I have said it before and I’ll say it again: Ponting is highly over rated as a captain. Great batsman? Yes. But great captain? No way! His lack of captaincy skills has been masked by the performance of a very very good team with the likes of Warne and McGrath and now that some of these players are gone, the lack of skills in this department are showing up. You can wave all the statistics (48 tests, 33 wins, 6 losses) you’ve got, but it will take more than that to convince me. With the kind of team Australia has had, even my grand mum, who had no knowledge of cricket, could have captained them and won matches – no big deal really.
Anyways, let us leave the discussion of whether he is a good captain or not alone and move to the current issue on why Ponting did not bowl his main bowlers when Australia had India on the ropes on the 4th day of the final test after Tea.
Many former captains, players and writers have said that the decision to persist with part-time bowlers was wrong. But Ponting adamantly refuses to admit that.
“I would do it all again”
Bowling part time bowlers for whatever reason was a wrong decision – make no mistake of that. One could argue that India could have still got off the hook with the best bowlers bowling, but just look at the way the Indians were playing before Tea and how they were bowled out soon after Watson was brought back into the attack and you have my answer to that argument.
Ponting did make a mistake and although a lot of his mates have come out in support of him, they have remained quiet on whether it was the right decision or not.
Shane Warne, does speak his mind though. In his column for the Herald Sun, he says –
RICKY Ponting made elementary captaincy mistakes in India and put himself ahead of the Australian team
Warne further goes on to say that Ponting always admits his mistakes. But as far as I can remember, Ponting has had trouble admitting mistakes and it is no different on this occasion. If you remember the Sydney test, he kept repeatedly saying that whatever he did in that game was right. It didn’t matter what everyone else said or wrote. His response pretty much sounded like a "I am right, you are wrong". He is taking the same stance now. It not only reeks of arrogance, but it means he will repeat the same mistakes again – maybe even to prove a point. Ponting has now gone on print saying that he would indeed do it all again.
Ponting also goes on to claim that the decision had nothing to do with a looming one match suspension if the over rate was short, but to uphold the spirit of the game.
What the !?
This is what Ponting has said –
If you get outside that and get nine and 10 overs down, it’s borderline not playing within the spirit of the game
Seriously, how is he able to keep a straight face and actually say that? Where was the spirit when the Sydney test was being played? The spirit is not a ghost that has suddenly made an appearance on the 4th day evening, is it?
Neilson has this to say in his blog–
Ricky had to take a number of things into consideration, and having the prospect of a suspension for slow over rate hanging over his head was only part of it
He then goes on to talk about he spirit of the game…At least this time the two agree. When the Bret Lee – Ponting spat come to light, the two gave different reasons on why Lee wasn’t given a bowl.
Whatever the two say, I find it really really hard to believe that Australia decided to let the Indians off the hook because they thought the game was more important than the win and that they seriously thought that being a few overs short would undermine the spirit of the game. Sorry, I just don’t buy into this argument.
Ponting took the decision that being suspended was not an option. Even if it let India off the hook.
Ponting as a captain should have taken one for the team. After all, the overrate was slow and it is eventually the captains fault – he should have been prepared to take the blame and wear a one match suspension if it was handed down. At least his team would have still been in the reckoning to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
(Moving on a tangent, the decision that Ponting took was so bad that if a team like Pakistan had done something similar, there would be cries of Match fixing and calls for an ICC investigation. Think about that…)
Sacking Ponting not the answer
Sacking Ponting as captain is not the answer, though. He may not be the best captain Australia has had, but he is still the best person to lead the team – for now, anyway. However, it is time he came off from his high horse, explained the real reasons – right or wrong, accept it as a mistake and move on.