Australia v South Africa, 2nd Test, Adelaide, 3rd day November 24, 2012

Ponting, Quiney wobble as Watson improves


Ricky Ponting may have only one more Test to prove his worth to Australia's 2013 Ashes campaign and Rob Quiney's brief moment in the sun appears to be over, after both were nipped out at the batting crease late on day three of the second Test in Adelaide.

Shane Watson's recovery from a calf problem has continued in Adelaide, where he has batted in the nets each day and shown increasing levels of flexibility while running drills under the eye of the team physio Alex Kountouris and the strength and conditioning coach David Bailey. Watson is slated to travel with the team directly to Perth on Tuesday morning, and looks increasingly likely to return to the team for the third Test.

Having acknowledged the need to make runs in this Test or risk slipping ever closer to the end of his storied international career, Ponting followed up his ignominious dismissal to Jacques Kallis on day one by playing crookedly at a delivery from Dale Steyn to drag onto his stumps for 16.

This means Ponting has cobbled just 20 runs in three innings this series, leaving his Indian summer of 2011-12 to recede ever further into the distance. Ponting's time in the national team is reliant on runs, and they are in short supply right now.

"I haven't spoken to the selectors anything about my immediate future," Ponting told Channel Nine on the fourth morning. "I'm sure that conversation is going to come in the near future but nothing has happened just yet. The disappointing thing for me about the start of this Test series is I have felt in really good touch, my Shield stuff early season has been really good and I actually felt I was batting better than I had in a few years...

"I said going into the summer that it really is a game by game thing for me. I can't afford to look any further forward, I've got to keep my head down and score runs. If I score runs then I will get myself selected. If I don't I will leave the door open for someone else to come in my spot. That's where it sits at the moment and we'll wait and see what happens at the end of the game."

Following the end of the South Africa series, Australia's selectors may be inclined to look towards more youthful options for the three Tests scheduled against Sri Lanka in Hobart, Melbourne and Sydney over the holiday period, ahead of tougher assignments in India and the back-to-back Ashes series in 2013. Ponting admitted the precarious nature of his place in the side.

"I'm a realist. I live in the real world and I know if I'm not getting runs I might not make the summer out and I definitely won't be in England," Ponting said. "But we will wait and see what happens at the end of this game. I'm looking forward to the boys playing well this morning and hopefully getting a good win here and we'll see how we go for Perth.

"That is really all it is. I've got no illusions or disillusions about where my cricket's at. It's just a matter of working hard and hopefully when I get a chance to bat in the middle I'm a bit more assertive than I have been in the last couple of games.

"Yesterday's was probably a ball I shouldn't get bowled on. It was back of a length and short and ended up getting chopped onto the stumps, but the first innings I got a pretty good ball. How did I feel form wise? Probably if anything I have been a bit tentative, certainly in the first innings in Brisbane was a tentative shot and yesterday afternoon was a tentative shot. It's not the normal way I play.

"It was a tough situation yesterday as well when the ball was starting to reverse swing and there were six overs to go in the day. I probably needed to be a bit more positive."

Among younger batsmen around the country, Usman Khawaja has proven his batting ability with an outstanding century for Queensland on a treacherous Bellerive Oval surface earlier this month, while Phillip Hughes chose Saturday to make his first Sheffield Shield century for South Australia, an unbeaten innings at the MCG against Victoria. Alex Doolan, meanwhile, struck a compelling century for Australia A against the South Africans at the SCG before the Tests, and as a career No. 3 for Tasmania has useful experience in the top order.

Quiney's dalliance with Test cricket will most likely be a brief one so long as Watson is passed fit to play at the WACA ground, and he will ruminate unhappily on making a pair at Adelaide Oval. Much as he did in the first innings, Quiney edged a well-pitched delivery angled into him from around the wicket, the chance claimed by AB de Villiers.

After he was widely praised for looking forceful though making only nine runs in his first Test innings in Brisbane, Quiney is now nursing an average of 3.00, and his chances of improving on it have been reduced greatly by Watson's improving fitness.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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  • Dummy4 on November 26, 2012, 7:11 GMT

    @big4gcricket shield form is a bit diffrent to test form alright hes got his runs on the board in sheild but it hasent transferd to the big stage hes struggling to play they tempo falling over ect time to give some kids a go get ready for the ashes will ponting be a part of the ashes team if hes just filling a spot hes wasting time for some one else to come in and get used to test cricket

  • Dummy4 on November 26, 2012, 6:53 GMT

    Two cricketing giants Ricky Ponting & Sachin Tendulkar are struggling to find their form and score runs against quality bowling of South Africa and England respectively. True that they have done wonders to the Game of Cricket. Time ripe to say good buy. Selectors of respective countries should take a serious decision to include young blood to their respective teams.

  • raj on November 26, 2012, 5:10 GMT

    It is sad seeing two aging tigers, Ponting & Tendulkar, struggling like this. Sometimes great men have so much confidence and self-belief that they just do not know when to quit - Muhammad Ali being prime example. I hope both Ponting & Tendulkar can get decent scores or at least end up on the winning side before bowing out of the sport with their heads held high - with such long and distinguished careers, they deserve it.

  • Scott on November 26, 2012, 1:02 GMT

    Interesting all the cries for Khawaja when 2012 1st Class Results to date show Ponting 1191 runs (incl 5 centruiries) at average of 62.68, Phil Hughes 1299 runs at average of 38.20 and Khawaja 1102 runs at everage of 40.81 - unlike emotions, pure stats aren't biased.

  • John on November 25, 2012, 22:02 GMT

    The fact is Ponting, though he has had a great career, has really hit a wall. Going back to the 2010/11 Ashes, he has only had one good series out of seven and that was in Australia against the substandard Indian attack. The other series have been against England, 113 runs in 7 completed innings average 16, Sri Lanka, 124/4/31, South Africa,70/4/17, New Zealand, 99/3/33, West Indies, 146/6/24 and now SA, 20/3/6. He's kept his place because of that Indian series and the lack of young batsmen coming through. However, it's really time Aus bit the bullet and gave some younger players a chance. Clarke needs players who will get better, not veterans going downhill, with back-to-back Ashes series coming up.

  • Brett on November 25, 2012, 21:42 GMT

    I think on the basis of his Shield form this season (which was infinitely better than Hughes and Khawaja) and his record Punter deserves to see out the summer and see what transpires after that. If he does nothing then bring Hughes or Khawaja in for India and the Ashes but I have a feeling he will get some scores and it will be a moot point. Hughes and Khawaja need to make more hundreds I think to force him out yet

  • Peter on November 25, 2012, 20:16 GMT

    Great batsman though Ponting is, I think it'll be in the interests of the Aussies to look to the future. The obvious decline in Ponting's batting in recent years is how he struggles early in his innings. I still think he's capable of scoring runs once he gets in, but against quality bowlers early on, he does look poor. It wouldn't be an excuse to pick Ponting just because no other batsman is banging on the door for selection, but while Clarke and a few others are carrying him in this series, the Aussies should look to the future. I can't see Ponting retiring from Test cricket on his own terms, but it's time for Australia to get ruthless. Would be sad to see him go though - a truly great player.

  • Dummy4 on November 25, 2012, 19:23 GMT

    Surprising how two great batsmen are experiencing similar problems. Ponting for Australia and Tendulkar for India. Between them they hold awesome records but their moons are waning. There are other players waiting to assume the mantle and perhaps Ponting and Tendulkar should reassess their positions and make the right decisions. But cricket will always be grateful to these two giants that blazed the trail.

  • Dummy4 on November 25, 2012, 16:21 GMT

    These are great players that we are talking about - test cricket is not just about statistics; mere presence of players of Ponting and SRT's calibre in the dressing room is enough to pep a side up; yes, they are not doing well now in terms of scoring runs, but a lean patch can come to anyone - be it 25 or 40 yr old... they bring a lot more to the table... often their wisdom and coaching/mentoring skills are not appreciated by arm chair 'experts'. It is a pity, really...

  • Dru on November 25, 2012, 14:15 GMT

    As far as I am concerned the main reason Ponting is in the side is to score runs to win the series and after two tests he has hardly looked like bat to ball let alone making runs. His three dismissals have been shocking - almost like a lower order batter. I think Ponting needs to consider what he is trying to achieve here - I dont see how the Ashes can be a reasonable prospect when his only runs have been against India last summer - that's not really saying much when your upagainst quality pace of Anderson and Steyn and co. I am afraid the writing is begining to appear on the wall for Ponting.

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