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Filling the Ponting void

Daniel Brettig

December 10, 2012

Comments: 47 | Text size: A | A

Ed Cowan ventures to the Australian Open golf, Sydney, December 7, 2012
Like Ricky Ponting, Ed Cowan ventured to the Australian Open golf tournament between Tests © Getty Images
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Australia's Test team convened without Ricky Ponting in Hobart on Monday evening. Barring reasons of injury or personal leave, this is the first time such a state of affairs has existed since 1999.

The space left by Ponting will be felt as much in the dressing room as out in the middle, for while his run-making trailed off badly towards the end, his contribution to the team's development as a mentor and example was seldom stronger.

Phillip Hughes occupies Ponting's place on the team sheet, but all will be expected to take up the considerable hole left by his presence. Apart from the captain Michael Clarke, the most senior members of the squad to play at Bellerive are Michael Hussey, Shane Watson and Mitchell Johnson.

Their insights and examples will be critical to younger team-mates, and so too will the personal experience of Ed Cowan. Having benefited greatly from the time he spent around Ponting both before and after his elevation to the national team, Cowan will now be expected to show that example.

"It's an odd situation in that one of the guys that has been inked into the top order, but more so inked into the culture of the change room, will be missing," Cowan told ESPNcricinfo. "So there are two ways to look at it. One is to reminisce and think what a hole he's going to leave. The other side of the coin is that it's an opportunity for guys to step up, not only as players but as leaders around the change room, and that's an opportunity for a number of guys to combine together and try to fill the void of his presence.

"I think cultures evolve, and the culture of this team has evolved since Michael's taken the captaincy, so it's a question of guys being willing like Ricky was to give of themselves to the team like no other. Put the team first, play to win, and make sure the change rooms are a better place when the next person steps into it. A massive loss off the field, but the identity of this team has been growing since Michael took over the captaincy, and that growth's been pretty evident in the results."

That those results did not culminate in a series victory over South Africa was down to a major malfunction at Nos. 3 and 4 in the batting order - of which Ponting was of course a part - the toll of three Tests on the hosts' bowlers, and the resilience of the seasoned visitors. Cowan enjoyed a productive series personally, making his first Test century and looking comfortable at other times, but the most resounding lessons of the series were of the five-day game's unremitting nature.

"From a team point of view it was a great lesson that Test series are exactly that," Cowan said. "It's not one or two days of really decent cricket, to beat the best you have to be consistent for 15 days. As a group we felt as though we dominated them for eight or nine days of the series, maybe had points decisions on two or three days and only lost two or three days to them, and you end up losing the series. So it was a great lesson for us that the great teams soak up pressure when they have to and have an ability to really nail you when they have that momentum.

"They were due to have a good day. That was in the back of everyone's mind that they'd been pounded and pounded and pounded and yet it showed 0-0, and it took a toll on our bowlers a bit more with both quicks sitting out [Perth]. So we were up against it when our top three quicks were all unavailable for what was a grand final, so it was always going to be hard work. We had our opportunity after day one with the bat to really nail them and we didn't take it, then with the ball we let things slip, and in a matter of hours the series was prettymuch gone.

"Having said that, deep down we knew we gave it a massive shake. The best team in the world had come here with the intention of proving how good they were, and we flexed a few muscles and showed how good we were over the course of the series, but didn't come away with the biscuits."

Ponting's retirement and its associated melancholy appeared to add a mental toll to the physical strain evident after the sapping conclusion to the Adelaide Test. Cowan said the start of a new series would allow the start of a new and fresh chapter, without anything like the pathos that enveloped Australia at the WACA ground - there will certainly be fewer tears shed this week, both in private and in public.

"It was tough mentally, and physically because it was a back-to-back Test," Cowan said. "Now we've had a chance to refresh, take stock and move forward. Phil Hughes is coming into the side off a lot of runs and we're pretty confident that everyone can contribute to the team moving forward. We're now missing Australia's greatest modern batsmen, but it's an opportunity for guys to step up. It puts expectation on other guys to fill the void. That's the only way."

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

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Posted by Ragav999 on (December 12, 2012, 15:34 GMT)

@Greatest_Game: If one great bowler is better than no great bowlers and you think the horrifically belted bowlers are so worthy to being picked in a team, why does SA have such a poor win/loss ratio record in the last few years especially at home? They are hanging on to the number one ranking not because they are very superior than all other sides but due to the fact that all other sides are more inconsistent than SA.This SA attack described by Allan Donald as the best ever SA attack has a very poor record of winning Tests in the last few years.

Posted by Meety on (December 12, 2012, 0:46 GMT)

@Glen Low - whilst I know where you are coming from, you do say it is "...not right having debutants at around 27..." - yet applaud Cowan's debut who was basically 30! I think it is about a mix. Hussey was 30 when he debuted for Oz, & many good observers (stats suggest as well), that he was the most complete debutant in Test cricket in decades. I think we still have the hangover of 10 years ago whereby it was real hard work getting close to a baggy green & competitiion for a batting slot was fierce in Shield. So I don't mind some seasoned pro's coming into the team, however with an eye on any youngsters coming thru!

Posted by   on (December 12, 2012, 0:22 GMT)

Its symptomatic of the type of cricket played these days that there is no batsman pressing for selection when Ricky Ponting retired. In years past, Shield games were mini test matches played at high intensity where players who made runs/took wickets were prepared for playing at the highest level. Now we have the BBL where junk cricket is featured on the schedule and shield matches are shunted to the side.

I doubt we will see the volume of test match ready cricketers produced in Australia until the imbalance between junk and first class cricket is corrected. I suspect we will be able to pick a decent first eleven but the depth we had last decade will never reoccur.

Posted by   on (December 11, 2012, 18:12 GMT)

@Glenn Low, what is wrong with making a debut at 27? Mike Hussey and Adam Gilchrist were no spring chickens when they came into the side. Guys like Langer, Hayden and Martyn all came back as much better players in their later 20's than when they first played test cricket. They are some of the very finest batsmen Australia has produced in the last 20 years..... @ZenBoomerang, I agree that runs from a no.4 will help. Everyone has been talking about the top 4, but in reality it has been numbers 3 and 4 that have been letting Australia down. Ponting in both places and Clarke too at no.4 before he became captain and more recently a host of others at no.3. Can hardly point the finger at Cowan or Warner after they both made centuries against SA, Cowans in particular turned the match around in Brisbane.

Posted by Greatest_Game on (December 11, 2012, 14:50 GMT)

Oh dear - Simoc has got my mate Marcio all bent out of shape. C'mon Marcio, its just a conversation. It really is not the end of the world if SA has a better attack than Aus! Just look at it logically. All that "horrific belting around" did not stop the SA attack from crushing the Aus batting in the 3rd test. And all the "not being horrifically belted around" simply wore out the flimsy Aus attack, so much so that it had to be replaced for the 3rd test.

So the bowlers who were "horrifically belted around" ended up winning the series, and the bowlers who were not "horrifically "belted around could not even manage 3 tests because they were completely worn out by not being "horrifically belted around."

In that case, it would seem Simoc's is the sensible choice. Take the attack that can WIN matches, not the attack than gets worn out by not winning matches. Besides, one great bowler is always better than no great bowlers!

Cheers

Posted by Andross on (December 11, 2012, 13:58 GMT)

Gee, Cowan speaks well. They should appoint him official speaker of the team. XD

Posted by   on (December 11, 2012, 12:09 GMT)

Let Ponting's shadow leaves the Australian change room for good. His pursuit of Ashes legacy has delayed induction of fresh faces in the Australian team has damaged the cricket. They could have drawn or won the South Africa test series. The brighter days of Australian cricket will come quicker if they forget the past and focus on present.

Posted by   on (December 11, 2012, 11:37 GMT)

Australia needs to get their act together and within the next decade change their system, its not right having debutants at around 27. These are suppose to be your future players and captains! I reckon Watson should be moved down the order if he wants to bowl, while Hussey/Clarke moved up. Australia are doing well with their bowlers, great to see Johnson back in action, the youth of the quicks and the benefits of investing in Nathan Lyon/Ed Cowan.

Posted by   on (December 11, 2012, 8:04 GMT)

Only clarke and hussey are in form for the aussies so the lankan bowling unit should capitalise on that-the sri lankan bastmen had a poor run in SL , but they should draw heart from the fact that they are a experienced unit with players like Dilshan,Sam,Sanga ,Mahela,Prasanna so the batting unit has the talent and the depth to challenge the aussie bowling machine-but the bowlers have to be able to take 20wickets to win the test thats what i fear..

Posted by   on (December 11, 2012, 6:49 GMT)

you need some one with no technical infirmites to open the innings or bat at no 3. Warner, Hughes, watson have improved their batting but not good enough to bat at no 3 or open as these are special roles and need some one with sound technique to bat. I feel cosgrove or doolan or fergusson should get a look in against the likes of Sl and India. May be have hussey play at no 3 and have fergusson play at 6, certainly not hughes and warner. the teams that have dominated world cricket have all had some amazing opening and no 3. west indies of the 80's had greenidge haynes and viv richards, aussies of the early 90's had taylor-slater , Boon.M waughr,and the aussies of the mid 90's - 2008 had hayden-Langer and ponting.the top 3 can morally drain the life of the bowlers with their sheer resistance at the crease. Even teams which had sucess at the top for a transient time like india and england had top 4 firing. cook-strauss-trott, Gambhir-shewag -dravid

Posted by zenboomerang on (December 11, 2012, 6:25 GMT)

This team is starting to remind me a bit of the late '80s teams - lots of young & new players coming into the team, the old man of the team, Border in his early 30's... Steve Waugh taking 27 Tests to make his first century - so I think we should give our young guys a chance to prove themselves before being publicly condemned (if at all)...

Posted by zenboomerang on (December 11, 2012, 6:24 GMT)

Not sure there is any void in the Oz team post-Ponting... Maybe in the dressing room, but his use to the team as a batsman (except India Test series) has been poor for a number of years... If anything, as long as the new batsman gets a few runs (50's), he will be a bonus to the team & shore up what has been a weak top 4 over recent times...

Posted by   on (December 11, 2012, 5:55 GMT)

After 17 tests, Hughes has an average of 34.58, which is unusually low for a top order batsman. I love it that the selectors are picking someone who is scoring runs in first class cricket, but others such as Usman Khawaja should be given another chance - when he played for Australia, he was only given 6 tests, which isn't really enough to stamp your authority. It is evident that Phil Hughes has a technical deficiency and I don't think he should be allowed to play test cricket until it has been fixed. Plus, Khawaja showed much more promise in the test arena.

Posted by hycIass on (December 11, 2012, 5:41 GMT)

Khawaja is a must for the Ashes after Ponting's retirement.

Australian batting order should really look like this when ashes comes around: opening- shane watson: bats better opening opening- David Warner: most time gets the team a start in no time doesn't matter if its just 20 runs first drop - Hughes or Cowan depending on who does better this series number 4- usman khawaja: best batsman of swing bowling in the country given all his high scores this year in shield have come on batting minefields number 5- micheal clarke : stats speak for themselfs at this position for clarke number 6- micheal hussey: mr crick loves batting at 6 always gets us out of trouble situation number 7- matthew wade: keeper position has been for years number 8-james Pattinson: best bat out of bowlers number 9- Siddle number 10- patick cummins: alright with bat but not as good as starc and pattinson number 11- nathan lyo and Starc depending on pitc

Posted by disco_bob on (December 11, 2012, 5:22 GMT)

Let's not get too maudlin about this, it's not as if great players don't retire. He's left, we've had all the tribute articles, let's move on already, we didn't get this much sorrow when Warney and McGrath retired. Looking forward to Hughes stepping up a notch or two, we are going to need something special from him if we are not to get hammered in England next year.

Posted by Cantbowlcantbat on (December 11, 2012, 3:53 GMT)

Sinhaya, that's what worries me. With all due respect, this is a weak SL side and I fear that fringe players like Hughes will make plenty of runs, which will be a misleading guide to how they'll fare against the Poms. I'd rather Hughes played against the Saffers to see whether he really has improved.

Posted by CricFan2121 on (December 11, 2012, 3:44 GMT)

What I'd like to know is how the Aussies always find a captain that appears to get *better* as a player once he is appointed captain. I feel that this happened with Ponting. Seems to be happening with Clarke (2 200's in a row against RSA; are you kidding me?). Also appeared to happen with Border, Steve Waugh...and perhaps Mark Taylor as well.

Posted by xylo on (December 11, 2012, 3:24 GMT)

That Mitchell Johnson is talked about as a senior is scary. I hope he does not pass on tips to other upcoming bowlers. The Aussie top order is cause for worry though. Watson does not seem to like to bat for long periods, while Warner is an Adelaide (read flat track) star. Until Warner is replaced with a guy of the caliber of Hayden, and a good replacement for Ponting is found, and a quality spinner is found, I would hesitate to give this team a chance. Ed Cowan would do well wearing down attacks and batting for long periods like Cook.

Posted by Chris_P on (December 11, 2012, 0:54 GMT)

@landl47. I agree if there were young batsmen it's worth the risk, then do it, but unfortunately, batting is the one major concern in our short term future. There isn't a young plater who is consistently scoring enough runs to demand selection. Hughes has turned his form around & is trending the right way, the stint in country cricket definitely helped. Khawaja is close, but needs a solid season of consistency. There are plenty of other potential players, but with our shaky batting, we would be doing them a great disservice to select them before time. Solid stints in county cricket is the best direction (IMHO) rather than extended time with T20.

Posted by Meety on (December 10, 2012, 23:50 GMT)

@ davidpk on (December 10 2012, 14:54 PM GMT) - dear oh dear - "... pakistani khawaja..." - pretty weak. Have you perused the recent England development squad in India - had several foreigners, combined with the multiple foreigners in the main side, I hardly think you have an inch of ground - but I do understand your meds may have run out! @ Sinhaya on (December 10 2012, 16:35 PM GMT) - don't sell your guys too short. I think if SL gets their batsmen firing & put some scoreboard pressure on, they stand a good chance. Also - if Hobart dishes up an encore from last year v NZ, the match ends up being a bit of a lottery - which COULD work in your sides favour. I agree re: Hughes, in a high tech world where video footage is so heavily scrutinised, I find it impossible to think that Hughes wasn't a known factor in 2009 in Sth Africa. The fact he combatted Steyn, should mean with all the right support & informed advice - he should succeed.

Posted by bonobo on (December 10, 2012, 22:52 GMT)

Its not one for the future, but the man I think has the best to perform in English conditions at number 3, Chris Rogers. Hughes has worked at his game and if the selectors can see that his technqiue which was serioulsy lacking, has seen the necessary revision then its a good choice. But I am not convinced, if that was the case, he wouldnt have played in the last series. he always has the shots to make runs, but I am thinking Sri Lanka and India might not be much of a test before England. Why are Australia so detrmined to overlook proven jorneymen such as Rogers, D Hussey, Cosgrove, Voges and White. They have scored stacks in England. For England and Aus, the Ashes is our World Cup,...i know as an England fan, I am not looking being next winters trip down under, until the series is won or lost

Posted by Shaggy076 on (December 10, 2012, 22:34 GMT)

Front-Foot_Lunge; your pathetic comments are getting tiring. The last 18 tests Australia have won 9, drawn 6 and lost 3. Its not a bad record. Yes there could have easily been a couple of wins against South Africa but no other team has beaten them recently. We have lost 3 tests in 18 matches, England lost three in a row to South Africa/India recently and yes we have played both these teams. We are no longer as dominnt as we were but no push over. If this is the worst Australia cricket has reached then its really not that bad.

Posted by Jaffa79 on (December 10, 2012, 22:23 GMT)

Hughes to score runs against a modest Sri Lankan bowling line up, Johnson to get some wickets and cracks to be papered over for another 6 months before the grim realisation that they don't have the technique or consistency for Test cricket.

Posted by tomtom100 on (December 10, 2012, 21:44 GMT)

I dont think australia is on the right track.I think half their top order suffer from obvious technical deficiency and this will be ruthlessly exposed next year.Expect some very low scores in england.

Posted by wellrounded87 on (December 10, 2012, 20:40 GMT)

@Ian Jones Apparently you haven't been following Hughes in sheffield shield. He has improved his technique a lot and fixed a lot of the flaws that had him prone to nicking through to the slips

Posted by SICHO on (December 10, 2012, 19:16 GMT)

With this crippled Oz batting line-up and the unfit bowling "depth". SL might have a chance to get away with 1st win in Oz here. None of the Oz bowling "depth" can replace any bowler in our attack, Saffa attack. Hastings (reminded me of Indian "fast" bowlers), the trio-of-unfitness (Harris, Cummins, Pattinson), the unvenomous duo of Hilfenhous and Siddle (only effective when batsmen are tired), Starc hasn't played enough Tests to be considered good enough, Hazlewood is yet to play a test. What a good bowling "depth". I'm keen to see the Ozzies in England.

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (December 10, 2012, 17:46 GMT)

To be honest, Australia will struggle over the next 2 to 3 years. I can't see them winning the Ashes any time soon with such a mediocre batting line up and average bowling attack. Only SA and ENG are genuine test teams going around presently. Australia's major problem is that they are no longer running their cricket in the 'Australian way'. In the past, tough decisions used to be taken with regards to player management and future planning. I don't see that any more in spite of having full time paid selectors as well as the captain along for the ride. Now it's more about how it's BAD to remove a senior player. In some ways, they are behaving like the Indian team management. Absolutely ZERO planning by the Aussies. Forget Ponting's replacement, what about Hussey's replacement ? Do we have anybody in sight ? NO !

Posted by Peterincanada on (December 10, 2012, 16:56 GMT)

Some people just love to put down players of other countries and use very weak arguements to do so. Young players are not necessarily found out by bowlers. Gooch debuted with a pair against Lillee and Thomson and had some bad days later against Alderman. He managed to learn enough from those experiences to right the ship and have a fine career. Hayden was supposedly found out early but soved his issues. Personally, I wish Hughes and Khawaja every success.

Posted by Sinhaya on (December 10, 2012, 16:35 GMT)

I think it is worth giving Phil Hughes another chance at test level. As a Lankan, I wish to say that against our average bowling attack, Hughes should cash in and also try to do well in India next year. Then he will be confident at the Ashes next year. I think he has something in him if he did well in SA in the 2009 tour.

Posted by   on (December 10, 2012, 16:20 GMT)

@Dr. Vindaloo, lmao! @Davidpk, there are indeed some very tenous links, that one hangs by the merest of threads you'd have to think. @D-Brah, i'm with you. Hard to recall an Aussie team half filled with players aged 25 years or younger with more to come, gives them plenty of scope to grow into a great side and then dominate for an extended period.

Posted by Dr.Vindaloo on (December 10, 2012, 15:42 GMT)

Aussie cricketers rarely let an interview go by without a reference to the 'change room'. Well done Ed for upholding a rich tradition.

Posted by DylanBrah on (December 10, 2012, 15:31 GMT)

I see this as an exciting time for Australia. With Ponting gone, Hussey getting on with his days, Watson so injury prone (and underperforming), and uncertainty at the top of the order, it is time for the young blood to put their hand up. Plenty of spots in the test team to go around if you are performing in the SS. Look for guys like Joe Burns to have cracking second halves of the season. Don't think we will be seeing anymore 30 year old journeyman like Quiney. Time for the next generation.

Posted by endofageofaquarius on (December 10, 2012, 15:10 GMT)

Ponting - One of the all time greats, no doubt about that. It was always a pleasure to watch him bat.And I have to say that enjoyed watching him bat more than I did Tendulkar or Lara. On parr with Inzi in terms of how much time he had as he saw the ball so very very early. He will be missed. (A Pakistan Fan)

Posted by bumsonseats on (December 10, 2012, 14:54 GMT)

looking at the latter posters since i posted the pakistani khawaja maybe the 1 but hes not getting the chance. he was found wanting against england during the last ashes but so were your ones who are now classed the best 2 players clarke and hussey.he should have been stood by to and see if he could come out the other side the better for it. not sure what paul collingwood piece in a uk paper has anything to with the #3 position in the Australian test side but there you go, each to his own

Posted by   on (December 10, 2012, 14:32 GMT)

Simoc: Hughes is no good at test cricket, his technique is awful and he has the wrong mindset for Test cricket. England found him out pretty quickly and every other country has used the same plans to him, and he hasn't adapted.

Posted by landl47 on (December 10, 2012, 14:31 GMT)

Although of course neither Cowan nor anyone else is going to say it, there might also be a slight feeling of relief that a batsman who averaged 6.4 in the SA series isn't going to be walking out at #4. Aus needs to get new players into the line-up; Hussey is 37, will be 38 by the time of the next Ashes series and can't go on forever. Watson's production as a batsman has gone down steadily for the last 2 years and an average of 37 with 2 centuries from 36 tests, especially from a player who is 31 and has a long history of injuries, is not where Aus's long-term future lies. Get a couple of younger players in and stick with them, even if the results aren't there for a while

@Simoc: I'm not sure what you've been watching, but in Starc, Cummins, Hazlewood and Pattinson Aus has the best squad of young quicks I've seen for a long time. Give them a few years to mature and they'll be a fearsome attack.

Posted by geedubnz on (December 10, 2012, 13:32 GMT)

Top order of Warner, Cowan, Hughes and Watson is probably the worst Australian top order for 25 years. Clare is the best batsman in the world and Hussey is as good as ever - why are't they batting at 3 and 4, letting Hughes and Watson fill 5 and 6?

Posted by   on (December 10, 2012, 13:28 GMT)

The Aussies are very much on the right track, I feel. The likes of Cowan, Warner, Wade, Hughes, Khawaja etc just need to grow into their roles. They still have a vast amount of experience with Clarke and Hussey to call upon. All thats required is a couple more years experience for some of the rookies like Warner, Wade, Starc, Pattinson, Lyon etc to ensure that their on days are far more regular than their off days, this can only come with experience. And as they always say with Grand Finals, you have to lose one before you can win one and I think this applies very specifically to this young, inexperienced side.

Posted by bumsonseats on (December 10, 2012, 13:25 GMT)

cowen will do the aussies a good job hes the type of ugly opener ( no offence intended ) that most teams need. the like of hughes and to a lesser extent warner are nothing more than T20 players.i watched the game in perth yesterday, hughes plays the same way in all formats of the game warner looks good when its his day. but as time goes by i think he will get less of those days.maybe just doing enough to be selected. and watson is a number 6 batter who on his day will destroy an attack but AUS wants him to bowl more overs than his body will allow. so for me they dont have a # 3 who can come in yet. i await the posters on here to tell me who they feel are the contenders playing state cricket

Posted by Mary_786 on (December 10, 2012, 13:13 GMT)

In Pointing absence we should get both Hughes and Khawaja in the team. Huges and Khawaja are the future prospects for Aussies. Aussies should include them in all test matches so that they could build themselves to be solid batsman for them. Both are highly talented young players if they keep playing for 2 year continuously then they could become more reliable players for Aussies.

Posted by Nilesh_T on (December 10, 2012, 13:03 GMT)

To even talk about Hughes and Cowan as filling the void left by Ponting is like showing the lamp to the sun. No one can fill that gap,the newcomers can only try hard and would be lucky to get anywhere near even 5% of what Ponting's value and contribution to the team was in terms of his class and domination over some of the best bowlers of his times. An era has passed with his retirement,just as with Dravid & VVS for the Indian team which is struggling now in their absence. Hughes may succeed marginally against the pop gun Sri Lankan bowling ,let's see how he stacks up against more hostile attacks. As admitted by Chairman of selectors, he was 'protected' from exposure to South African attack, which in itself says a lot of his skills ( or lack of it) at the highest level. Barring Clarke and Hussey, (and Watson when fully fit ) no world class player left in this team.

Posted by RagTagTeam on (December 10, 2012, 12:53 GMT)

@Simoc I don't see how "There are no great or potential great fast bowlers (maybe Pattinson) in the Oz line up". It's no good that Pattinson and Cummins are out with injury but XXX are looking like excellent talents. Sure Starc had one bad day at the WACA, but he bounced back and took 6 wickets on a flat track, which shows potential. Plus you've got 2 young guys; Cutting and Bird bowling well in SS and dont forget Henriques who is playing excellently as an all-rounder.

Posted by SamRoy on (December 10, 2012, 12:43 GMT)

@Simoc I think both Pattinson and Starc look a bit rough around the edges but will become world class if they can have relatively fit careers. Ryan Harris is a very good bowler. Siddle is a very good trier though not much talent. Ben Hilfenhaus is reliable though not very threatening. It is enough to thrash SL 2-0 provided the batting holds up. I hope SL batting stalwarts (Sangakkara, Jayawardene, Dilshan and Samaraweera) can draw at least one test match. Should be easy as long as Australia doesn't pick bowlers like Hastings :)

Posted by Marcio on (December 10, 2012, 12:42 GMT)

@Simoc, who are you to say what a bowler's potential is? Are you Nostradamus or something. The SA attack has one great bowler, one excellent bowler, one good bowler, and the rest are ordinary or awful. We have much greater depth, and time will tell just how good some of the youngsters are - not you. The SA bowlers failed to fire all tour - till 3 days from the end. They were belted around horrifically at times, even against AUS A. Or did the end bit of the series lead you to forget that?

Posted by Simoc on (December 10, 2012, 12:02 GMT)

Lets hope Hughes does well. He should not have been dropped in the first place. The Oz selectors then were on par with the current NZ administration. Hopeless. Australia will be expected to beat Sri Lanka so now the pressure is on us. Oz took 20 wickets in the last test which the supposed best guys had failed to do. There are no great or potential great fast bowlers (maybe Pattinson) in the Oz line up. Given the choice we'de take the South African attack every time. But the potential is there for someone to excel and this attack has plenty of upside.

Posted by Trapper439 on (December 10, 2012, 11:58 GMT)

Ponting staying around as long as he did was a net positive for Australian cricket.

Sure, he didn't amass runs in awesome numbers like he did earlier in his career, but his mere presence in the dressing room gave the younger players an example of what it means to wear the baggy green. He's hopefully passed on the legacy that goes back to when Border turned things around during the '80s.

Posted by Front-Foot_lunge on (December 10, 2012, 11:56 GMT)

Just as Paul 'I run out injured kiwi batsmen" Collingwood in his tedious column over here in the UK papers, always talked about 'taking positives', Cowan's always taking about 'learning lessons'. Well, at what point does this learning translate into action on the pitch?

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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