The Captain who lost Three Ashes Series

That seems to be the phrase I keep hearing used to describe Ricky Ponting’s tenure as captain of Australia. What a total joke that is.

Whatever Ponting’s failings or achievements as a captain, his knockers should remember that here is a man who has given his all to the cause of representing his country.

Criticism of Ponting such as the view that anybody could be a good captain with players like Warne and McGrath in their side is a bit of a cheap shot.

People should remember that not only is he a truely world class batsman, he is also a great leader of men, a great team man and he never hid or ducked anything when he was captain.

Ponting wasn’t perfect, I have shouted at my tele over his actions and onfield conduct many a time, and the incident with Aleem Dar at Melbourne certainly wasn’t his proudest moment.

But having watched a lot of Australia over the years, I got the feeling that his players would run through brick walls for him. They seemed to trust him and knew that as their captain, he would back them to the hilt.

So if he was such a crap captain (as all these ex-Aussie cricketers keep telling us he was), then why was it that his team mates seemed to hold him in such high regard?

Ponting smashes TV and then beats women and children with cricket bat

It’s now apparently time to boot alledged TV basher Ricky Ponting out of the world cup and banish him to Libya to accompany Colonel Gaddafi in his bunker during his fight to the death.

Ponting’s actions on Monday were incomprehensible and this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated by the Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA), he now needs sacking as Australia captain and ejecting from the world cup with immeadiate effect.

According to reports I have read and heard, it appears that Ponting seen a rerun of his run out and smashed the television set to bits with his bat in a rage, the splinters of glass then flew off in all different directions injuring officials and also members of the public who just happened to be walking under an open window near to where it happened.

He was then seen running around chasing women and kids, swinging his bat at them and screaming and shouting like a mad man. Apparently the ICC are also now trying to get him and are waiting for him in Nagpur, probably hiding outside the school gates.

Now, whats this I hear? Oh, apparently that isn’t quite true after all? What? It seems that things got over exaggerated and blown out of all proportion, really? Why would anyone want to do a thing like that?

Yes, a more realistic version of events has emerged, apparently something – either a glove or his box – was chucked and bounced off his bag hitting the tele and knocking part of the pixels out. A slight contradiciton to some off the extravagent stories doing the rounds over the past couple of days (Ok, so I may have exaggerated my version as well).

I’ve been looking on some of the websites reporting this story and some of the write-ups and readers comments are out of this world.

Some people say he’s a racist, they want him booted out of India, banned from cricket, it’s total madness. What planet are these people living on? It’s just an accident, he’s paying for the damage, so calm down folks.

It cannot be denied though that it is a funny story. Not just the tele incident, but the hysterical over reaction to it. So to join in, I’ll give you my version of events.

I reckon that when Ponting got back in the dressing room, a certain Duncan Fletcher video was playing on the TV, in which he was explaining how he kept his bowlers fresh and how it helped him win a test match at Trent Bridge back in 2005.

Ponting was then engulfed with rage, it reopened old wounds and he couldn’t help himself and he tried to pull the LCD down off the wall. While being restrained by Watto, 8 for 1000 and Mitch, the TV was dropped on the floor and smashed.

In the reckage where Fletcher’s face had been, was a glove belonging to Ponting. This was the evidence used to confirm his guilt.

Prior and Dar do ICC’s job for them!

There was some justice dished out in Ricky Ponting’s direction in the form of Matt Prior’s innings following a correct reprieve from the impressive Aleem Dar. The ICC don’t seem capable of punishing Ponting, so it was good to see Dar’s ‘non biased’ intervention punish him instead.

The match situation when Prior edged Johnson behind on 1 meant Australia would have been back in with a bit of a sniff, as at the time England were wobbling badly and on he verge of a major collapse.

Aleem Dar has certainly done his job with a lot more skill, accuracy, composure, class and dignity than Ricky Ponting has in Melbourne. In fact I think Dar went well beyond the call of duty and was excellent in all he did.

Ponting should have been suspended for the SCG test in my opinion. He went way too far last night and was a disgrace, even some of his teammates you could see in the background looked embarrassed by his actions.

The fact that Ponting looks set to lose his job as captain, either before or after the Sydney test match is irrelevant. ICC should not be making decisions based on compassion, the decision should have been based on the facts.

Did the ICC show compassion on Ricky’s behalf? In my opinion, yes, they did.

Lately, dissent and over the top behaviour in cricket has been getting a bit too frequent for my liking. I believe that ICC have missed a chance to clamp down on dissent and set a high profile precedent with Ricky Ponting. If he is going to argue the toss like that over something he didn’t even see, then what might he dispute next?

He’s not the only one though. We have seen acts of petulance from Stuart Broad, although watching a profile on his father the other day showed it went on in days gone by too.

There was also the ugly scenes between Australia and India in the 2007-08 series, with all the rubbish with Harbhajan Singh, Andrew Symonds and Matthew Hayden.

I also remember in the Sydney test match of that same series, seeing Ricky Ponting raising the finger on behalf on the umpire and pointing Sourav Ganguly back to the pavilion when he rightly questioned a catch in the slips. It was yet another example of Ponting crossing the line.

It wasn’t great in the Australia V West Indies series last year with Sulieman Benn, Mitchell Johnson and Brad Haddin. I though the Aussies got away with that one a bit as well.

I know cricket has a long way to go to catch up with football. But in order to ensure we never go down that road it’s time for ICC to really get tough with acts of petulance and blatent dissent.

Ponting Sinks to a New Low

He is the first Aussie captain to lose 2 Ashes series in England for 119 years, he has just overseen Australia’s worst test match (3) losing sequence for over 20 years.

Also Australia have slumped to their lowest ever test ranking (5, even lower than the poms) and he has had to endure calls for his head as captain from a host of ex-players, fans and journalists.

Then just when Ponting thought his luck couldn’t get any worse, it did.

In his 2nd innings of Tasmania’s, Sheffield Shield match against New South Wales, Ponting suffered the humiliation of losing his wicket to the pie chucking of Shane Watson.

Just how bad have things got to get for Ricky before his luck bottoms out?

Aussie Humour

This blog is and will remain a non Royal wedding site, but I just had to mention this. On Radio 5 Live an Aussie tourist was asked outside Buckingham Palace what he thought of the Royal engagement, he replied “it is a big news story, but not as big as the Ashes.”

Well said that man.

Ponting Under Fire

There seems to be a bit of a story developing over in Australia with ‘good old Punter’ coming in for some stick over his captaincy. Every Aussie blog I visit seems to have contributors calling for Ricky to go and Geoff Lawson has been very vocal in calling for his head too.

I can’t see any logic in this. How could removing Ponting at this stage really improve Australia’s chances of winning back the Ashes?

This is one of those issues where people seem to be calling for change, just for the sake of change.

In these situations as a fan, I would always ask myself ‘What would the opposition prefer us to do?’

Personally, I believe that Andrew Strauss would be far more confident if Michael Clarke is captain when the two teams line up for the 1st test next month. Imagine the upheaval in Australia’s ranks if Ponting was forced out or releaved of his duties now, England would be loving it.

Ponting is also a far more intimidating captain to face up against. The sight of him at the toss will tell Andrew Strauss and England that they are in a real match, on top of that he is still one of the best batsmen in the world.

As daft as it sounds given all his cricket experience, but Ponting could still be learning his trade as a skipper. For years with Warne, Gilchrist, McGrath, etc in the team, the side almost ran itself and Ponting didn’t need to do much in the art of captaincy.

With the side he is now left with, Ponting more so, has to call the shots. Ok, so he is not the finished article, as Andrew Strauss isn’t either, but they are still both the best men for the jobs.

It’s not strange for that kind of rubbish talk to be going on in England either. A similar amount of crap came from the mouths of Darren Gough and Derek Pringle just over a month ago when they claimed that Andrew Strauss shouldn’t even be in the 50 over team.

There reason, because he won’t be any good on the sub-continent for the world cup. As is usually the case, they haven’t looked at the bigger picture.

Were they truely advocating that England should remove Strauss from the 50 over captaincy just 2 months before the start of the Ashes? That now we have a settled side in all formats of the game, that we should drop the 50 over captain and disrupt the whole balance and unity of the side?

Brains of Britain those two. Aren’t we just glad they are both journalists and not selectors?

I know that Alec Stewart was present for that TV debate. The reason why I didn’t include him in my criticism is because it was more the other two who were making the case for removing Strauss. Although I have to say Stewart didn’t do much to argue against them, so maybe he is just as bad/stupid.

Warne V Ponting

Not sure if this is all a storm in a tea cup, but Shane Warne’s tweet about the field placings to Nathan Hauritz’s bowling didn’t appear to go down too well with Ricky Ponting earlier today.

Warne said on Twitter “How the hell can hauritz bowl to this field ?? Feeling for hauritz , terrible !! What are these tactics ? Sorry Ricky but what are you doing”.

Pretty strong criticism from Warne.

I’ve always thought that when Shane Warne gives his opinion, that it is usually a constructive view, not just someone aimlessly rambling and bad mouthing someone, but I’m not too sure what to make of this one.

Ricky Ponting says Hauritz sets his own field. If this is the case and the field was that bad, then why didn’t Ponting change it? Which suggests to me that Ponting did have some influence in the field placings.

If both Ponting and Hauritz were happy with the field placings, then the difference of opinion would suggest that someone, either these two, or Shane Warne is badly out of touch with how to set a field.

Personally, I think I would trust Warne.

The reason why I say I’m not sure if this is constructive criticism from Warne is because I always got the feeling that there was a bit of friction between the two over the captaincy.

In the 2005 Ashes series, Ponting’s captaincy came in for some fierce criticism at times. At the same time there was continued talk about how Shane Warne was the real leader of the team and about how he was the best captain Australia never had.

At times Warne seemed to carry the side during that series and maybe this still rankles with him a bit.

Also, Ponting never really had to be a good captain back in those days such was the talent he had at his disposal and maybe Warne didn’t rate him and sees this as his chance to let him know publicly what he thought.

Will be intersting to see if this esculates into a bigger story, it wouldn’t be just what England would be wanting to see just before the start of the Ashes, would it!

Cricket Betting – India V Australia

From a neutral point of view I’ve got to say that I am not great a fan of a 2 match test series like the one we have here. Two of the top sides in the world should be playing a minimum of 3 tests, but such is the busy schedule these days, I’m afraid 2 it is.

From a biased English point of view, I would much rather be seeing Australia playing a gruelling 4 or 5 match series, but never mind.

I find it hard to see Australia taking 20 wickets in either of these two test matches unless someone manages to conjure up an unlikely bowlers paradise from somewhere, something which I can’t really see happening.

That means that I don’t see Australia winning the series, but can they draw it though?

I think that they have a good chance as the batting looks to be the strongest part of both teams and the chances are that the pitches are going to favour the batsmen as well, which would suggest that a drawn series looks the most likely outcome.

The only problem is that odds of 7/4 with William Hill on a drawn series dosen’t represent much value in my view. All it takes is one batting collapse, even one bad session in a test series this short and the series can be lost.

For the record India are 15/8 with Stan James and Australia are 2/1 with Bet365 to win the series.

Moving onto the 1st test in Mohali and there is nothing to seperate the teams in the betting for this one either. The draw is again the favourite at 11/10 with Stan James, while both sides can be backed at 5/2 for the win.

Early indications are that the wicket has a bit of grass on it, but I would imagine it will flatten out early on day 1. With this in mind I would urge caution in backing the draw, but to be fair I wouldn’t back a draw at that price anyway. As I wrote earlier, you only need one bad session to lose a test match.

For me this looks too close to call, the draw looks the obvious call but you never know, so I am certainly not planning on having a bet on the outcome of this one at the moment.

I hope I am wrong and that we are not just going to witness two sets of batsmen dominating the series on flat lifeless pitches, these two teams are capable of producing good exciting cricket, but only if they are given the chance to do so.

We also could well be watching Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar playing their final test series against each other here. I think it is fair to say that they will both want to go out on a high so lets enjoy watching two of the best batsmen of our generation go head to head in what hopefully will be an enjoyable competitive series.

After the recent farcical events we have witnessed in England, the game of cricket could do with a welcome boost. These two giants of the game could be just the men to provide it.

History made at Lord’s

Yes, during the test match between Pakistan and Australia today, history was made when TMS missed commentating on the first 2 balls after lunch as they over ran a recorded interview with Imran Khan.

As the interview played out, a frantic cry of Christ was heard as commotion broke out in the commentary box. Normal service was then resumed with CMJ commenting that it was the cardinal sin for Test Match Special.

For a neutral test match the commentary was far more interesting than I expected it to be. Blowers was his usual self, going into hysterics at his first ever sighting of a bus at Edgbaston, due to the rebuilding work.

Don’t know if it’s just me, but Blofeld seems as daft as ever this year. His confusion of what team is playing, let alone who the fielder is, has become a source of great humour for his fellow commentators.

The sound of laughter from the back of the commentary box now seems a regular feature when Blowers is on. At one stage on Monday in the ODI, he was even mixing asian and white players up.

On the pitch Pakistan exploited the conditions well after winning the toss. With Asif, Aamer and Gul, they shouldn’t have any problems taking wickets.

The real test will come when they bat, not sure if giving debuts to Umar Amin and Azhar Ali to bat at 3 and 4 is that wise an idea, especially with the experienced Shoaib Malik in the squad.

A special mention for Australian captain Ricky Ponting. Lord’s may not be his happiest hunting ground for personal landmarks, but his 26 runs today seen him overtake Brian Lara to become the second highest test run scorer in history.

It won’t get him on the honours board, but it is an achievement that can’t be taken away from him.

Ricky Ponting retires from Twenty20

Ricky Ponting has announced his retirement from International Twenty20 cricket in the hope that it will help him to extend his Test Match and ODI career. He will continue to captain the Test and 50 over sides and is also set to honour the last year of his current IPL contract with Kolkata Knight Riders as well as remaining available to Tasmania in all the domestic competitions.

In taking this decision Ponting has shown great leadership in the world of cricket by showing that in his opinion playing Test cricket is still the pinnacle. He went on to say “As I said after the fifth Test in London, I am hoping to continue playing Test cricket for as long as possible and retiring from the Twenty20 format gives me the best chance of doing this. I will now have set periods of rest throughout the Australian summer and while touring which I feel will be very beneficial.”

Ponting already has history of putting Test cricket first after deciding to – again taking the lead – sit out the second year of his IPL contract in a bid to prepare properly and rest ahead of the Ashes tour.

In taking this decision he will give himself more periods throughout the season for rest and time away from the pressures of leading a team currently going through a period of transformation. With the ever demanding Australian press and public wanting to know what has gone wrong with the side over the last 12 months, the responsibility of being captain hasn’t been as testing as this for years – a strain which must be taking its toll on Ponting.

It would have been a very easy way out to walk away from all the pressuse and just take the money on offer and play in the shorter forms of the game. In doing it this way Ponting shows in which order his cricketing priorities sit, I hope he gets the recognition he deserves for his attempts to try and preserve Test Match cricket as the ultimate prize in the game.

Pressure grows on Ricky Ponting

He can’t seem to keep out of the news over the last seven days, it has been a strange time of late for Ricky Ponting. The list of issues surrounding the Aussie skipper seems to be getting longer by the days.

The week started well at Edgbaston last Friday when he became Australia’s all time leading run scorer, ironically he got a standing ovation from the Edgbaston crowd for this achievement. The fact that he got to Border’s record in 134 tests, 22 less than Border took seems to have been overlooked since and replaced with the – more important – booing debate.

All this week there has been an oungoing debate into the continued booing of Ponting since his criticism of England’s tactics in the final hour of the Cardiff test. The – what I believe to be mainly pantomine booing – seems to have followed him around since that 1st test with Giles Clarke now getting involved, Clarke has asked the crowd at Headingley to respect Ponting.

If the fact that Ponting’s team are still 1-0 down with only 2 to play isn’t getting to him yet, the latest news that anything other than winning the series 2-1 from here means they will lose their No1 test ranking to South Africa might do.

I don’t for a minute think Ponting is that concerned with the rankings, at the moment as all he is interested in is winning the series, if he manages that the rankings will take care of its self.

Australia have only won 5 of their past 14 tests and to return home with that record not improved upon, without the Ashes and possibly as low as No4 in the rankings would be a disaster for Ponting’s captaincy which has been under scrutiny from press and former players for a while now.

He has had plenty of team issues to handle with the form of Phil Hughes, Mike Hussey, Peter Siddle and Mitchell Johnson a major concern, over the last 15-20 years there can’t be too many previous captains that had concerns over so many players form, any player who wasn’t performing in the past could be carried for so long and then if things didn’t pick up there was always a top quality player waiting to come in. Injuries to Brad Haddin and Brett Lee also haven’t helped either.

In picking Shane Watson to open he took a massive gamble with his reputation as a captain prompting criticle words from recent team mates Michael Slater and Matthew Hayden. The decision to drop Hughes for Watson looked a massive risk to me and but for England’s woeful spell with the ball on the Thursday night session at Edgbaston getting Watson off to a flyer, it could have been a disaster for Ponting.

It now has also emerged that Ponting could be the first Australian captain in 100 years to lose two Ashes series in England, an accolade he could well do without taking back to Australia with him or there might well be a lot more than just a small section of the English crowd that boo him in the immeadiate future!