Thursday, 14 October 2010

Ricky Cracking Up?

Australia have lost the final test to India, and have lost the series 2-0. Ricky Ponting has never won a test as captain in India. He's also the only Australian captain in recent memory to have lost an Ashes series (and he's lost two of 'em). While his batting is regarded as being amongst the best in the current era, his captaincy hasn't been so well received.

Yesterday, Ricky watched as his Australian side pissed the match away, losing heavily to a spirited India side. And like all struggling captains, there was obviously criticism. As he watched Australia's new premier spinner Nathan Hauritz toil away ineffectively, Shane Warne felt compelled to have a go on Twitter at his former skipper: "How the hell can Hauritz bowl to this field?? Feeling for Hauritz, terrible!! What are these tactics? Sorry Ricky but what are you doing?". Not sounding good for Ricky.

However, as we often see with football managers who've had success, but their time in charge is coming to an end; the blamed party fails to take responsibility, pushing blame anywhere, and directly attacking the accuser. In his post match reply, Ponting countered that "Every field that Nathan's had to bowl with since he's been here is at his request, it's the fields that he wants to bowl to... unfortunately it doesn't appear that Shane would take the time to ask anyone about that."

This post isn't about Hauritz's field settings; it's about Ricky Ponting's captaincy. Ricky took over the test captaincy in 2004; a time where Australia were the dominant side in world cricket. Apart from an Ashes loss in 2005, his early years as captain were very successful. But to be honest, most captains would do well when the options are to throw the ball to Warne, McGrath or Lee. But since the retirements of the greats, direct questions have started to be asked about Ponting's captaincy. The failure to drop out of form batsmen and blood new talent, the lack of trust in new bowlers, the poor field settings... and the loss of series that Australia were favourites to win. While the football cliché that he's "lost the dressing room" hasn't been used yet, it might not be far off.

After giving Michael Clarke T20 duties on a full-time role, it would seem Ricky is slowly easing himself out of captaining Australia. He's been captain in one form or another since 2003 - a very long time in international cricket. Ricky may be feeling the pressure; and if another Ashes series is lost, his time at the top may be over.

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