Tag Archives: Ponting

The Australians are here…

The mind games have begun.

Mitchell Johnson wants to play chin music and Ricky Ponting thinks Indians are suspect against bounce! In particular, Mitchell Johnson thinks that Virender Sehwag is suspect against the short ball. Either the Australian ideas-chest is bare or they are actually planning on bowling a bagful of yorkers, but throwing a few red-herrings around so that the Indians get confused! Do the Australians think they are going to be bowling at a few school-kids? Oh, and meanwhile, Nathan Hauritz says he is going to target Sachin Tendulkar. Great. Now we can all sleep easy, for he is not going to target Ishant Sharma, India’s secret batting weapon! Phew!

So clearly the Australians must be in town! There’s a lot of talk; a lot of pre-game chirp…

And what are the Indians doing? They are quietly practicing ahead of an important series. And some of them have been involved in the Champions League T20. Is MS Dhoni saying much at all? Yes he is saying, “Well, of course it is Tuesday today” and “Well of course, my name is Dhoni” and “Well of course, cricket is a game played with bat and ball”. This lad is straight from the “say a lot and yet say nothing” school of communications!

The chirp is back in town and in our troubled times of spot fixing and T20, cricket cannot have wanted a tough and engaging Test series more than right now.

To be honest though, the pre-series-chirp from the Australian camp has not been as viral and feral as it has been in previous tours. I remember Ricky Ponting talking about “New Age” cricket ahead of the last series in India in 2008. They left India thinking they ought to sharpen up their “present age” cricket before even thinking of moving onto the “new age”!

The chirp and pre-series mind-games are of a different tone this time around. And I think the IPL has a lot to do with it. I also think that now, more than ever, Australia believes other teams can play cricket too. There is respect and there is definitely a greater understanding.

This will make this series a cracker of a series, in my view.

In the times of Hayden, Langer, Ponting, Waughs, Gilchrist, Warne and McGrath, the fact that teams would lose to the #1 placed Australia was always a given. The question was more one of how badly teams would lose to Australia, the then world champions.

India, as the #1 ranked team, do not have that air of invincibility about them. Although Ricky Ponting conceded that India deserved her #1 ranking, I think he was being unusually coy, somewhat needlessly diplomatic and rather polite. I still maintain that unless India wins a series in Australia and South Africa, in my view, India cannot be ranked as the #1 team in the world. Australia, by the way, has won a series in India.

India lacks that air of invincibility because of her bowling. India just does not have a McGrath-Warne. Yes. Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan are good. They are better in Indian conditions. But they are not in the same class as a McGrath or a Warne. In my opinion, as a result of that lopsided strength (when compared to her batting) Team India is still in development phase.

Pity! Because the batting has never been better!

I say the batting has never been better because the opening combination (despite Gautam Gambhir’s recent “dip” in form) is lethal. Sehwag looks menacing each time he goes out to bat. With a steady Gambhir at the other end, this is the opening combination in world cricket today. Rahul Dravid is… well… Rahul Dravid. Not a single brick in that wall has had to be replaced over the years. Sachin Tendulkar is looking hungrier this year than he did last year and he was quite mean last year! VVS Laxman is in the midst of one of his best (batting) years in Test cricket! Suresh Raina has stepped into the #6 role as though it was meant for him. Raina demonstrates a hunger as well as a “continual willingness to learn” (in Sunil Gavaskar’s words). I do believe he will make a solid and strong #6 for India. And if all of that is not sufficient, India has MS Dhoni in at #7. This batting list is not only impressive, it is formidable. If one or two of the above gets injured, the replacements are M. Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara — and these lads can hold a bat!

The Australian bowling will have to be at its very best to shake that batting line-up.

So, in these times, the lopsidedness (in terms of bowling-strength) is, indeed, a pity for a fan of Team India. It is no wonder that the team lacks that air of invincibility that is thrust upon champion teams.

So any team — and in particular, Australia — does have a chance, in my view. The door is ajar.

That said, I think Australia will need to play exceedingly well.

I might be wrong, but I think this series will claim Nathan Hauritz like it did Shane Warne, Jason Krejza and Gavin Robertson. There is a fixation that Australian cricket has with off-spinners whenever they tour India. Even at the height of the Shane Warne express, the Australians brought Gavin Robertson along with them! He played a few games too. I think Australia has got it wrong. In recent times, India has demonstrated a particular inexplicable weakness against left-arm spinners. Even Ashley Giles and Paul Harris did well against India! The fact that Australia does not have a good left-arm spinner is another story altogether. But my view is that, unless Nathan Hauritz bowls out of his skin, or unless the Indian batsmen commit hara-kiri against him, Hauritz will have a nightmare-series. In my view, Michael Clarke has to bowl much more than he did in the last series. Whether his back will allow him that luxury is quite another issue altogether.

The real weak-link in the India team is the bowling. I believe that Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha will play the 1st Test. There is a chance that Sreesanth will play ahead of Ojha, given that the first Test is going to be played at Mohali — a track known for its even bounce and carry.

However, I think India should shave all grass off the Mohali track and chuck Harbhajan and Ohja at the Australians. A view that I have held for long is that the day Perth becomes a spinning track, India can prepare a bouncing green-top for the visiting Australians.

The Australian batting is good without being sensational. What the team lacks in runs and experience, it (always) makes up in discipline, determination, application and preparation. Shane Watson and Simon Katich hold the key to this series in my view. If Ricky Ponting walks in with the scoreboard reading 191-1, I think the Australians will have a terrific series. If he routinely walks in at 12-1, he will probably perform worse in this series than he has in past tours to India.

Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid have proved, time and time again, that they deserve to be amongst the worlds’ greatest batsmen (like Brian Lara, Viv Richards and Sunil Gavaskar before them) because they have made runs in all conditions. Ricky Ponting’s CV in Indian conditions represents a big hole occupied smugly by Harbhajan Singh!

Unless Ricky Ponting does well in Indian conditions, he will certainly not feature in my list of best batsmen in the world! Time is running out for this excellent cricketer to make the walk from being excellent to great. This is probably his last chance to take that walk. He will have a greater chance to make that walk if Shane Watson and Simon Katich give him (and Australia) a good start.

Michael Hussey had a relatively poor series last time around. He is too good a player to have two poor series in India. To me, apart from the openers, Michael Hussey is the key.

The Australian bowling sports a similar kind of look to it. The presence of Shane Watson as a batsman and a 5th bowler adds sensational dimension to the team. That and the presence Micheal Clarke as a left-arm bowler means that this bowling line-up should do much better than previous bowling attacks have! The fact, however, is that this attack has presided over the worst period in Australia’s recent cricketing history.

So, what is the conclusion? I am going to have to sound like Dhoni here (sentence spoken without a stop for breath)… “Well of course, each day is a new day the past is the past and the team that plays best on the day will win and well of course the boys are raring to go and are really keyed up for this important series and well of course Australia is a terrific team and they keep coming at you like a steam train and well of course we have to stay alert at all times and play our best cricket and well of course the team that plays the best cricket on the day will win!”

The sledge is back in town. There is a chirp in the air. There is some excitement.

The Australians are here? Well of course…

— Mohan

Advertisements

Ponting flounders while Harbhajan Singh is at it again…

Harbhajan Singh and Australia have a history.

It was Harbhajan Singh’s hattrick in Kolkata — which came before VVS Laxman’s 281 — that started the self-belief ride in that epic series between these two sides in 2001. Lest we forget, he hit the winning runs in that nail-biting and tense finish to the Chennai Test, which gave India the series victory in that 2001 series.

In 2007, it was his brilliance with the bat in the company of Sachin Tendulkar, and the later “Maan Ki” episode in Sydney that seemed to spur a somewhat insipid and weak Indian team that had capitulated in Melbourne. The team went on to record a phenomenal victory in Perth in another epic encounter between these two sides.

In 2008, India was down and almost out in Bangalore in the 1st Test of another epic series between the teams. Again, it was Harbhajan Singh (in the company of an unlikely hero in Zaheer Khan) who turned things around for India with the bat. It may have been almost impossible to conceieve an Indian series victory if India had lost in Bangalore and had the momentum shifted to Australia — although one never knows what may have happened, of course. However, that was a momentum changing innings from a man how loves to irritate the Australians.

Such moments can sometimes define a series — like Monty Panesar’s stubborn resistance did, at Cardiff, a few months back!

And much as Steve Waugh, that master of “mental disintegration”, allowed himself to be irritated by Sourav Ganguly’s “toss tactics”, the Australians — including their press — instead of ignoring Harbhajan Singh, fall prey to his antics every time.

In Vadodara, in the first match of the current 7-ODI series, India were almost down and out chasing a not-so-large total. A huge loss would have shifted the momentum completely Australia’s way. Instead we had a cheeky, pugnacious and gritty fight back from that man Harbhajan Singh (in the company of Praveen Kumar) that almost got India a victory!

I have no doubt that that innings changed the way India approached the 2nd match in Nagpur. Although some may point to a depleted Australian bowling attack, I do believe that India would have won even if Brett Lee had played. India played with purpose and determination not often seen by an up-and-down team.

One hopes that this momentum is taken into the remaining games too. However, much as I do not like his antics, one just cannot get over the fact that Harbhajan Singh rises to the occasion everytime he plays against Australia. They say that a great player is one that performs at his best against the best. Perhaps it is time for us to recognise — maybe even reluctantly — that Harbhajan Singh is up there after all?

In ODIs he has a batting average of 16.56 against Australia, when compared to a career average of 13.42, although his bowling stats against Australia is worse than his career average! His highest score while batting in ODIs is against Australia (the 49 he made last week at Vadodara). In Tests, his batting average against Australia is 21.83 when compared to a career average of 17.01. He bowls better against Australia too — 79 wickets at 28.82 as opposed to 300 career wickets at 30.42! His career high Test score of 66 is just 3 higher than his highest score against Australia (the 63 that he made in that “Maan Ki” Test in Sydney). His best Test bowling figures (8 for 84) is against Australia too — in that epic Test match in Chennai in 2001.

It is clear that Harbhajan Singh turns it on whenever he plays against Australia. More power to him.

If India play on the momentum secured thus far and if the team continues to show the passion and the focus that was on display in the 2nd ODI at Nagpur, I think it will be hard for Australia to come back into the series.

And for Australia to bounce back, skin will be important!

Yes! Someone from the Australian team must play out-of-their-skin cricket and the team must not allow Harbhajan Singh to get under their collective skins!

Ricky Ponting said yesterday that he is not a believer in momentum. He said, “I am not a big believer of momentum from game to game. Momentum is all that’s happening in a particular game. I don’t think much of it carries from game to game. I think many of the games that I have played in the past have changed too quickly to be attributed to momentum.”

I am now convinced that, unlike his efforts with the bat, Ricky Ponting is inconsistent with his mouth!

Here is a sample of what Ponting has said (or reported to have said) just in the last few months!

According to Mike Hussey (and he must be a dependable man as well as a reliable source), “Ricky’s been on our hammer already basically about trying to maintain our momentum.” He continued, “Momentum is not something you can turn on and off like a switch. If we can finish this series strongly, that will give us some good impetus going into the Champions Trophy…”

This was precisely 45 days ago. So what’s changed in the intervening period for Ricky Ponting to discard his “momentum theory”?

And some two and a half months back, after Australia’s win at Headingley against England, Ponting declared “The momentum [is] with us”. He went on to say, ”We all get asked about [momentum] after every game, especially in these series that seem to see-saw and swing from one side to the other. For me, the momentum thing is what your individual players get out of the game. There’s not many of our individuals who haven’t taken a lot in this game.”

And at the start of the ongoing series against India, Ponting’s utterances may have led the uninitiated to believe that the Asutralian captain does believe in momentum!

It seems to me that what he has said in the above examples is that he believed in “momentum”. He now does not. Oh well. One theory when you win. One when you lose, I guess?

Despite the newly-laid Delhi track which saw 4 sub-100 scores in the Champions League, I expect India to field an unchanged side.

Australia have to make changes to the side. Tim Paine is back in Australia. Graham Manou is in. This will mean that Shane Watson and Shaun Marsh open the batting. I am not convinced that Cameron White is an appropriate player at #4. But there is something common about Cameron White, Australia and bad choices! Remember the Tests against India in India last year? I have no idea why Cameron White was in that Test side. I am not sure what he is doing batting at #4 in this ODI side. Maybe he will prove me wrong though. Who knows? It is likely that Moises Henriques will get his ODI cap in the Delhi game. He is the sort of bowler that may perform well on the Delhi track.

I will not be surprised if Australia wins the Delhi match. This Ricky Ponting led team is strong and will fight every inch of the way.

And if Australia does win, expect Ponting to say that he was happy to have “reclaimed the momentum”!

— Mohan

Ricky Ponting…

It is inevitable that several odes will be written for Ricky Ponting in the face of Australia’s free-fall to 4 in the ICC Rankings — a free fall that Ricky Ponting has overseen.

This piece below is from a regular reader Krishna Warrier.

I respect Ricky Ponting’s cricketing achievements.

  • Despite the nightclub brawls he got into as a young cricketer and an impressionable young man.
  • Despite the dubious distinction he has now acquired of becoming the first Australian captain to travel to England twice with the Ashes and return without them.
  • Despite the chequered legacy he has as captain after inheriting the crown from greats like Allan Border, Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh, each of whom went on to be honoured as Australian of the Year.
  • Despite his impressive achievements as captain of Australia.
  • Despite his mediocre record as a batsman in India, with an unforgettable hat-trick of ducks in the epic 2001 series.
  • Despite the fact that he is probably the only batsman in world cricket today who looks likely to overtake Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 42 Test centuries (not to mention run aggregate).

But I don’t like the man.

Because, every time fate presented him an opportunity to flirt with greatness, he disdainfully blew it away. Sydney 2008, where the cricketing world questioned his integrity, is just one example.

Tenacity and pugnacity are virtues a cricketer should be proud to possess. Provided he imbibes the spirit of the game, along with the laws that govern it.

— Krishna Warrier

Groundhog day

These events seem to be happening – again…and again…and again! Like Groundhog day…

-Mahesh-

Of Brains, Hair, Selectorial Leaks and Third Worlds

While Australia returned to their winning ways in the comfort of their home conditions and as India continued to mount an impressive ODI campaign against the visiting English team that is in a bit of a disarray at the moment, the usual suspects have been at it again this week.

  • Sunil Gavaskar and Ricky Ponting have continued their public spats.
  • Ricky Ponting continued his petulant wars with Ian Chappell and Alan Border.
  • The BCCI has another selection room leak to contend with.
  • Matthew Hayden continued his Third World campaign even as the sight-screen froze at The Gabba!

Ponting Vs Gavaskar, Chappell, Border, A. N. Other:

It looks like the public spat between Ricky Ponting and virtually anyone within spitting distance of the Australian captain has now consumed Sunil Gavaskar as a somewhat willing participant! It all started when Ponting was criticised by virtually everyone on his captaincy in India during the recently concluded Test series, which India won 2-0. In the Nagpur Test Ponting employed his part-time bowlers in a bid to save himself (first and then, his team) from incurring the wrath of the ICC Match Referee. It was a move that potentially cost Australia the match, the series and the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Former Australian captains, Ian Chappell, Alan Border and Steve Waugh condemned the decision immediately.

Instead of offering a philosophical shrug and accepting the criticism, Ponting — as is his wont in recent times– went into overdrive in defending his actions. He even said at a luncheon in Brisbane that he had no intention of speaking to the former Australian greats for a while yet! These were classic signs of an Australian captain who seemed to have lost the plot.

As if all of that wasn’t bizarre enough, Ponting then took aim and fired in the direction of Sunil Gavaskar through the release of a section of his book in which he criticises Gavaskar, a consistent critic of the Australian team’s on-field behaviour! Ponting aimed his gun at Gavaskar, saying that the former Indian great was no angel in his playing days! For substantiation of the argument, Ponting alluded to Gavaskar attempting to stage a walk out at the MCG in 1981!

Three things come immediately to mind! (a) What has the “walk out” in 1981 got to do with Australian team behaviour in 2008? (b) Wasn’t Gavaskar’s walk out in 1981 in protest against Australian behaviour on the field, thereby substantiating Gavaskar’s argument, and not Ponting’s? (c) What has the “walk out” got to do with the price of fish anyway?

Sunil Gavaskar needs no invitation to fight. He picked up his boxing gloves. But instead of saying that Ponting’s allusion to the 1981 “walk out” merely substantiated his own argument, Gavaskar lashed out some more on Thursday 20 Nov, saying “Ponting was just seven-year-old when MCG incident happened. He does not know the background”.

As if that wasn’t enough puerile behaviour for one week, in today’s Sunday Times of India, Gavaskar has said “Ponting’s hair has grown, not his intelligence” (I can’t find an online link to this story, but will like as soon as it appears on the ToI site)! This makes reference to the sudden (re)growth of Ponting’s mop. In his vitriolic diatribe against Ponting, Gavaskar drops a pearl in a line that makes me sigh in despair. He says, “The Australians have gone home with their tail between their legs, like most dogs that bark and do not bite when confronted with another who stands up and does not run away.” Sigh!

Selection-room discussions:

The biggest story in India right now is the selection room gut-spill. The India team for the Bangalore and Cuttack ODIs against England included Irfan Pathan and Sachin Tendulkar for R. P. Singh and Murali Vijay. The selectors declared their intent, upon being chosen, that they wanted to focus on the nurturing of all-rounders. So despite his patchy bowling form, the selection of Irfan Pathan was consistent with that approach. All good, one would have thought!

But no. In a move that only the BCCI and its machinery can match, a selection committee leak to the Kolkata based ‘Anand Bazar Patrika’ revealed that India captain, M. S. Dhoni disagreed with the selectors.

If I were the BCCI, I’d identify who this idiot was that leaked discussions held in a committee and publicly flog him.

This leak does not serve anyone’s interests. The BCCI’s interests have been compromised. Dhoni’s interests have been compromised. As Dhoni himself said, “This is the pinnacle of the sport. We are selecting 15 guys for the Indian team. There will be debates inside, and that information should not be put out in the media. If it is meant to come out, then I can say we might as well have the whole meeting telecast live on television. Nobody knows what was discussed except the eight guys in the meeting. And only they know whether it’s the truth or not.”

I totally agree here. Indeed, I think that such debate and argument is healthy. I certainly hope that we do not have a robot that goes into a meeting, nods his head at the “respected elders” sitting there and comes out of the meeting with a team sheet.

It is alleged that Dhoni said, “Sir Caaptani bhi dete ho aur baat bhi nahin sunte. To caaptani ka kya faayda?” (“Sir you’ve made me captain, but do not wish to listen to me? So what’s the use of this captaincy?”)

Fair point.

Note that he hasn’t actually said, “If you do not back R. P. Singh, I will resign”, as has been commonly reported by the “braying mediocrity” (the press) here, in India. It is more of a rhetorical question and I think it is a fair question to ask in the context of a selection debate.

Debates at the selection table are what they should be: debates at the selection table. In this instance, Dhoni lost the debate and that’s fine too. He should have copped it on the chin and moved on.

He did!

After the meeting Dhoni said, “This is a selection thing and personally I don’t discuss anything outside. To some extent it does distract us. The good part is that we trust each other – every player in the team trusts the other.”

However, Kris Srikkanth and his team have much to answer in this sordid saga. I hope Srikkanth does not push the dust under the carpet. For the sake of his own integrity and the integrity of his selection committee, I do wish he hounds down the selector that leaked this to the press and gives him a sound thrashing.

The leak has put Dhoni in the invidious position of having to have conversations with R. P. Singh and Irfan Pathan. As Dhoni himself said, “There might be a scenario where all of a sudden we might want to get in touch with RP Singh and Irfan Pathan. And you don’t want RP to feel that I will go out of the way and stand and defend him and Irfan should not feel I don’t want him in the team. I will stand and defend both these players and both of them trust me. My talks with them went off well.”

While I do agree with Anand Vasu, one of the saner voices in Indian cricket media, when he says in the Hindstan Times, “What this incident does is vitiate the atmosphere in the dressing-room,” I do not agree with him when he says “There’s no need to name names, no need for the BCCI to investigate.”

Sorry. I do not agree. The integrity of the selection process has been violated. It is time that the BCCI draws a line in the sand, pulled up the culprit and hangs him out to dry. But I really can’t expect that from the BCCI.

What shocked me, however, was the reaction of a journalist like Bobilli Vijay Kumar, who, in an article in The Times of India, supports the leak wholeheartedly. In an article that sports the tone of a king crab in a lid-less container shipment of Indian crabs, Vijay Kumar hopes that “Dhoni has learnt his lesson: yes, there are no secrets in Indian cricket; no meeting, however sacrosanct it might appear, remains confidential for ever. Every word, especially one that has the contours of a controversy, will sooner or earlier end up as part of a headline.”

And some people wonder why we, at i3j3Cricket, have termed the Indian cricket media, the “braying mediocrity of Indian cricket”?

G. Rajaraman, another sane voice amidst the cacophony (the man who got is credited with enlisting that powerful quote from Kumble after the Sydney Test), offers a solution. He says: “I believe that much of the speculation would have been stifled had BCCI let Srikkanth speak for the Selectors and offer some insight into the changes. It is important for the media and the cricket fans – stakeholders of the game, after all – to understand the thinking behind such changes rather than be left to grapple for understanding on their own.”

I agree with Rajaraman. Much of the speculation arises from having people like Niranjan Shah (in the past) and G. Srinivasan (currently) front up to offer selection explanations to the key stakeholders in the game — the fans and media. That should be left to the chairman of selectors — in this case the loquacious, never-shy-in-front-of-a-microphone, I-can-speak-faster-than-I-can-think Kris Srikkanth!

This episode is not about whether R. P. Singh would have been a better choice. Nor is it about interpreting Dhoni’s words as a resignation threat. As I have said, in the context of a selection meeting, those words make perfect sense to me. I certainly do not interpret those words as a resignation threat! However, this episode is about resurrecting the integrity of the Team India selection committee. Its integrity has been shot and a proper investigation needs to be conducted. A message needs to be sent.

I do hope the BCCI has learnt its lesson. But before that, the BCCI has an important task on hand. It needs to start weeding itself of unprofessional thugs, and in my view, the rascal responsible for that leak is indeed, nothing more than an unprofessional thug.

Hayden, sight-screens and the Third World:

Matthew Hayden, started the week off by complaining about sight screens in Third World India. His comments led to much consternation, disbelief and hurt! Amidst the continual shaking of utterly dismayed heads in India, the key message that Hayden wanted to convey was, once again, lost!

I do agree with Hayden at a general level. There are many things that happen in India that make me roll my eyes, shake my head and leave me with no option but to say, “Only in India”! For example, the other day Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, walked into a game being played at Rajkot. He proceeded to sit himself down on a chair right beside the sight screen. His entourage of nearly 100 people (it seemed) circled all around him. Several of them spilled onto the sight screen area! Play was held up for nearly 5 minutes while this mess was sorted out. Surely, Narendra Modi could have been seated at some other part of the ground where play need not have been held up thus!

But then, as he often does, Hayden had the political acumen of a mosquito flying headlong into an oncoming Mortien spray burst! He should have perhaps even used the more politically conscious “developing” instead of “Third World”, especially since he professed his deep love for India and her people.

But then, as Peter Lalor says, somewhat apologetically, after there were several stoppages in the recently concluded ‘Gabba Test match, “karma [had] a way of sinking its frustrating teeth into [Hayden’s] behind”.

— Mohan

They were busy writing books…

The Harbhajan Singh interview… with Harish Kotian @ Rediff.

This interview is 3 days old. I thought I’d wait for some of our own post-series comments to die down before posting this on our blog. Most of you would have seen it, but for those that haven’t it is certainly worth a read!

Two spicy comments that would have most Team India fans in splits:

“I think [the Australians] were busy writing for their books, while we were busy preparing for the [Border-Gavaskar] series.”

and

I think, actually, [Greg Chappell in their dressing room] inspired us. Seeing [Greg Chappell] in their dressing room fired us. Whatever tactics he knew about our team didn’t work at all. In fact, I think he helped us more than he helped them. I think they came too early and must have gone through a lot under him.

These are right up there with “He hasn’t batted long enough against me, so I don’t know,” which Harbhajan Singh said in December 2007 when he was asked what his advantage was over Ponting!

— Mohan

Ponting’s decision

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.

Selfish decision?

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.

-Mahesh-