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Right time to go for brilliant Ponting

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Oliver Brett | 12:10 UK time, Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Unaccustomed to dealing with a crisis, Australia's selectors were not prepared to make the obvious call themselves, at least not for a while longer.

The nation's cricket fans had stomached a third Ashes defeat in the last four Test series against England, followed, barely two months later, by a quarter-final World Cup exit.

The man at the helm for all of those painful losses was Ricky Ponting. He had to go, but while the selectors pondered a while longer, he pre-empted their deliberations with a not unexpected resignation.

For a man whose stubbornness was such a powerful aspect of everything he did - both his greatest virtue and also one of his least palatable qualities - it must have been hard.

Ricky Ponting at the conference to announce his resignation at the Sydney Cricket Ground

Ponting at the conference to announce his resignation at the Sydney Cricket Ground (Getty)

But Ponting, whose prowess as a batsman was only fortified by the burden of captaincy when he first took charge of Australia's one-day side in February 2002, has left at the right time.

Australian ex-cricketers certainly felt that way. Tom Moody, who played with Ponting in the successful 1999 World Cup campaign, said: "Punter's the type of guy who's realistic. He's a very proud man but it's time for Australia to move on."

And Mark Waugh, whose career also overlapped Ponting's, added: "I think the timing is pretty good. I think the Australia team needs some fresh ideas."

I was in the crowd at Headingley in July 1997 when Ponting, then just 22, hit his first Test century, helping rescue the Aussies from a perilous position in a mammoth stand with Matthew Elliott.

Scored under intense pressure - he had missed the previous eight Tests after being dropped somewhat harsly - Ponting's was a chanceless innings. The sure footwork that he demonstrated as he drove and pulled England's bowlers would become a hallmark of his game.

Senior figures in Australian cricket must have seen something about him they liked, especially as they stood by him when he went off the rails 18 months later.

A punch-up outside a Sydney bar landed him with a black eye and newspapers carried the photo. A fine, plus a three-match ban inevitably followed. It was not easy for a boy from a tough, working-class corner of Tasmania to make the dramatic rise as one of the country's most recognisable sportsmen - by then he had also played in the World Cup-winning side of 1999 - without some collateral damage.

Ponting admitted to a drinking problem and the Australian Cricket Board, as it was then called, sought to put him back on the straight and narrow.

So successful was his progress that he was soon back in the frame as a possible captaincy contender, a path that opened up for him when Shane Warne lost the vice-captaincy after allegedly bombarding a British nurse with explicit text messages.

When the selectors looked for a fresh leader for the one-day side to replace Steve Waugh, they noted Ponting's increased maturity, brought in part through his engagement to long-term girlfriend Rianna Cantor, a law student. And it was Ponting they turned to.

Barely a year into the job, he took his team to the final of the 2003 World Cup in Johannesburg where he hit a majestic match-winning 140 not out. There was no better way of him telling the world that this captaincy lark rather suited him.

It was a prodigious year of outstanding personal success for Ponting, who took over the Test captaincy as well in March 2004. He was effectively the second most important figure in Australian culture after the Prime Minister.

Damien Martyn and Ricky Ponting, Johannesburg, 2003

With Damien Martyn after hitting his unbeaten 140 in the 2003 World Cup final (Getty)

His first frustration as a leader came later that year, when a broken thumb kept him on the sidelines, and Adam Gilchrist duly led Australia to their first series win in India in 35 years.

Australia remained the pre-eminent side in world cricket as Ponting's management skills ensured he squeezed the best out of some big players with big egos nearing the end of their careers.

He was a little unfortunate to run into the a very fine England side in 2005, Michael Vaughan's men winning the extraordinary Ashes series that year.

But revenge was very sweet for Ponting when England were whitewashed 5-0 on home soil in 2006-07, the final Test series for Warne, Glenn McGrath and Justin Langer.

Having played in four winning Ashes series before losing his first as a captain, this was the perfect riposte from Ponting, whose indomitable spirit had revealed itself in the Adelaide Test of that winter.

The match itself will long be regarded as one of the most sickening defeats for an England team to suffer, given their almost impregnable position at the start of the final day.

Ponting later described Adelaide as "an amazing achievement". He seemed to relish the fact his team had been written off: "There were a lot of media who didn't think we could win, but we showed just how good a team we are and answered a lot of our critics."

That pugnacious spirit had been in evidence from the very first day of that series, when he pulled England's bowlers remorselessly for boundaries in a typical Ponting century that allowed him to set a personal stamp on proceedings.

A record-equalling run of 16 consecutive Test wins between December 2005 and January 2008 formed another illustrious feather to Ponting's much-decorated bow.

It was so important to get one over England on their home soil, however. And he failed to do it as the 2009 Ashes series went the way of their fiercest opponents.

Now that Australia were not winning so often, Ponting's somewhat one-dimensional approach to captaincy was laid bare, certainly on the first day of the Lord's Test that summer when Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss took toll of weak bowling and some ambitious field placings to put the game beyond Australia's reach within hours.

Batting against England, November 2006

Ponting hits Ashley Giles through the covers during his day one century in the 2006-07 Ashes (Getty)

The victim of pantomime booing by English spectators by now, no more so than at Lord's itself, he had nevertheless earned their respect. And if any of them had been part of the Barmy Army that toured Australia 18 months later they might have told stories to their mates back home of how Ponting would stop to pose for photos and autographs, even a chat.

Journalists too will tell you of a man who has always answered questions frankly, and who - despite the enormous time he has to spend with the media - frequently gives extra interviews on request.

His detractors seize on the negatives - the fixed, unbending approach to strategy and his occasional problems accepting the authority of umpires.

In the Melbourne Test last December, a match Australia had to win to wrest back the Ashes, he could see the game slipping away. With no other outlet to channel his frustrations, he rounded on umpire Aleem Dar when a television referral was unable to back up his belief that Kevin Pietersen had edged a catch behind.

More recently still, and searching for form, he was reprimanded for causing irreparable damage to a television in the dressing room after being run out in a World Cup match against Zimbabwe.

Somehow, he dug out a century from the memory banks in his last match as captain, against India, no less - the same team he failed to beat in two away Test series after the Gilchrist-led success.

Having played at the same time as Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and Jacques Kallis, Ponting's achievements as a player have not always received their due credit.

The only Australian to have surpassed 12,000 runs, he has amassed 39 Test centuries, behind only India's Sachin Tendulkar (51) and South African Jacques Kallis (40). His haul of 30 one-day centuries puts him second behind Tendulkar in the shorter format.

We may not have seen the last of Ponting as a player. One of the illustrious captains he succeeded, Allan Border, said: "The fact that he's given up the captaincy might just bring him up to play some of his best cricket over the next couple of years."

Michael Clarke, the man primed to replace him, has no easy task. Clarke is disliked by many Australians, both those who booed him to the crease in the recent one-day series against England and the 74% who revealed in a Sydney Morning Herald online poll they were opposed to him being captain.

Ponting may no longer be captain, but Australian cricket remains at a difficult watershed.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Ponting has resigned not before time. Fabulous batsman but not a great captain. Clarke can't cut it as captain. Give it to Shane Watson.

  • Comment number 2.

    Good, well timed decision from one of the great batsmen the world, certainly Australia, has produced. I feel that he wasn't such a brilliant captain, he did have an exceptional record statistically, but when Australia were in trouble, he didn't rise to the occasion as captain. He was, however, an exceptional batsmen with brilliant technique and style. Ricky Ponting's footwork and his timing in everything from his forward defensive to that pull shot, which he played better than anyone else in the world, have been a joy to watch. I hope he recovers some form and acts as a good mentor to the talented youngsters Australia has. When eventually Ponting does retire, I think he'd make a fantastic batting coach for Australia, potentially.

  • Comment number 3.

    Didn't Ponting get dropped early on during that knock at Headingley in 1997? Sure I remember someone putting him down and thus dooming us to 10 years of prolific run-scoring in the Ashes.

  • Comment number 4.

    Like most England fans, I've enjoyed some laughs at Ponting's expense over the last year or so.

    But now he has resigned the captaincy, it is time to pay tribute to the best Australian batsman since Bradman.

    He wasn't the most tactically astute captain, but it is hard to argue with his record and he arguably helped delay Australia's inevitable slide after greats like Warne and McGrath retired by moulding together those that followed - the series win in South Africa being a prime example.

    It is probably the right time to go especially if he can enjoy a similar indian summer renaissance in form such as that enjoyed by Sachin Tendulkar in the last two years.

    Michael Clarke has some big shoes to fill - and we're not sure he has what it takes to succeed.

    Interesting times for Australian cricket.

    Our tribute to Ponting for those that are interested: http://bit.ly/i482Ow

  • Comment number 5.

    3. My recollection is of Elliott being dropped by Thorpe in the slips very early on in his innings off Mike "Smudger" Smith. I do not recall Punter being dropped. And in checking the Wisden Almanack's online report of the match it describes Ponting's innings as "chanceless" while Elliott, a much more awkward though dogged batsman, was, according to Wisden, spilt three times in all.

  • Comment number 6.

    You are right Oliver, it was Elliott that was dropped by Graeme Thorpe thus depriving Smith what would have been his first and only Test wicket - Smith shared his pain on this when I played in a six-a-side tournament arranged as part of his benefit year.

  • Comment number 7.

    I think the reason I've disliked Ponting so much over the last few years is because he is so good - that recent innings against India showed so much class, and his wicket has always been extremely valuable.

    I agree that he may now kick on as a batsman without the captaincy, and he will continue to be the one to get out. The only difference now to years gone by is that Australia might struggle to hold up the other end while he bats.

  • Comment number 8.

    I actually struggled to recognise Ponting without his baggy green on.

    A top class player, possibly one of the greatest ever and most definitely a fans player, you either loved or hated him but either way he would always entertain the crowd and never complained. Had a mixed bag as captain going from arguably the best XI ever to ever play international cricket and then to the Australian team of last year which are complete polar opposites.

    I'm sure that a fair few counties are regretting getting thier overseas player for the next few seasons with the news that Ponting is wanting to player domestic cricket in England. I know I would have him over the Sri Lankian we have at Lancashire.

  • Comment number 9.

    Feel for Ponting - the pressure was mounting so he pretty much had to go, despite being a fantastic servant for Australian cricket. I hope he carries on playing in the side - he's still far and away the batsman opposition teams fear the most.

    His captaincy sometimes lacked that bit of imagination, especially compared to the Vaughans, Smiths and Vettoris of this world. When you've got a side containing Warne, McGrath, Gilchrist and Hayden etc that doesn't matter but I can't help but feel if you've got a side containing good but not great players then it can make all the difference. Nevertheless it was and is a privilege to watch him bat and even as a long suffering Pom I'd wish him another good few years in international cricket (except the next time he comes to England, of course......).

    As for Australias next captain? Well no candidate really stands out, especially given the chopping and changing over the winter. Clarke may get it but you can't help but think Aus are going from an average captain who's a great batsman to an average captain who's a just-above-average batsman. Time will tell how it works out but I suspect things will get worse before they get better now for Australia.....

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    anyone think that Ponting looks like an older version of Messi? in some photos at least?

  • Comment number 12.

    Met Punter in Brum two years ago - happy to pose for a few pics with us and banter away whilst having a few drinks. Good bloke and top bat in my opinion.

  • Comment number 13.

    There is no doubt about the fact that he is one of the best batsmen that played the game. No doubt about his captaincy skills either but one also must remember that he had some of the best cricketers of the time playing for him. This is underlined by the fact that the winning record doesn't look as good after those greats retired from the game !

    After reading the text it feels like the writer thinks there is only one nation Ponting played against and his career (or for that matter any test cricketer's career) should only be looked at from English perspective !

    Anyway, I will remember him for his great fielding skills, his big-free flowing batting on either side of the wicket and his highly unsporting behaviour on the field !

  • Comment number 14.

    Yes he made some strange decisions, Yes he wasn't a 'walker', and Yes he did make some mistakes. But lets not forget people, over the past decade we have been privileged to have been able to watch one of the ALL TIME greats of the game. The majority of the kids at my club all want to be Ricky and want to play shots like Ricky. Very few want to be a Strauss, Cook or Trott...

  • Comment number 15.

    Whilst his batting ability can not be called into doubt, his captaincy abilities were clearly exposed as average with the retirement of the great players he inherited when given the position. Possibly the luckiest skipper in test cricket during the first several years, having been given a team that almost captained itself.

    With regards to his replacement, neither Clarke or Watson are popular with the Aus public, and there a few players currently in the Test/ODI team that are established and guaranteed their spot on form to choose from. Maybe the lad White? Does he not captain his state side? My on the spot knowledge is not that great, please feel free to correct me on that point.

  • Comment number 16.

    can't see austrlian cricket recovering from this very quickly

  • Comment number 17.

    We have been lucky to witness a period in international cricket filled by some truely great cricketers / characters Ponting being one of them.

    To lead some of the all-time Aussie greats he must have something about him as a leader. He has also competed with the best from other nations in all arena's and more often than not won including the Aussies versus the rest of the world XI and won.

    Enjoy your farewell tours RP you've earned them....

  • Comment number 18.

    I can't understand why Ponting has so many detractors. His record speaks for itself. With 12,000 test runs at an average of 50 he is arguably Australia's greatest batsman since Bradman, and for most of his time as captain his side was the dominant force in world cricket.

    It's tempting to say that any captain would have won matches with the likes of Gilchrist, McGrath and Warne. But presiding over a bunch of superstars with egos to match is by no means straightforward. That Punter succeeded is a testament to the huge respect he commands. Those who say that he lacked imagination on the field should remember that man-management is just as crucial to successful captaincy.

    Punter is also a great bloke and a terrific ambassador for cricket. We can forgive him the odd smashed TV — at least it shows the passion is still there at 36. I wish him well and hope he'll stay around for another couple of years.

  • Comment number 19.

    The man talked a straight game, played a straight game. No hiding behind fake diplomacy, no hiding from anything, anyone. He played/s his game fearlessly and frankly. The man's CV asks for no defending, he stands firmly with integrity and class intact. Well played, respect.

  • Comment number 20.

    What stands out abut Ponting is that he is a formidable opponent and a fighter. It was his misfortune to lead a rather lack luster Australian team in recent times and that perhaps affected his performance as a batsman and rather made him fall prey picking unavoidable and unsavory fights on the field.

  • Comment number 21.

    Well, i don't know why you're all mourning Punters decision.

    Great player, poor captain. Unfortunately when his captain limilations were exposed like at the Ashes his game also suffered.

    I can understand people mourning if he'd decided to retire from cricket, but why are you mourning him quitting the captaincy job which he wasn't very good at?

    This blog is wrong; he should have quit before the last ashes. When it was already clear Australia didn't have a great side, and the captain wouldn't be capable of making them play above themselves.

  • Comment number 22.

    A remarkable batsman, but he is still batting so lets not write the obituaries for that yet. As captain? Mediocre on the field, but in my opinion very refreshing off it.

    I think there can be little arguing that Punter was/is a great of the game. The interesting thing about this is that unlike arguably most 'greats', he often didn't deliver when the pressure was really on. So many of his more infamous episodes as Australian captain have come when his side has been put under genuine pressure by worthy opponents. The Ashes of 2005 and 2010/11 and that infamous home series against India in 07/08 were all massive tests of the Australian team and they were tests that, in one way or another, were failed. During these episodes, the dignity of Australian cricket took a battering under Punter's leadership (though, it should be said, not without provocation in 05 and 07/08).

    Having said that, he was a genuinely likeable bloke in the flesh. I met him at Bristol and he was more than willing to have a chat about the impending ODI against England but also - and this surprised me - spoke very bluntly about his team's capitulation against Bangladesh a few days earlier. All the while he was getting verbals over his shoulder from various England fans, which he either ignored or - more often - gave a little back in a good humoured way.

    Cricket Australia simply ducked a tough issue in making him captain. Yes, he had the respect of others for his phenomenal batting but he had never convinced anyone as a 1st class captain. No-one can doubt how much he wanted the role, but I would argue that the decision to give it to Punter ahead of others was a cop-out based on the slightly arrogant assumption that Australia would always be as good as they were at the time.


  • Comment number 23.

    As great as it was to jeer punter and get on his back , he is truly a legend of the game ,a batting genius albeit a few tough months , he will be sorley missed especially if he is not in the next ashes series and we should take our hat of to a true man ,legend and great bloke always very humble in his interviews , we love ya punter the game wont be the same without you

  • Comment number 24.

    excellent article and just one correction it is 51 (and 49 for the shorter version of the game) test centuries for Sachin Tendulkar and counting!!!!

  • Comment number 25.

    Always hated listening to people booing Ponting - one of the finest batsmen in the modern era, and I guess an australian would tell you of all time. I don't really like dishing out "all time" accolades, but I wouldn't begrudge any of the praise Ponting receives.

    As for his on field meltdowns, I'll miss them!

  • Comment number 26.

    great article and very balanced and fair review of the great man's career so far! Just one correction though! It is 51 test centuries and (48 one day hundreds ) for Sachin tendulkar and counting!

  • Comment number 27.

    Even more as an Englishman, I have utter respect and not a small degree of sadness in the decision taken by Ponting. That said, there can be no doubt that the timing of his resignation is spot on. It is imperative however that Cricket Australia keep him on board. Despite recent blips and inconsistency in form, he remains Australia's best and most complete batsman and given the obvious frailties of their present squad he simply has to be one of the first names on the team sheet.
    The second greatest batsman of his generation and one of the absolute greatest of all time. Here's to you Ricky and to many more runs at the highest level.

  • Comment number 28.

    As a Brit living in Australia, I have always felt its my patriotic duty to take comfort in any hardships Ricky endured. The aggressive snarling at batsmen and any player who dared make life difficult for him made this a pretty easy stance to take. The problem is having met the guy he is actually one of the friendliest, humblest and most genuine world class sportsmen I have ever met. A few years back he came to Somerset to have a stint at captaining the club. 24 hours after he arrived in England he agreed to play in a 20/20 benefit match for Keith Parsons against my old club. The weather was drizzly but he was so keen to help out a team mate and not disappoint the crowd. He could have easily cried off a game where he could have easily slipped and hurt himself. After the game he came into our changing room and had a beer with the boys ( he could have been any old overseas player at our club).
    A year later I found myself the wrong side of the gates for a sell out one dayer between Australia and Pakistan at the WACA. Trying my luck I asked the box offic manager if he could get a message to Ricky. Eventually the team manager came down and I explained who I was and whether there was a chance of any free tickets. Within 5 minutes 2 tickets came down with a note from Ricky saying sorry I couldnt come down to say hi but here are some tickets and enjoy the game. A gesture that does not sit well with the petulant side of the man that the English public love to boo. The gist of this I guess is that Ricky like most of us is not without flaws but I do believe that deep down he is a champion player who deserves a great send off similar to the one Tendulkar is now receiving as he plays his final games at test arenas round the world. Thank you for the entertainment Ricky.

  • Comment number 29.

    Right time...? Errrr, what ever happened to the saying 'to go out on a high'?!?!

  • Comment number 30.

    in all honesty Ponting is one of the few players who has captained a side that was the best in the world but within 3-4 years that side has become no more than average due to players retiring etc. That didnt happen to other captains of dominating teams-Certainly in my lifetime anyway. The likes of Ian Chappell in the 70s and Clive Lloyd once the West Indies became the top side and then the recent Aussie captains of Taylor & Steve Waugh captained teams that stayed at the top of the tree and were not really tested because the player quality never dropped

    i dont think any of those players mentioned would have been able to do much with the current crop of aussies beaten in the ashes this winter. Great batsmen-probably criticised too harshly with regards to his captaincy bearing in mind the personel available

  • Comment number 31.

    #9 "His captaincy sometimes lacked that bit of imagination, especially compared to the Vaughans, Smiths and Vettoris of this world"

    Is that the Vaughan who (sort of) conquered the World when he had the best 4 pronged pace attack England (and possibly the World) had seen for many years... but then led his team back to mediocrity when a few of them picked up long term injuries?

    Is that the same Smith who has now led his team to 2 dismal World Cup exits and backed up an amazing series win in Australia by being beaten (at home) by that hopeless captain Ponting and a team of no hopers?

    It's getting a bit boring, everyone going on about how poor Ponting is as a captain. What is he meant to do with the cattle he has had for the last few years? How come it's nothing to do with him when he's got great players in his team but it's all his fault when he has a bunch of duds. I'm not sure what a captain is meant to do when your bowlers aren't skillful enough to bowl where you tell them to and your batsmen don't score runs.

    When Vaughan had the cattle, he's a world beater. When he didn't.. he lost and was forced out. What makes him so great? The fact that he won the Ashes 2-1 at home?

    Vettori (and his former colleague Fleming) can probably be called good captains but, at the end of the day, what have the achieved? They didn't/don't have the players to make a great team and that's all there is to it.

    Great teams make great captains. Not the other way around.

  • Comment number 32.

    Amongst others (Smith and Vettori also are going or will go), I think world cricket is the poorer for the loss of Ricky Ponting as captain of Australia. As a dual citizen of Eng/SA, I have had the privilege of seeing Punter at both the Wanderers and Lords in test and ODI cricket. The world cup final in Johannesburg (v India, March 2003) was probably Ponting at the peak of his career as captain and batsman. His innings was imperious and even as a disappointed SAfrican, I had to realise I was lucky to have seat in the umpire's box that day. I was seeing one of the greats - yes, I would definitely put him in that category. Over the years, he has demonstrated all the qualities of a top-order batsman for the ages - application and doggedness under pressure, patience, concentration and timing, not to mention the best pull shot I've ever seen in my time as a spectator and umpire in the game. Our living room wall in London bears costly testament to an imitation of that. Back in my younger days, I enjoyed it when we (the Proteas) got up Ricky's nose, but over time he has proved that he is one of the best custodians of test cricket, eschewing the garrish and undignified allure of smack-bang-dancing&DJs T20 nonsense. Thank you, Mr Ponting; hopefully you will claim your rightful place in the pantheon of legends.

  • Comment number 33.

    Yes - 51 Sachin centuries it is... apologies for not double-checking that stat and well done for pulling me up on it. Correction now made!

    Thanks for all the replies, but if you have not read the marvellous anecdote from replier no. 28, please do so, and thanks for sharing it!

    Also, very good point from no.30 - to go from skippering one of the best sides in your country's history to one of its weakest is possibly a uniquely problematic task.

  • Comment number 34.

    Listen folks, we've all had the banter with Ponting over the years but some of the people slagging him off as a captain need to get things in perspective.

    Yes - a lot of his wins as skipper came with arguably the best test side ever.... (argument for another article).

    However - a lot of his worst moments as skipper (2005 aside) have come with a very ordinary Australian team.

    So whilst it is easy to captain a great side, it's also extremely difficult to captain such an average one against good quality teams. It's not as though the Aussies were losing Tests to poor sides. They lost to a very good England twice and a very good India.

    Other than that the's kept an average team on an even keel. It would have been an absolutely astounding achievement if Australia had beaten England in the Ashes, because England are a much better Test side at the moment. No amount of imaginative captaincy would have changed that. When you are facing quality batsmen and your only option is to throw the ball to Doug Bollinger and Ryan Harris et al. then you are in trouble.

    He's been a true great as a player and as a captain and he deserves great respect.

  • Comment number 35.

    Agree with posts 1 and 4, a fantastic batsmen. In fact one of the best 5 batsmen of his generation.

    Captaincy not so feared, who can forget putting England in (Edgbaston 05), and taking bad light (Oval 05)! But i think you could forgive him that over a great career.


  • Comment number 36.

    great article Oliver!! in a weird sort of way it seems like an obitaury the end of an era. Certaintly England Australia clashes won't be as fiery. A great player, and Oliver makes a great point in saying that his captaincy methods, overshadow the truly great and formidable batsman he really was. Even as an Englishmen I am sad to see him go, as I have grown up with him as the leading image of the Australian Cricket team.

  • Comment number 37.

    andysw17 wrote:
    #9 "His captaincy sometimes lacked that bit of imagination, especially compared to the Vaughans, Smiths and Vettoris of this world"

    Is that the Vaughan who (sort of) conquered the World when he had the best 4 pronged pace attack England (and possibly the World) had seen for many years... but then led his team back to mediocrity when a few of them picked up long term injuries?

    ----------------

    You know there was cricket before the 2005 Ashes. I'm guessing you're something of a glory hunter/newcomer, otherwise you'd appreciate how Vaughan's best work as captain was not done with the 4-part pace attack available for most of 2003 and 2004. Vaughan was a gambler, an innovative and superb captain, and I think his heyday was leading us to victory in South Africa in 04/05, even more impressive than the Ashes win.

    As for Ponting, he was a GREAT batsman. Bradman is no. 1; but Ponting is now in the Trumper/Morris/Chappell debate as who is no. 2.

    As captain though... there was a sense that he was fortunate, he captained a great side that virtually led itself - what could you really say to improve Warne's spin, Gilchrist's aggression, McGrath's accuracy or Langer's concentration?! But I think the key was managing these potentially divisive personalities and maintaining their hunger to the very end.

    A great batsman, a good captain. I'll miss him, despite his centuries against England!

  • Comment number 38.

    He looks so much younger in the photo's on this blog than when wearing whites.

    Great player who ultimately did his best with diminishing resourses.

    He will be missed. Cricket needs a pantomine villain, especially one who happens to be a very good player.

  • Comment number 39.

    Have to agree with Pontings own words, although his record as captain is second to none its the three Ashes series losses that are remembered which imo is very unfair. Ponting may not have been the best skipper ever but he certainly was not a poor captain. As a batsman he is probably only slightly behind Tendulkar and arguably as good if not better than another great Lara.

    Ponting can now concentrate solely on his batting and with that winning hard Aussie attitude he has it would not suprise me if he matches any other of the worlds great batsmen in his final years. The way Ponting still prowls in the field tells me he still has the desire and attitude to continue to play for Australia and i for one believe he will still be the big Aussie wicket the next time the Ashes are contested in England.

    Its very easy to say Ponting captained Australia at a time when they had the worlds best players but i doubt its as easy scoring 12,000+ runs over many years. Pontings achievments are amazing and when he finally does decide to retire he maybe the hardest of them all to replace.

  • Comment number 40.

    I can't think of anyone I will miss seeing losing to England as much!

  • Comment number 41.

    Good article Mr Brett. He is one of the top 5 batsmen of his generation (Lara, Tendulkar, Kallis and, to a certain extent, Dilshan included in that list). I can't see him playing on for much longer. Maybe just one more Ashes series for old times sake.

  • Comment number 42.

    A great player who knew that time isnt on his side but he brought success to Australia in Test and ODI's
    However I cant see him carrying on as a player for Asutralia and someone else being the Captain...it just wouldnt work out.
    But when you smash 11,000 runs and still bring success, it gets you enemies and he loved the boos he got from the England Fnas, he lapped it up with joy.
    Shame he is going to quit as Captain but it was the right time, Australia need a fresh face leading the team and Punter is still regared as one of the last of the old guard...I cant see him staying on as a Player for too long but whaever he does..he's a great player and goes out in style.

  • Comment number 43.

    Yes he lost the ashes 3 times, but he pulled off a ahses whitewash, 16 test win streak, 3 world cups and 34 game word cup win streak. plus 3 double centuries in a calender year and 12000 test runs as a batsmen means hes something special.

    but i cant see him staying around. the selectors dont usually keep the ex captains around after they retire.

  • Comment number 44.

    No 37 - Spaced Invader

    You know there was cricket before the 2005 Ashes. I'm guessing you're something of a glory hunter/newcomer, otherwise you'd appreciate how Vaughan's best work as captain was not done with the 4-part pace attack available for most of 2003 and 2004. Vaughan was a gambler, an innovative and superb captain, and I think his heyday was leading us to victory in South Africa in 04/05, even more impressive than the Ashes win.

    --------------------

    Not sure how making a comment about a cricket captain makes me a "glory hunter". What on Earth do you mean?

    His heyday was during the 04/05 SA tour was it? Was that the tour where he had (you guessed it) the same 4 pronged pace attack he had for the 2005 Ashes? Or maybe you mean the successful West Indies tour where he had the same pace attack? Should I go on?

    So when I said he had the benefit of a very good bowling unit, was I wrong? Did I suggest I was only talking about the 2005 Ashes?

    Funny how he wasn't as successful when Flintoff and Jones started getting injured and Harmison couldn't hit a barn door. I would have thought a captain purportedly as good as Vaughan would have overcome the small issue of losing 2 excellent strike bowlers in short succession. I can only imagine how he would have faired had he lost 3 or 4 once-in-a-generation players within the space of 2 years.

    But why put things in context?

  • Comment number 45.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 46.

    andysw19,

    Flintoff vs McGrath, Giles vs Warne, Harmison vs Lee, Hoggard vs. Gillespie, Jones vs. Kasprowiz (sp?). I wouldn't say that Englands bowling line up at that time were the best in the series, let alone the best in the world......

    (although no-one would argue that the loss of McGrath was a blow to Ponting...)

  • Comment number 47.

    The pressure was getting to Ponting so he did the sensible thing, for once, and resigned. I think he would have gone after the last Ashes had the World Cup not been just around the corner. I don't know how good Clarke will be, I like him as a person and player but he can't handle the egos of the dressing room like Ponting did. Proof of this can be seen in the story when there was an argument over music being played in the dressing room and Katich grabbed Clarke round the throat and had to be physically restrained. This is also a rebuilding period for Clarke and I don't think he has a big enough personality to mentor the younger players coming through and get the best out of them.

    As for the alternatives, Watson is a good shout but unlike Clarke he has no experience, so he may end up as vice-captain and take over the role in a few years time. Mike Hussey would also be good, a leader even without the captaincy role, but he may not have many more years left in him, in which case having him as captain and Watson as vice-captain would give Watson the experience he needs and allow him then to take over the captaincy after a year or so a remain as captain for a number of years. Brad Haddin could also take over the role but I don't think I would put him much above Clarke.

    When England lost Vaughn it took a few years for them to find Strauss, including the disastrous episodes with Flintoff and Pieterson (who in my opinion was unlucky and did a good job.) It will be interesting to see whether or not Australia, who are already a team in transition, will go through the same problems. It may be a couple of years before we see the next regular Australia captain.

  • Comment number 48.

    Rich_owl

    Have to disagree strongly there. During 2004-5, there is no way that the Aussie pace attack was as good as England's. McGrath was obviously good until the end but Lee was too erratic at the time (but had his good moments), Gillespie was struggling and Kasper... please.

    Flintoff, Harmison, Jones and Hoggard were, during that period, fast, accurate and working as bloody good team. They were excellent and it became apparent just how important they were to that team as soon as Flintoff and Jones started going lame.

    Anyway, I'm amazed by people saying "Ponting only won because he had great players"... yet apparently Vaughan was successful because he was an amazing leader of an average team... rubbish. If he hadn't had those bowlers he would be just another name on a long list of English captains who were good but not good enough.

    I wish Vaughan had been fit for the 2006-7 series as i suspect that the "super-captain" would not have made a jot of difference to the 5-0 result. At least we know that Vaughan thinks he was the greatest captain ever. I doubt we'll have to listen to Punter tell us all how good he was in the commentary box.

  • Comment number 49.

    Ponting's time has come: great batsman but poor captain, not dissimilar to one Brian Lara.

  • Comment number 50.

    Glad that Ponting has gone as captain . The frustrating thing about Ponting captaincy was he repeatedly over the years made bewildering tactical decisions in critical situations in games. I think many people see Clarke as in the same mould as Ponting and also question his public life. However we should give him a chance but if it doesn't work hopefully he wont be retained due to his ability with the bat. Captaincy ability is independent of cricketing ability . Just because somebody is the best player it doesn't follow that they should be captain.

  • Comment number 51.

    A fine captain and a fine batsman as an Englishman who has been to Oz to watch Ashes series it was always a relief to see him on his way back to the pavillion. I suppose thats the ultimate compliment.

  • Comment number 52.

    Now is the correct time for him to step down from captaincy. Australia needs change now if they want to improve and rebuild their team. I expect Ponting still got another couples of years left for him to play for Australia.

  • Comment number 53.

    Realise its a bit off-topic, but going to wade in on the Vaughan captaincy debate going on in a few posts above.

    Personally I'm inclined to agree that Vaughan was a great captain (I'd argue the greatest England have had). No doubt however, that a few factors - the blooming of his players at roughly the same time, his partnership with Fletcher and the vastly improved infrastructure he inherited from the Hussain/Fletcher years - gave him a great deal of assistance.

    That said, on the pitch he was prepared to take gambles and they usually played off. Placing a man short on the on-drive for the Aussie openers in 2005 was a masterstroke for e.g. Another one that sticks in the memory was the slip cordon against the Windies during Harmisons magical spell of 12-7 (apologies if I got that wrong, but can't be bothered to check Cricinfo). Yes, the game was effectively won at that point, but Vaughan was always aware of the psychological aspect of the game and knew that he wasn't just sending a statement out to the Windies but the rest of the world. Harmison never hit those heights again, but Vaughan had burnished his reputation sufficiently to ensure that batsmen were far more wary of him than was warranted and Harmy benefitted from that. Oh, and I think that Vaughan was fully aware that to all intents and purposes, at least 4 of those slips were completely redundant as actual fielders.

    Finally, we look back on the 2005 side as a golden era of great players peaking at the same time. Easy to forget that they were not the easiest bunch of players to manage: An opener suffering with serious depression, a succession of wicketkeepers with little confidence of their place in the team, your main strike bowler and your main spinner both struggling from serious confidence issues on an almost perpetual basis, two alpha-male characters both wanting to boss the dressing room etc. The success of the 2005 team was also a masterstroke of man-management.

  • Comment number 54.

    Ponting is a top class batsmen. Scored a brilliant century against the eventual World champions. Did his best with the available talent at his disposal. Well played.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 55.

    Can't deny it, if Ponting was English he would probably have two knighthoods by now.

    Anyone else pleased to hear Mark Waugh quoted as saying "the Australia team" rather than "team Australia"? Small mercies.

  • Comment number 56.

    After South Africa choking once again in this year's World Cup, I think it's good time the brilliant Graeme Smith departs too.

 

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