What Rudd can learn from Ricky Ponting
Sometimes, you’d swear a higher power was trying to tell us all something. Not that the universe would trouble itself over anything as trivial as Australian politics, but all the same.
On the weekend, former Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting was brought back as a fill-in for the injured Michael Clarke. Ponting proceeded to do his customary lousy job, and was duly punted for good. Could the message be any clearer? Do we really need to spell this thing out?
The Ponting return was a screaming reminder for Kevin Rudd to stay the hell clear of a leadership challenge. Second stints don’t work. As the American novelist Thomas Wolfe once nearly wrote: “You Can’t Go Home to the Lodge Again”.
Fact is, just as we would have done nearly anything to avoid seeing Ponting spit on his hands and rub them together (bleah!), the nation has had enough of Kevin ‘07 and his cutesy, put-on little Ruddisms.
The sauce bottle sucks. We’re through with “due season”. Even if Rudd swears black and blue that he’s a different man since he swore black and blue on that leaked video, nobody believes his leadership will be any different this time.
Nothing’s ever different second time around. Look at Ricky Ponting on the weekend. Overlook for a moment Australia’s handsome win over India on Sunday night which was set up by excellent batting by everyone bar Ponting himself.
Focus instead on Ponting’s performance in the field as skipper against Sri Lanka on Friday. Defending a paltry total of 158, with his seamers being smacked all over the park, Ponting waited until there were 100 runs on the board to try his spinner Xavier Doherty.
Doherty proved to be largely ineffectual, but Ponting waited far too long to find out. He only tried to adapt when the match was already lost. Time and time again, this has been the hallmark of his captaincy. Unintuitive, formulaic and slow to react.
Ponting’s captaincy flaws have been all the more apparent in a summer when Michael Clarke has put on a captaincy masterclass. Here the analogy momentarily breaks down, because Gillard is clearly no Clarke.
But without or without a decent leader to measure him against, Rudd still stacks up poorly. Tell us, True Believers. What would Rudd do differently if granted a second residency at The Lodge?
Really, though. Will he find a stash of magic consensus juice in one of those giant Gatorade bottles they use at the cricket, and become a man of compromise?
Will he learn to delegate and stop crossing other people’s t’s and dotting their i’s? Will he stop expecting his close staffers to work around the clock? Will he sit down and develop policy in a manner which might be termed strategic rather than from-the-hip? Will he magically morph the carbon tax back into the ETS he originally wanted before he kinda just wimped out on the deal?
The obvious answer is: none of the above. Rudd is cooked. Like Ricky Ponting, he is yesterday’s leader, and yesterday’s not very good one at that.
People are always saying cricket captain and PM are the two most important jobs in the land, and if Kev can’t take the hint from this weekend’s events, well, that’s just another sign of how unfit he is to lead.
Oh, and speaking of subtle messages the universe is sending, did you hear about the Swedish guy they just found half-dead in a snowbound car?
Iced Vovos, iced Volvos… either way, this stuff ends badly. The question is, is Rudd smart enough to heed the signs?
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