious lack of faith in him.  Add to Ponting’s petulance the sideline sniping of the aging, botox boofhead and you can begin to see whay a rudderless ship will always hit the rocks. The only thing that makes me think that maybe CA should start with sacking the coach and selection panel chairman first is that there is no obvious player ready to captain the side.

    • simon says:

      08:18am | 13/12/10

      I think Ponting must go, his technique has gone all stiff and rigid, he doesn’t have the suppleness or control in his batting he once had. His average over the last 3 years proves this. Time to go and give some new talent a chance!!!

    • kathryn says:

      07:12pm | 17/12/10

      i agree Ponting & Clarke must go

    • Markus says:

      08:53am | 13/12/10

      I’ve heard similar rumblings for years now, and it would explain a lot.
      The major flaw in the “no dickheads” policy comes when the captain (and selectors) can’t pass their own minimum requirement.

      I’d have no issue with Cricket Australia keeping Ponting in for the entirety of his new 2 year contract (recent short slump aside, he is still one of the best batsmen in the world). But not as captain. Whether he is enough of a professional to handle that is up to him.

    • benno says:

      09:03am | 13/12/10

      Cricket has always been about exclusion. It surprises no-one to hear Ponting does it. It’s been the case since I played in high schools teams in Bowral in the 80s and no doubt a lot longer. The captain and his inner core of mates set the cultural tone for the team, set the kind of jokes that are made, the kind of behaviour that’s expected, and they set the guys who get picked on. This is as much a part of cricket as batting and bowling.
      Sure, it’s the case with any sport, but few can match cricket for the mind games. There are mind games between the teams and also within a team - about belongong, being the right kind of guy, and being in the ‘in’ group.
      Stuart MacGill might not have done himself many favours but it’s clear this is why he wasn’t in the team for long, cause he didn’t get a long with the in guys. Like him or not, he could have been almost as good as Warne if the cricket team worked differently.

    • A Dose of Reality says:

      09:05am | 13/12/10

      Australian cricket has been destroyed by the ACB, when it sold Andrew Symonds during the tour by india, when it bent over and smiled as instructed, pretending that Indian crowds were not racist (“monkey”).  When the team was disciplined for celebrating a win! (are they supposed to lose?)

      The Australian team has played very differently since, and who could blame them - why play for honour and country when they are betrayed and offered up as cheap sacrifice?  Now it’s just a very good living, and again - who can blame them?

      Andrew Symonds was not a fringe player - he was a match-winner.  That he was sacrificed by the ACB as instructed by India was both insipid and disgraceful - and that he was thrown aside so easily sends a strong message to all other players - and it has nothing to do with their behaviour. 

      Many members of the current board are more renown for drinking than he was too!

      And being told not to enjoy a win?  Forget the rubbish on “ungentlemanly behaviour” this was absolute in it’s indication of the boards intent and (lack of) character.


      Aussie cricket needs a cleanout - of the ACB.  With that the team can re-build itself.

      (Put Chappell I. in charge)

    • Mark says:

      10:27am | 13/12/10

      Smack on! What happened to Symonds was a disgrace and just shows how misguided the current administration is.

      It appears this current team is more intent on following team rules and keeping up their profiles and twitter accounts than winning cricket matches. I have been a big fan of Ricky for a long time but his time has come. Maybe the issue is CA are too afraid to remove Ponting as they are uncertain about Clarke taking over? Understandably so too, in my opinion Clarke is a cancer within the team.

      CA, the selectors, coaching staff and most of the players need a massive clean out.

    • Dave-o says:

      10:38am | 13/12/10

      As they say in Qld Rugby. “Before you beat them on the field, you have to beat them in the boardroom.”

      The day CA capitulated for India is the day Australian cricket died.

      Retire In Peace Symonds. Sacrificed for the politicians in our sport.

    • Jimbo says:

      11:28am | 13/12/10

      Let’s get the Symonds record right. He put in a good consistent performance at a world cup - and that’s it.
      Before and after he was mediocre, close as anything to what’s known as a flat track bully.

    • Shiva says:

      11:57am | 13/12/10

      Lol Indian crowds are racist…that is the funniest thing an Australian can say….Been going to the MCG for 25 years…..I could not think of a more racist crowd…Usually, I am happy to get home on one piece….Puhleeaase…get over it…

    • A Dose of Reality says:

      11:57am | 13/12/10

      Jimbo -

      Symonds is used in this sub-thread to illustrate what went wrong with CA - the board.

      The day it bent over for India is what has destroyed Australia’s game.

      You have missed the point.

    • A Dose of Reality says:

      12:22pm | 13/12/10

      Shiva -

      The difference is (and you know it), that if an Aussie crowd was to chant monkey as they did in India, referring to an Indian player - all hell would break loose and there would be prosecutions and the like from the Aussie authorities WITHOUT any need for prompting from India.

      The Indian authorities simply pretended it didn’t happen - and demanded that the Australian board do the same, which it disgracefully did.

      Also, yes the Aussie crowds are what they are - but there has never been a concerted chant of racist taunt, directed to a player, by an entire crowd, in Australia during a cricket game.

      Or did you not bother to hear it?

      Not in decades has a player been permitted to racially taunt another cricketer on the field.

      Or again, did you choose not to hear it?

      But in any case, you miss the point, the cause of Australia’s cricketing problems is the disgraceful way the ACB abandoned it’s team.

    • Levi says:

      05:01pm | 18/12/10

      Shiva mate, the MCG crowd does not chant racist comments in unison. Indian crowds do. When theyre not engaged in caste based murder and the like. But hey that’s just the facts i’m sorry if i offended your politically correct sense of entitlement.

      Answer one thing for me please? Why is it that Indians feel that they can never be accused of racism? Are you as an entire race somehow above racism? Why do you think only anglo people can be racist? Doesn’t matter what colour you are buddy anyone can be racist.

      Wake up and smell the roses big fella.

    • Andrew says:

      08:28pm | 18/12/10

      Spot on. The culture was going just fine unti the selectors sold them out, preferring to kowtow to the BCCI. Symonds tolerated the betrayal in Monkeygate 1 (CA has apparently never watched An Aussie Goes Bolly or they would know what everyone else on earth does) but then was sold out in Monkeygate 2 and the rest of the team butchered. No wonder. And it’s not all Ponting’s doing - he was as much a victim as anyone (except Symonds of course).

    • CanberraSOF says:

      09:06am | 13/12/10

      The way you write shows that you is (sic) dumb!

    • MarK says:

      09:06am | 13/12/10

      Just on the cricket and such since when do we “have” to have a spinner in the side?

      It seems we pick the “best” (and I use that term in a relative sense that I am probably under consideration for my bowling since I did ok once in a school game) three pace bowlers and then the “best” (meaning the current flavour of the month who hasn’t just been hit all around the park in the last test match) spinner to make up the attack.

      Why don’t they pick the “best” four bowlers and go with that. Given we are looking back to the Ethan Horwitz days with longing, yearning, optimism and with a sense of wonder of the guile of young Hawitz surely we can deduce that, not to be coy, the current stock of spinners suck.

      Here we are saying this guy Beer (best name ever…..EVER) has a home ground knowledge of the WACA having played four first class matches there having come from next door Victoria a lazy 3,000 km or so away. Interestingly enough Bell, Strauss and Pieterson have played 1 test at the WACA each which is one more than Beer and only 3 less first class games there. Sort of puts in perspective doesn’t it.

      Why not just pick the best four bowlers and be done with it?

      I am really worried to be honest with what is happening at the moment.

      We pick bowlers with averages that resemble batsmen. We look to guys like Ferguson as a saviour who averages 36 in a first class career with the road of Adelaide as his home ground. Our test batsmen have averages this series that resemble bowling averages (apologies to Hussey and Haddin - I guess Watson too but he hasn’t really kicked any starts to huge scores) the bowlers have bowling averages resembling batsmen. They really are abysmal but at least Harris had a real crack in Adelaide

      More of a worry to me though and was the one thing I believe really made Taylors team but more so Waughs team the greats they were was that to play Australia meant you were in danger of losing your career. Those sides caused more retirements, droppings, bad form in opponents than any other I can remember.

      What is happening know is England and India etc etc are doing it to us.

      I wish Beer (best name EVER) all the best but in all seriousness 16 wickets at 40 and he is called into a “must not lose game”. It beggars belief that this is the answer now or long term. I truly hope I am wrong. We will see.

    • iansand says:

      10:31am | 13/12/10

      If only Beer had been around when Peter Tohhey was playing.  As the Hill baner put it - A Cricketer So Great They Named a Brewery After Him.  The last time I saw that banner it was upside down to indicate distress, I think.

    • MarK says:

      11:00am | 13/12/10

      Hahaha

      I forgot about Toohey to be honest. Yep that was another awesome name and I remember those signs as well.

      Awesome stuff

    • MK says:

      12:29pm | 13/12/10

      Because on on day 4 /5 if pitches often become conudsive to spin, See Swan cleaning up Australia in Adelaide
      Also if your best three quicks arent getting any swing/seam movement what good is your 4th best going to do?,
      However some pitchwes may not be good for a spinner, in which case 4 pace bowlers may be a good option

    • Guin says:

      09:29am | 13/12/10

      Anthony, hello again. I would just like to mention a few things in regards to your “story”. Andrew Symonds was drunk and turned up to the ground late on game day, which was not his first offence. The quiet whispers in car parks from former players about Ponting that they won’t say in the media? How is Anthony Sharwood privy to these conversations? In regards to players prospering under Ponting, two players come to mind. Brad Haddin who had massive shoes to fill has become a great keeper and very handy with the bat. Also Simon Katich who had to go away and score alot of domestic runs and Ponting gave him the opportunity to go from a middle order batsman to a succesful opener. I couldn’t agree with you more in regards to Brad Hodge, I think his international career should be alot fatter than it is. As an Australian Captain and the second best batsman this country has ever seen I think he deserves a little more respect than what he gets. It’s embarrasing to think that the Australian media is becoming more like the pommy media in the fact when we aren’t going so well we turn on our own like they’re the enemy. I did love the little disclaimer at the end of your “article”, “most of this is heresay, of course”. Another wonderful piece from a great thinker of cricket.

    • Markus says:

      10:01am | 13/12/10

      Haddin was a player who was already world class being only kept out by one of the all-time greats.
      Like Mike Hussey (who was stuck behind Damian Martyn for years), Haddin would have been first choice keeper in almost every other Test team during the Gilchrist era.

    • Al Hammond says:

      10:30am | 13/12/10

      Couldn’t agree more. Always good to have credible sources rather than ‘car park chatter’ as a basis for your argument. This just feels like someone having to fill their prescribed word count for the day

    • Ant Sharwood says:

      10:48am | 13/12/10

      Guys, the carpark chatter i allude to was chatter in a carpark between me and a former australian Test great last week. it crystallised many similar convos i’ve had in recent years. Women’s mags invent sources. I don’t.

    • Al Hammond says:

      02:59pm | 13/12/10

      Mate, you’re still basing most of your article on ‘hearsay’

    • Adrian says:

      03:37pm | 14/12/10

      We want names Sharwood! NAMES! raspberry

      Personally I love Ricky Ponting and I think many media, former players and average punters (pardon the pun, Punter) underestimate his value. His win-at-all-costs mentality and hunger have sometimes spilled into over-enthusiasm, but it’s always his intent to go out and give 110% for his country and that transpires into everyone he plays under. Unfortunately in recent years, the hunger hasn’t accounted for the talent shortage but I personally didn’t expect our golden reign at #1 to continue forever. Unfortunately that expectation from some (Sharwood?) has spilled into the blame game and mud-raking at every opportunity.

      Ponting’s done an unselfish thing in trying to guide Australia through this dark period of cricket when he could have retired at the top and cemented himself as a captain with a far superior win-loss record to many of his counterparts throughout the last 150 years.

      I would like to know how often in history a 2-1 series loss has been transformed into a 5-0 whitewash in the space of 18 months, as Ponting led his team to in 2006/07.

    • Adam Diver says:

      09:37am | 13/12/10

      Mna management is as important, if not more important than strategy in my humble opinion.

      Exhibit A: Wayne Bennett

    • Lapun Pinis says:

      12:02pm | 13/12/10

      Spot on Adam.  If Wayne Bennett had been in charge of the cricket team Symonds would have still been there doing his thing and ..... maybe by now… the captain.  It wasn’t to be of course.  I think Anthony’s summation of the Ponting problem is pretty accurate.  Ponting has very obviously cast aside some players who may have become great with a little compassion and guidance, whereas even as a TV spectator his attitude to the ones he doesn’t like is painfully obvious and must be degrading to the younger one trying to make their way.  He has had the opportunity to lead a great team in Australia, inherited from a real great, Steve Waugh, but he should have quit while he was ahead - about 3 years ago.  Clarke is certainly not the solution and a real leader, Katich, will now never make it.  Watson perhaps?

    • MK says:

      12:33pm | 13/12/10

      You say that as if there is any positive aspect to Ponting’s straegic ineptitude

    • Matthew says:

      09:46am | 13/12/10

      I’ve heard Mark Taylor (One of Australia’s better captains) say at least 3 times this year already “Why has Ricky got him standing at X when it’d be better if you moved him 2-5 metres to either the left or right and you’d have a lot more success”.  That doesn’t include the “Why is he standing so wide?” when referring to the slips only to have the ball go through the gap….3-4 times then move the slip.

      Ponting is the worst captain we’ve had in a long time.  He barely says anything to the media and when he does he *never* has a smile even when they win.  He hasn’t played a good game in at least 5 years (since we first lost the ashes) and I don’t know why he’s still in the team.

    • Grating voice says:

      10:00am | 13/12/10

      I just wish Taylor would go away. His voice is the most annoying sound. Perhaps Taylor could write down his profound thoughts and Sandra Sultry could read them?

    • MK says:

      12:50pm | 13/12/10

      Adelaide test there was gold, Forget the commentators names
      A: “sometimes you have to be careful not to outsmart yourself as captain”
      B: “Its amazing how many catches go to traditional fielding positions”
      (after Cook poppoed one off his pads into the vacant batpad postion for about the third time that morning)

      If ponting wouldnt have to trie hard to outsmart himself,
      by the time he has done up his shoelaces, he has succeeded,

    • Lapun Pinis says:

      02:21pm | 13/12/10

      To Grating Voice I say that I agree Mark taylor isn’t the best, but the problem is basically his knowledge and pronunciation of our language.  NOW, if you want a really bad voice, that is combined with the sense of humour of a 4yo. and an ego to beat almost anybody other than Tony Gregg, - What about the ubiquitous Damien Fleming?    Ugh!

    • sackcloth&ashes; says:

      09:52am | 13/12/10

      Always wondered if Stuart Clark had run over a selector’s dog - how else to explain his non-role in the last Ashes series. Even when he got on the field, he often seemed to have a wait a loooooong time before being tossed the ball to bowl.

    • Markus says:

      10:07am | 13/12/10

      I wondered the same with Nathan Bracken. He was in the top 5 ODI bowlers in the world for years, then at a time when we had lost McGrath, Warne, Gillespie, Lee and then Clark in quick succession, Cricket Australia decide not to renew his contract?

    • Louie Mac says:

      10:25am | 13/12/10

      Oh yeah - the old tall poppy knock ‘em down syndrome.  We can’t win all the time, even if we wanted to.  Yeah, I’m a Collingwood supporter, too, as well as an Australian Test Team and Ponting supporter.  I will support them whether they win or lose.  Let the Poms win - after all that’s where our cricket came from, isn’t it?

    • Matt says:

      10:51am | 13/12/10

      Your guess is as good as mine. Also think Brad Hodge and maybe even Brett Lee. These are blokes that are performing that haven’t got a hope in hell of being picked for the test team due to “looking to the future” or more commonly known as the ACB youth policy.  Clearly it’s working….

      In the Sydney telegraph on the weekend there was an article with I Chappell interviewing G Chappell and that reinforced what is the horrible truth in that they see Ponting as the captain for the forseeable future, they like M Clarke (I don’t know why) and they see M Johnson as Australia’s best bowler.  All I can say is we are doomed !

      With Katich (my pick for captain) how about this as a test team of current performers who could mix it up with England like Victoria did on the weekend.  In no particular order:-
      S Marsh
      S Watson
      P Hughes
      M Hussey (c)
      B Hodge
      B Haddin
      S Smith
      R Harris
      S Clarke
      D Bollinger
      B Hilfenhaus
      12th man is C Mckay

      If the selectors really wanted to win the series this is the sort of team you would need to pick and you would have to ditch Ponting and M Clarke now to give the new team a shot at success.

      It’s nice to dream…...

    • ILR says:

      10:03am | 13/12/10

      I’m expecting the day, just like a quarter of a century ago, when I’ll turn on the box and be confronted by a teary-eyed cricket captain announcing he’s falling on his “own” sword.  Sadly this time there’s no Allan Border waiting in the wings.

    • cybacaT says:

      10:05am | 13/12/10

      I’d like to look further back than the article extends.  Back to when Australia overlooked the obvious choice for next Captain - Shane Warne - and instead went for the less risky option of Ponting.  The world scratched their heads at how Warne could have missed out - he was the world’s premier bowler, he was part of an invincible team and on-field he’d effectively been doing half the Captain’s role of motivating the players, setting fields, offering suggestions on how to switch things up to get out troublesome batsmen.  Instead we have Ponting, who seems a nice enough bloke, but he does play favourites, has made some very dodgy selection decisions and really hasn’t prepared and performed at a level his salary requires.

    • Behruz Irani says:

      12:10pm | 13/12/10

      I agree Warne should have been made captain ahead of Ricky. Ricky is a good player but a terrible captain.  He makes amateur mistakes by placing fielders after the ball has popped in the position. He will go down in history being the captain who has broken a lot of records and not the kind he would be proud of.

    • Mr Subramanian says:

      04:23pm | 13/12/10

      You’re talking about the Shane Warne who has been flirting quite publicly with Liz Hurley despite being (re)married to Simone, yes? That would send the message that we care more about winning than about character, and frankly I’m glad we didn’t choose him.

      The selectors approach of sticking, sticking, sticking worked while we had a champion team ~ someone would find the form, somewhere, to change the complexion of the game. They’ve all gone and retired now ~ we need a new formula. Meritocracy is definitely the way ~ that, and if you get injured, you go away and prove your fitness before we let you back in the team.

    • Gerard says:

      07:47pm | 13/12/10

      There was one- and only one- legitimate reason not to give Warne the captaincy in 2004. At the time Steve Waugh retired, Warne was still serving a drug ban. The ideal solution would have been to make Gilchrist captain, who could then step down shortly afterwards ‘to concentrate on batting and keeping’ and let Warne take over. Unfortunately, the board was more concerned with ridiculous and irrelevant considerations of the kind put forward by Mr Subramanian than with what would serve interests of the team and picked Ponting as Waugh’s long-term successor.

    • Tony T. Teacher says:

      10:07am | 13/12/10

      BEER is the best name ever…..EVER?!? You’re easily pleased. You’ve obviously never heard of Misty Hyman, Steele Sidebottom or Charity Beaver. Yes, the last one is real.

    • MarK says:

      11:02am | 13/12/10

      For a Australian Test cricketer Tony - context please.

      That porn star Misty Peaks was very aptly named too…

    • Sludger says:

      11:07am | 13/12/10

      Tony, never heard of Beaver.  But you have cheered a rather bleary, hang over filled Monday.  Reminders me though of that brilliant call back in the Packer days:  “Lillee bowled Willee caught Dillee.”  Classic!

    • BigBone the Magnificent says:

      10:09am | 13/12/10

      Bring back Warne to captain and bowl, have Ricky stay on as a batsman and within a couple of months a relaxed Ricky will be making runs again, and the Aussies captain in waiting will have a better “captain role-model” to learn from. This, of course, is a 2 year at best plan and will not win us back The Ashes this series.

    • Matt F says:

      10:09am | 13/12/10

      symonds had many chances. in fact a better arguement would be he only got so many chances because of pontings support. he turned up drunk (not just hungover but completely drunk) to an international game for god’s sake! and still had a number of years in the national team after that.

      talk is that hodge fell offside with more then just ponting. it was most of the team. and given he has been retired from the long form of the game for a year now, and the vics haven’t played many one-day matches in the past month he’s been resigned to grace cricket only of late. should be in the world cup squad though

      doherty was a clear failiure but his form for tasmania was infinitely better then krejza’s, so much so krejza struggled to get into the shield team so i wouldn’t say krejza is that much better credentialled. one fluke match out of an otherwise below average cricket career (including domestic cricket) isn’t exactly better credentialled

      you say nobody blossomed under ponting but then name two players who did and claim it had nothing to do with ponting? as for the langer and hayden comparisons, look through domestic cricket. nobody playing now is anywhere near as good as they were at their peak. one could also argue katich and haddin have blossomed under ponting.

      if what you say is at all true, then surely if ponting hated phil hughes then he wouldn’t have played against pakistan last year and wouldn’t be playing now? he was unfairly dropped because johnson and siddle couldn’t take 20 wickets against england 18 months ago (my god it’s deja vu!) and we needed the extra bowler, and watson just happened to make runs. sort of like how jaques made a hundered in his last test, got injured, katich made runs as his replacement and he’s been nowhere near the side since.

      having said all that the reason we now appear to be an average team is because we have an average team with an average pool of players to choose from! the aussie era of dominance is finished. we need to get over it

    • Brizdog says:

      02:34am | 18/12/10

      funny thing about the game symonds rocked up drunk to was that the “sober” players were unable to beat Bangladesh - should have still played Symonds - drunk he is a better player than most in the world still.

    • Sludger says:

      10:10am | 13/12/10

      A good article.  I have a few ideas though.  I think part of the blame is the celebration of mediocrity that is now apparently the norm.  You say that Ponting has brought Watson along.  That may be.  But Watson is at best a mediocre player.  You look at his entire record and you will see that.  However, given the team we have he looks very good and that is a problem.  Also I do agree Ponting tries too hard to be squeaky clean.  We all remember his boozy days and problems at Kings Cross nightclubs.  However, elite athletes are very intense people.  Look at all our greats and they all had a touch of larrikin.  And I do not mean just cricket, all elite athletes like to celebrate, as they should.  I think stifling the competitiveness is causing major issues.  Can’t celebrate a win?  Why play?  Oh, for the money.  And therein is the problem.  Well, that is my theory.

    • BobbyDan says:

      10:17am | 13/12/10

      Ponting is yesterdays man as is vice Clarke.

      There are boo’s (booze?) for Beer a tomorrows man, joining the today men.

      Ponting and Clarke should go, MORE tomorrow should men be brought in, and sort out the best of the today men, to build a team from.

    • Geoff says:

      10:19am | 13/12/10

      Ponting - You’ll feel better on Swisse. Take another dose.

    • ComeOn says:

      10:19am | 13/12/10

      One need only consider Ponting’s behaviour in the years before he became captain in order to discern the true measure of the man. These antics seem to have conveniently been forgotten. He was expected to mature and grow as both a man and a cricketer. Clearly, he has cast aside the opportunity to do so.

    • Mark Young says:

      10:28am | 13/12/10

      Andrew Symonds single handedly won Ponting his first Trophy?

      This is a spectacular revision of what happened at that tournament. He had two good games with cracking innings, but not as many as Gilchrist or as big an innings as Ponting played. And what about the bowling of Glen McGrath?

      Symonds had his moments, but he also acted like a jerk and made me cringe to know he was representing my country. Better of without him.

    • Cricket Tagic says:

      10:55am | 13/12/10

      They kept the stay at home Captain (who now happens to be the head selector) in the team through his record run of ducks until public pressure saw his demise, all that seems to be happening is a repeat of those dark old days. Then we have a coaching staff which took over a champion team, with most that have since retired, with our win rate with it. Plus the only bowler in the selection panel is dumped along with our ability to bowl out a team. Not taking on Dennis Lillee as the bowing coach before the 2005 Ashes and ridiculing him for suggesting they needed a full time one, the dumping of Allan Border as selector over his personal sponsorship with a rival beer brand, getting rid of Rod Marsh from head of the Cricket Academy and whom is now in charge of the Pommy one and the Captains feuds with some of his bowlers all seem to have in some way impacted on the performance of the team as a whole.

    • BillfromBendigo says:

      10:55am | 13/12/10

      First class observations with which, sadly, I must agree.  I would add that, at times, Ponting somehow appears to be pre-occupied with matters other than cricket.  As though waiting for the news of a terminally ill relative.  I have written elsewhere that tactically, he has shown no imagination in allowing ANY team to knock up over 1000 runs in 2 digs!  I have been a loyal supporter of his captaincey, but something has gone.  Something in his life has gone awry either in or out of the game and is affecting his effectiveness.  Harsh, perhaps, but it’s time to blood another.

    • Dave says:

      11:02am | 13/12/10

      Rumors of this have been around for awhile. Piss off ponting and your black listed. Pretty well known

    • Baghern says:

      11:09am | 13/12/10

      WHAT THE… I’ve been wikileaked…

      I’ve been saying this for years.  Ponting has his own little ‘club’... with exclusion, detrimental to any players position, look at what happened to Clarky.  Ponting isn’t a captain, he’s a player, he’s one of the guys.

    • CHA says:

      11:17am | 13/12/10

      Ponting like a lot of his teammates have hung around far too long and are well past their best .
      This is shades of past Pommy teams - we liked to call them Dads Army -now Australia should be known as Dads Army. Too old, too slow and way over the hill.
      They are just hanging on for as long as they can for the big money on offer - it is time for the Selectors to get rid of Ponting, Clarke, Hussey, Siddle   and Johnson and bring in the young players .These people have not performed for years and remain in the team on past reputation only -not current performance- they will not get any better at their ages.
      The Poms have moved away from using old has beens and never was players and they are reaping the rewards.
      It is also time for new Selectors , young fellows like Warne, Waugh , Taylor and Co so that change is complete and new ideas are introduced.

    • DS says:

      12:16pm | 13/12/10

      Siddle is 25. he’s not going anywhere.

    • Lails says:

      12:23pm | 13/12/10

      The selectors should get rid of Hussey as he is in the team on past reputation not current performance!?! Have you even watched any of the first two tests???? Admittedly he had a slump but if he didn’t play in the first two tests Australias performance would have been even more embarassing…

    • Andrew says:

      07:13am | 14/12/10

      The 2006/07 aussie ashes squad was called “Dad’s Army’ too….....and they won 5-0.
      Age has little to do with it. Too slow and way over the hill….Hussey is probably the quickest mover in the team and has been the best player so far this series.
      It has more to do with picking players, regardless of age, that are not at their best, picked out of position, or just not good enough. North is a run of the mill #4 shield batsman asked to bat #6 and stop collapses in test cricket. Johnson’s head is not in the right place and needs more than a week in the nets to get himself right. Spinners who can’t run through grade batting line-ups are expected to win tests.
      Mind you, there aren’t a whole lot of alternative options. Was watching higlights on youtube of Australia A matches back in the 90s. Batsmen like Hayden, Langer, Martyn, Blewett, Law, Lehmann, Bevan etc (all guys averaging 50+ in FC cricket)  couldn’t get in the Aust team back then.  Now our options are almost decade long underperformers such as Ferguson and S Marsh.

    • nsofperth says:

      11:28am | 13/12/10

      Ricky is not a great player as a lot of people think, he just happened to have a fantastic team to back him up in the past. What you see now is what he is truly capable of as a batsman and a captain.

    • stephen says:

      11:31am | 13/12/10

      Well now what’s Hauritz up to ?
      Nothing to do ?
      Come and play Cricket, son.
      Show our Captain what’s a ‘ton’.
      Warnie wants him back,
      and I reckon if can stay off the phone to Miss Hurley (Jade ?),
      and give it another crack,
      then stick Mr. H. at the stumps and call a spade, a spade.

    • Jim says:

      11:32am | 13/12/10

      Cricket selections have given us some of the greatest mysteries of all time…why was Kim Hughes allowed to retire after a couple of poor performances? Why was Craig McDermott dropped? Why was Langer never considered for one-dayers? Why was Bracken never considered for tests? Why was Gillespie dropped after a double-ton? His bowling wasn’t too bad… Why was Brad Hodge dropped? How come Shaun Tait is only good for 4 overs at a time? What does Stuart Clarke have to do? Where the bloody hell is Michael Clarke’s form? Who was the guy who, according to ‘Joe the Cameraman’, couldn’t bowl, couldn’t throw? Why was Michael Slater dropped? Why was Bevan only ever considered for one-dayers? Why didn’t Stuart MacGill play more tests? WHY IS TONY GREIG STILL COMMENTATING???

      Ahhh….maybe Wikileaks has the answers…

    • Kev says:

      12:30pm | 13/12/10

      Kim Hughes - I was a massive Kim Hughes fan but he was inconsistent
      McDermott - because of injuries. Even at 16 he had knee probs.
      Langer - because M Waugh, Gilly and Hayden were better.
      Bracken - because Lee. McGrath, Gillespie were better.
      Gillespie - because he wasn’t in the team for batting and he lost it when the Poms took him apart.
      Hodge - team disharmony
      Tait - because his action is so wild and his body can’t handle it.
      S Clark - become 5 yrs younger again.
      M Clarke - hopefully it’s now back.
      Scott Muller
      Slater - because he lost the plot when his marraige disintergrated.
      Bevan - because Martyn, Lehman, M Waugh had better techniques. There’s only 6 batting spots in a side and he wasn’t in the top 6.
      MacGill - S Warne and then when he got his chance he completely lost it. In WI he bowled a heap of pies, Fullies, short, wides, he lost it.
      Tony Greig - to stir the pot and keep everyone entertained with his banter. Doesn’t hurt that he’s well entrenched with the in crowd at Ch 9.

      Now you don’t have to bother with Wikileaks smile

    • Anthony Smeltink says:

      12:38pm | 13/12/10

      Whats wrong with Tony Greig???

    • Ian says:

      11:36am | 13/12/10

      Bringing back Warne into the top eleven is ridiculous as it only exemplifies the problems currently existing within Australian cricket.  Ponting and Clark are good cricketers, but they are also scapegoats in the current environment and are copping a barrage from critics.  Australians have been fortunate to have had a team that dominated world cricket.  Realistically this could not have lasted and has not.  It is now time to rebuild the team with younger players, not bring back older players and try to bring back past glories..  Cricket must be positive in its approach and both it and its supporters will be the winners!

    • Shaun Newman says:

      11:36am | 13/12/10

      So long as the team has to carry the well connected but under performing Michael Clarke we will struggle.

    • Kevin says:

      12:33pm | 13/12/10

      They can’t drop Clarke.  KFC’s whole summer advertising campaign revolves around him.

    • jessica says:

      11:37am | 13/12/10

      Perhaps Ponting should go back to state cricket.  Oh no he can’t do that.  Only played a handful of games fin the last three years for a state that he neither lives on or supports publically.  Maybe he should get out of his mansion and go back and support local cricket.  If he doesnt want to live in Tasmania, call himself a New South Welshman, we dont want him.

    • Doug says:

      12:01pm | 13/12/10

      Andrew Symonds was our leading Test batsmen when the Indian disgrace occurred. He was far and away our leading scorer that year and on song for a 1000+ season. He was also the mortar that held the middle and late order together and enabled incredible fightbacks from terrible positions. You might also recall that our last Ashes campaign was built around him filling that role and Hayden ensuring a solid start to each innings.  And that was public. Somehow that was cast to the winds and nothing put in its place. We all know the result. The selectors dumped the 2006-07 winning formula assuming the rest could carry it forward. Well, no. Lose Warne, McGrath, Gilchrist and Langer and then compound it with Hayden and Symonds and nothing is left. Partnering Hayden with Katich was insane. Katich put all the pressure on Hayden to attack.  My point is the attacking mindset of a champion side was replaced with run accumulators. Clarke shouldn’t be in any one day side for example.  He just cannot force the pace. You want a winning side from current Australian players? Look beyond the Sheffield Shield and you’ll find your Test XI. Hayden, Hughes, Hodge, Ponting, Haddin, Watson, Symonds, Hauritz, Warne, Harris, Lee, Clark, Hilfenhaus. OK, 13 players. If Warne plays, he is captain.  If he doesn’t, Hayden is. They all still play,  in India or England or Australia. Folks, this is 1977-78 all over again and if you don’t think outside the square, our pretend XI under Ponting gets slaughtered. Bring back Roy and Haydos and Shane if you can get him. And they will roll England sure as eggs.

    • Behruz says:

      12:26pm | 13/12/10

      Doug snap out of the past and look to the future. Yes we had our good years and it had to come to an end sometime ( sniff sniff).

      Now is the time to look at the future and if you want to think out side the square get a few under 20’s players in the team with a few of the experienced players. Yes we will loose more games than we win but short term pain for long term gain.

    • Craig says:

      12:04pm | 13/12/10

      Just another typical one dimensional article that comes along when ever a sporting team is struggling to do well. You know of all these “ex players” that talk in car parks at how poor Ponting is as a captain yet refuse to say who they are, lets be honest if they do exist they are more than likely cricketers who never got a game when Ponting was in charge and have come to the same ludicrous conclusions you have.

      I’m assuming that Ponting hand picked Beers for the upcoming Perth test to? No, the selectors did. So why do you think that Ponting hand picked Doherty? If you had asked any cricket fan (from your narrow minded article I’m not sure if you are)  the names Doherty and Beers before the Ashes had started I can 100% guarantee you who people knew more about, Doherty. If you think the selectors are merely a puppet for Ponting you need a reality check.

      You say Brad Hodge has been unlucky, if you looked back through past players you would find that there are many more that have suffered the same fate under various captains. Stuart McGill, Jimmy Maher, Michael Di Venuto, Jamie Siddons, Jamie Cox are some just from memory that haven’t been able to crack it. Sometimes it comes down to being in the right place at the right time.

      Open your eyes, I’m all for people having opinions but don’t blur the line between facts and opinions. Can’t believe how many people are having a cry about it all, we don’t have the cattle, England had the same problem a few years ago, it’s a natural cycle, get over it.

    • Matt says:

      12:14pm | 13/12/10

      So to summise the general theme of the comments so far, there are at least several reasons why Australian cricket is terrible at the moment:

      - Poor selectors - should be blokes like Taylor, S Waugh etc
      - Poor captain/Vc and some players that don’t deserve to be in the team
      - Poor coach
      - Disharmony and lack of decisive leadership
      - Gotten rid of blokes like Rod Marsh from running key academy’s who now work in England.
      - Weak ACB, bowing to dollar pressure from the Indian powerhouse (think symonds monkey comments)

      The list continues…...

      Any one of those reasons would upset the apple cart but when you add a few of them together, its no wonder we are screwed.  Changes have to be made from the top down but who sacks the chairman if he is the first that needs to go to start the snowball? 

      There in lies the real question, who can bowl the powers that be over if the powers that be are the start of the rot.

    • Thedon says:

      12:16pm | 13/12/10

      Its about time someone wrote this piece.

      When Chappell a month ago compared Ponting’s win record favourably against Steve Waugh for the period where he had the the old players I almost cried.

      How stupid and biased can you get, Look at who fostered the players and built the team that was delivered into Pontings shaky hands.

      It is real sad when you realise that we have a bunch of selectors in place in Australian Cricket who don’t understand brilliance when it is under their nose. Instead they react with immature jealousy and ego bullshit.

      I am talking about the Chappell, Simpson and Taylor mob who have supported this Ponting experiment, and will stop at nothing to undermine the Steve Waugh legacy.

      Just read the books put out by the likes of Hayden, Langer and Gilly, listen to them and you get the sense of a captain nurturing and supporting his team.

      Oh some might say this is sissy and they should all be big men on their own, that wwould be the idiots and their stupidity talking.

      Check out the Steve Waugh, Buchannan and even Mick Young effect on the Australian team and its performance. Great Character is reflected.

      But according to some this team and its coach wasn’t reflective of the true Australian cricket culture is that right Simpson, Chappell and Taylor, you jealous shits.

      What do you think Ponting leaves for who ever takes over,not much.

      Eddie Jones used up a great Australian rugby side for two really great games in 2003 and built and left us nothing. Go back and see who built and left the team to Eddie, a truely great coach.

      Even Guus showed us how anyone can use a good team up, but doesn’t necessarily build a teamto go on. The previous Australian coach built that team for the previous world cup, when Soccer Australia had nothing, was broke in fact.

      Undertand good coaches and captains build teams that win, not selectors. NSW state of origin should be able to tell you that.

    • Craig says:

      12:40pm | 13/12/10

      So Steve Waugh made the players who they were, he was responsible turning those mediocre players into greats? They were all good begin with it’s not as if Waugh went to the local D-Grade cricket match and picked a bunch of hack to turn into cricket greats. Once again, Ponting was in the right time at the right place, who ever is captain next wont be, it’s a natural cycle, its been happening for years!!!

    • Dan says:

      12:55pm | 13/12/10

      I remember Steve Waugh taking more than 200 bruises on his body to score a double century against a hostile bowling attack in the West Indies. That was when I started to see him as a leader. Knowing his hook was his weakness he preferred to let the ball cannon into his body than play a shot. Each time he was hit, he grimaced and took guard with more venom than before. Steve Waugh was the kind of leader who can make normally sane men run at machine guns.

      On top of that he was a reformer. He invented the slower ball, he invented the slog sweep. He bowled a spinner at one end and a quick at the other, not exactly revolutionary but also very different to traditional cricket.

      Most of all he was a big game player - he was nicknamed the Iceman when he started because of his ability to bowl low scoring overs at the death of a one day game. He scored 100 on the last ball of the day at the SCG when he needed to save his career. He pulled out the slog sweep for the first time in a world cup game Australia HAD to win.

      As a captain his fielding choices were inspired. How many times did we hear commentators questioning his choice only for a catch to go straight to that man two balls later? He also trusted his bowlers until they couldn’t be trusted and as a former bowler he knew when they were broken. But most of all he played the mental game the hardest - “how does it feel to know you just dropped the world cup” etc. Steve Waugh was the best captain we have had since 1980 when I started watching.

      Ricky was a great batsman but he has never been a captain like Steve Waugh. His decision to bowl Horrorwitz at the end of THAT test match in India reinforced it. I wasn’t aware of the petty poiltics in the dressing room but now that I am, I am not surprised.

    • Hay-dos says:

      12:17pm | 13/12/10

      I agree….Peter Roebuck can often sound like an idiot.

    • Rob says:

      12:18pm | 13/12/10

      You may well say Roebuck looked foolish but, reading between teh lines,  it would appear that he was right, about 2.5 years before your column today…

    • Grumpy says:

      12:19pm | 13/12/10

      or maybe england is just the better side…

    • Scott says:

      12:19pm | 13/12/10

      what a load of rubbish

      “cricket, a team sport which is really just 11 blokes performing individually in caps of a similar colour.”

      This comment gives away any trace of credibility the author ever held. How can Sharwood, who obviously knows nothing of cricket be in a position to comment RE the Australian captaincy?

    • SM says:

      12:23pm | 13/12/10

      There has never been any point in time when Andrew Symonds has been “our leading Test batsman”

    • hot tub political machine says:

      03:32pm | 13/12/10

      Wholeheartedly agree. There was never time when he didn’t have a couple ahead of him as best batsman in the side. At his best he was on par with Michael Slater - someone who could win a match in a day, but he wasn’t on the same level as Ponting, Hayden and Hussey as consistent great batsmen

    • Richard says:

      12:25pm | 13/12/10

      Ponting is the second greatest contemporary batsmen in the world after Sachin Tendulkar, but that shouldn’t entitle him to hold on to the captaincy for as long as he wants to. Its interesting to note that Tendulkar was himself a failure as Indian captain, not once, but twice: in 1996-1997 and 2000. Stripping Tendulkar of his captaincy was not the end of the world for Indian cricket (far from it lol), nor did it detract from Tendulkar’s role as a senior batsman. It was just apparent to everyone that Tendulkar was not a good captain, just as it is apparent to everyone that Ponting is not a a good captain. Australia’s initial successful period under Ponting captaincy was only due to the fact that Shane Warne was in the side at that time, effectively acting as de facto captain in all but name only.

      Australian cricket is in disastrous shape now: endemic bone-headedness has gone viral. Nathan Hauritz was dropped for the Ashes, and I’ll admit that I was in the chorus that called for his axing (only Warnie and Graeme Swan supported him ironically), but even I know that the purpose of dropping a test player back to Sheffield Shield is for them to re-find their form. 5-37 (at the WACA no less) and a hundred and fifty odd runs to boot is definitely indicative of a return to form, yet he has been overlooked in favour of some guy with four 1st class games experience! The mind boggles at the implied insult to Hauritz that the selectors are giving. Why can’t a team be selected on form and form alone?

    • Richard says:

      02:35pm | 13/12/10

      Hauritz is a victim of Ponting’s vicious megalomania. Ponting took umbrage to the way everyone (led by Warnie) criticised his field placements during the last test in India while Horry was bowling, and what a co-incidence, it now just happens to turn out that was the last game for Australia Hauritz will ever play in (at least while Ricky is in charge).  Disgraceful conduct Ponting, you’re running cricket team not a drug cartel.

    • Ray says:

      12:28pm | 13/12/10

      Steve Waugh had his own little club as well , how else would Gavin Robertson have got a game and a tour, and lets face it he was very ordinary? If North could maintain some form he was an obvious choice, he has a bit of class about him on and off the field.

    • Luke says:

      12:33pm | 13/12/10

      I’m sorry who exactly are we replacing Ponting with as captain? Clarke looks to be the only alternative… and the mainstream media has decided to universally hate him for some reason.

      It’s either Ponting or Clarke, Sharwood.

    • Doug says:

      12:34pm | 13/12/10

      I am a traditionalist which means I expect the Test XI to be the Best XI and I don’t care where you pick them from, including out of retirement or some overseas comp. All the names being bandied around from Warne down are options - you just need the will to do it. A fearsome batting line up 1 thru 7 could be - Hayden, Hughes, Hodge, Hussey, Haddin, Watson and Symonds. Spin bowlers - Hauritz and Warne And why not toss Greg Matthews into the mix as well. Pace and swing options - McGrath, Harris, Hilfenhaus, Lee, Tait. The latter is the biggest concern but frankly, older is better performed and even with Tait a match by match proposition, it packs some sting. Now, either the Ashes mean something or they don’t And if losing to England is something to be opposed with every possible ounce of ability and smarts, combinations like this must be considered. England would do it to us and we’ve played much older players before.  I can’t find a spot for Richie Benaud, but I can find a cracker of a Test XI in 2010-11 outta this field.

    • Greg Hamilton says:

      12:59pm | 13/12/10

      The Sydney Swans introduced the ‘Leading Teams’ model, where the playing group established what was regarded as the ‘team trademark’ - a set of behaviours and standards that the players themselves set. No-one was above reproach - in fact, the captain would be the first to sit within a circle of truth and be critiqued against the ‘team trademark’ with honesty that would require a steel jaw. This process establishes a unique and unified club culture, created by the players, for the players. Other AFL clubs to implement this include Geelong, Adelaide, Hawthorn, St.Kilda and Western Bulldogs. In essence, the team trademark sets the direction, and if you are displaying behaviours that are contrary to that direction, then the playing group will pull you back into line through honesty, which ultimately creates a stronger culture of respect. A rudderless, undisciplined Australian Cricket side could certainly benefit from such a model. No doubt it would have helped Andrew Symonds, and countless other players whose dropping or non-selection have bewildered players and cricket fans alike for years.

    • Terry says:

      01:19pm | 13/12/10

      Its the Brian Lara syndrome——great player but an A grade tool who took his team from the top of world cricket to the bottom!! Get rid of this tool and DO NOT replace him with Clarke or Watson   Maybe White!!!

    • Richard says:

      02:43pm | 13/12/10

      Yep, I whole-heartedly agree. White is a tremendous captain for Victoria, and he has definitely shown what a team under his command can do to the Poms over the last few days.

    • SM says:

      01:52pm | 13/12/10

      I thought Mark Waugh summed things up pretty well on Inside Cricket with Brendon Julian, Damien Fleming, and former England player Gladstone Small the other day, especially the part at the end regarding Michael Clarke on Twitter;

      Brendon Julian: “So where do we go from here, boys? Junior, what do you reckon?”

      Mark Waugh: “Mate, if I was a selector there are at least five, maybe six, of those blokes who’d be looking for something to do next week because they wouldn’t be playing cricket in Perth.”

      Damien Fleming: “Such as?”

      Waugh: “Mate, Doherty for a start. I mean jeez, we’ve picked a bloke because we don’t know who our spinner should be. Should we seriously pick a guy who has played 10 state-level tests in his life to go up againstPietersen, Cook and those guys?”

      Julian: “Bit harsh.”

      Waugh: “Bit harsh? He was chucking that many pies at Pietersen he may as well have opened a bakery on days two and three.”

      Fleming: “North?”

      Waugh: “Gone”

      Julian: “Bollinger? Siddle?”

      Waugh: “Gone”

      Gladstone Small: “Can I interrupt for a minute?”

      Waugh: “No”. 

      Julian: “Junior is on a bit of a roll here, Stone.”

      Waugh: “No, I mean fair go, we’ve got it wrong here. If I’m the only bloke not happy that we’ve been rolled for an innings and 70-odd runs on a runway of a pitch and that, let’s be honest, we’re going to have a summer of the Poms handing us our arses in this series then fair go boys, something’s wrong here. What’s Clarke doing after getting out? He’s on Twitter saying sorry for not walking? Mate, if he did that in our side there’d be hell to pay. AB would chuck his Twitter box off the balcony or whatever it is. Sorry for not walking? Jesus Christ, man.’’

    • Greg says:

      02:33pm | 13/12/10

      Gold. Junior for Chairman of Selectors!

    • Markus says:

      02:46pm | 13/12/10

      I was in tears watching that the first time.
      I especially loved his reference to the Twitter box - 45 years old and already sounding like he’s 70.

      The sad part for Australian cricket is there is not much I can fault in his rant, especially about Clarke. At least during the 70s/80s when Australia weren’t winning consistently they still had some mongrel and killer instinct. Now they seem to be so intent on creating a good impression to opposition teams and fans, when a) A lot of them are going to hate us regardless (old habits and whatnot), and b) Opposition fans aren’t the ones you are supposed to be trying to impress!

    • hot tub political machine says:

      02:10pm | 13/12/10

      Oh and here are my two cents regarding captaincy. Ponting the batsman is not finished – he is the 2nd best Australia has ever had and I would still want him at number 3, but Ponting the Captain is – not necessarily because of playing favourites (I actually think the whole team is responsible for this kind of stuff and has been for a long time – Stuart MacGill was a fantastic bowler who’s career suffered because he was too intelligent to be one of the boys – his major crime was that he like red wine and not beer), not because he can’t inspire, but because he can’t set a field. His best results as Captain have come when he had Warne (probably the best field setter in world cricket) and Lehman (very experienced Sheffield Shield Captain) setting fields for him.

      Some people are angry about the “prima donna/mentally weak” players. Unfortunately, I reckon this is the future. Cricket is a job now – the players will rock up for training, train professionally and then go home and forget cricket exists until the next morning. So rather than select someone who seems to have the most “old school” mentality – just let whoever sets fields best be captain.

      Oh and yes I think its time to go with the youngsters. Who cares if we have a season or two of horrid loses or even slump to massive tonkings. If it means 3-4 years from now we have some good, experienced cricketers in their mid twenties that can play well for the next 10 years its worth it. But don’t go half hearted, pick the 2 or 3 best older players to provide some experience and to mean the youngsters have some pressure of their shoulders, the other 7-8 players should be the best at their role in Aust who are under 25

    • hot tub political machine says:

      02:21pm | 13/12/10

      Oh and and and…

      The spinner we pick should be the one who spins the ball most. Offspinners who throw darts at the bastsmens feat aren’t test players. Pick whoever spins the most - even if they go for huge amounts of runs they at least have the potential to come good.

      Better a big spinning, wild, uncontrolled person who gets the odd wicket from brilliant balls and the odd lucky catch from a full toss than a darter.

    • MudCrab says:

      05:52pm | 13/12/10

      “How else to explain Brad Hodge not playing despite averaging over 50 in tests. Or the Phil Hughes dropping early in the 2009 Ashes”

      Not sure about you kids, but I was always under the impression Hughes, a T20 Wunderkind, had his technique found lacking by quality bowling.

      There is more to test batting then smashing every ball.

    • sandra nelson says:

      06:35pm | 13/12/10

      is ponting still in the team?I thought he had been relegated to club cricket and a rest home.

    • stephen says:

      09:29pm | 13/12/10

      You’re jane wallace, aren’t you ?

    • NicoleG says:

      10:17pm | 13/12/10

      @stephen, yep. And john tracey.

    • john tracey says:

      07:15pm | 13/12/10

      warne should be australian captain.
      ponting is twelfth man material

    • Doc says:

      09:35am | 19/12/10

      Mate you have no idea - get off!

    • john tracey says:

      07:17pm | 13/12/10

      was there any confidence to start with?

    • Scarneck says:

      07:20pm | 13/12/10

      “Blaming the captain for his teammates’ incompetence might seem a ridiculously long bow”…. Sorry Anthony but there isn’t a bow long enough to support that statement.

      Players just don’t blossom under certain captains, to suggest that Haydn and Langer blossomed under Steve Waugh is laughable, there’s a little thing called ability, it’s just possible that since the departure of these two players (along with McGrath, Warne and Gillchrist) we haven’t had anyone with equal ‘ability’ that could fill their shoes so to speak? Ponting can’t work wonders, he’s Human not God.

      Though I can’t help but wonder who’s toes Brad Hodge stood on.

    • john tracey says:

      07:33pm | 13/12/10

      aussie will win the third test at perth

    • AnthonyG says:

      08:46pm | 13/12/10

      Bit harsh on Ponting when you consider he is holding the responsibility of the hole ashes campaign on his shoulders. Yes he is the captain and getting paid a motza but he is fronting the media at any given moment without the support of the coach or anyone else thats in the loop. His form is a little scratchy but he is still our best batsman since Bradman. I think he should relinquish his captaincy and concentrate on returning to be the best batsman in the world.

    • perspective says:

      09:08am | 14/12/10

      India racist or are Australian’s racist… I guess it depends on the perspective.  The Monkey incident happened no doubt, BUT why then has players like Hayden and Symonds been making bucket loads of money over their in the 20/20, endorsements and even TV shows?  Where are all the great crickets stars on the past on our TV?  Look at Ponting he’s getting squat all, because the Indian’s see him as a bad personality, nothing about race, which Symonds and Hayden were deeply involved with.

    • John Brayne says:

      10:18am | 17/12/10

      What a fascinating & interesting perspective in this article. I have ALWAYS wondered why Krejza could get dropped after taking 9 wickets in a test….then get picked again, to get 3, then get dropped again….never to be seen again.  As for Brad Hodge & Phil Hughes….both have a test average above the 50 mark….& yet both get dropped!!!!!! Now we have batsmen who are ALL out of form & the selectors….the coach & the captain have lots to explain.  It would be terrific to see Hughes come good in this series.  The only cricketer who has blossomed under Pontings captaincy is Watson…...who presently is our best player!!!!  Perhaps the coach has some explaining to do too….& nobody seems to mention him!!!

    • Steve says:

      05:26pm | 17/12/10

      If there is a no dickheads policy then can someone explain to me how Peter Siddle and Mitch Johnson keep getting picked?

    • Justin says:

      08:43pm | 17/12/10

      a bit of perspective please… the only Australian batsman with any longevity that has a better average than R Ponting is D Bradman.

    • G says:

      09:49pm | 17/12/10

      lol who’s bashing mitchell johnson today? He is still the most devastating bowler australia has and proved it today

    • Luke says:

      03:20am | 18/12/10

      er um three world cup wns in a row…....can’t be that rubbish…....

    • Gary Bradbury says:

      04:39am | 18/12/10

      Anyone noticed how much more often Ponting has been hit in the Helmet since Langer became batting coach, and lost the ability to get in position for the hook and pull? There has to be any number of guys in grade cricket with better techniques than Hughes, He got lucky at the start of his career but bowlers have worked him out. Clarke is more concerned with being a celebrity than a cricketer and he seems to have lost the ability to concentrate. Maybe Langer has filled his head with too much nonsense. I would make Brad Haddinn Skipper for the next two tests, drop Clarke, Ponting down the order and if he fails he is out. Nothing will matter though, It’s Englands time.

    • Phil says:

      05:19am | 18/12/10

      Mitch Johnson strikes back after all the media rubbishing he got. What about Hussey..all the media cries to drop him prior to the series start. And how about Ponting? A bit difficult for a No.3 batsman to get form when the openers are not doing their job. A No 3 should not be coming out to bat in over No 2 at any time..he should not be out there until the shide is off the all and then doing his work. Ponting will do me for captain..no one else show any promise for the position. he has the from..it will come back.

    • Jack Outfielder says:

      09:06am | 18/12/10

      Lets fire him then and find out - he certainly cant bat for crap lately. No great loss. Lets see if some young guns step up and blossom.
      It cant get any worse…....

    • nick says:

      10:51am | 18/12/10

      well its funny that ponting never speaks to the media when we lose,  its always Hussey lately.  I think Keep Shane Watson, Mike Hussey, and Mitchell Johnson for now. and rebuild the rest of the team.

    • Mattar says:

      08:30pm | 18/12/10

      to Beno, who looks like the complete dickhead now?

    • Truth be known says:

      11:09pm | 18/12/10

      Only a moron would suggest Ponting be dropped, if anyone else was captain you would be in major strife(take Clarke’s record as captain for example), another bad article by an uninformed nobody. Thankyou Ponting for many great years as Australia’s Captain. The second best Australian captain at history if you go by win %. You would think you Aussies would have learned a bit of loyalty after seeing Hayden and Gilly leaving prematurely because of your incessant whining during form slumps. I hope Ponting quits then all you morons will get what you deserve, some incompetent hack like Clarke running the show. Look at the mans stats and what he’s done for Aussie and world Cricket. Proud not to be Australian today.

    • Bob the Angry says:

      01:12am | 19/12/10

      Get rid of Ponting, get rid of Clarke. Why do we retain under performing players indefinitely? That’s our problem.

      Without Hussey and Haddin, we’d be screwed, even more than we already are.

      One wonders about the politics behind closed doors. Why did North get so many goes, what about D. Hussey? Hodge? C. White as a test player? (Am I showing my colours?)

    • John Edwards says:

      08:55pm | 19/12/10

      Get rid of Ponting and that runnless pretender Clark, make Cameron White captain, consistently making runs for Victoria! Prove that a baggy blue cap is not required in order to be given a baggy green cap!

    • Shelly says:

      10:40pm | 19/12/10

      Unless any of us are in Ponting’s shoes, NONE of us have the experience or knowledge to decide who is put in the side and who is taken out. I am sure that Ponting and Cricket Australia spend alot of time trying to figure out who and what to do and I would think it would be very difficult to do. So many talented players but no one can know how any one individual will perform on the day. I think we should all make a stronger effort to go see local matches especially state level to increase crickets popularity and bolster numbers of players at state level. Cricket is only recognised at an international level and that is a huge stage, with rookies on state level barely getting a couple of people to watch their games.

    • David says:

      04:47pm | 26/12/10

      Get rid of ponting its time for this clown to go.

    • BobbyDan says:

      06:14am | 27/12/10

      Well, he has proved his worth to Australian Cricket.
      Boxing Day at the MCG in front of 80,000+, he proved what a waste of space he is.

 

Facebook Recommendations

Read all about it

Punch live

Up to the minute Twitter chatter

Recent posts

The latest and greatest

The Punch is moving house

The Punch is moving house

Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…

Will Pope Francis have the vision to tackle this?

Will Pope Francis have the vision to tackle this?

I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…

Advocating risk management is not “victim blaming”

Advocating risk management is not “victim blaming”

In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…

Nosebleed Section

choice ringside rantings

From: Hasbro, go straight to gaol, do not pass go

Tim says:

They should update other things in the game too. Instead of a get out of jail free card, they should have a Dodgy Lawyer card that not only gets you out of jail straight away but also gives you a fat payout in compensation for daring to arrest you in the first place. Instead of getting a hotel when you… [read more]

From: A guide to summer festivals especially if you wouldn’t go

Kel says:

If you want a festival for older people or for families alike, get amongst the respectable punters at Bluesfest. A truly amazing festival experience to be had of ALL AGES. And all the young "festivalgoers" usually write themselves off on the first night, only to never hear from them again the rest of… [read more]

Gentle jabs to the ribs

Superman needs saving

Superman needs saving

Can somebody please save Superman? He seems to be going through a bit of a crisis. Eighteen months ago,… Read more

28 comments

Newsletter

Read all about it

Sign up to the free News.com.au newsletter