May 13, 2010

Ian Chappell rates Ponting higher than Waugh

Cricinfo staff

Former Australian captain turned commentator Ian Chappell has rated Ricky Ponting a better leader than Steve Waugh. Chappell said Ponting has managed to keep Australia competitive even after losing star players, while Waugh, who had high-class players at his disposal for most of his captaincy career, struggled when challenged.

"I think out of the last four Australian captains, Steve Waugh runs fourth in my book. I have got Mark Taylor, Ricky Ponting and Allan Border…" Chappell told Harsha Bhogle on Cricinfo's Opening Up. "I think Ponting is a bit conservative with his field placings for my liking, but when you think of the turnover... in the case of Warne and Glenn McGrath, two champion bowlers. He has had an enormous turnover of that level of players, and yet he has still kept Australia competitive."

In 2009, Ponting became the first Australian captain since Billy Murdoch in the 19th century to lose the Ashes twice. But Chappell said he did not rate captains by their win-loss records and that Ponting fared better than Waugh when on the back foot. "The reason why I don't rank Steve Waugh very highly is because I think he ran out of ideas pretty quickly. He didn't have to run out of ideas quickly very often, because he wasn't under the pump very often. But I saw him run out of ideas. Kolkata, for instance, in 2001... I have never seen Ricky Ponting run out of ideas."

Imran Khan, Mike Gatting and Arjuna Ranatunga were other captains Chappell said he admired. Mike Brearley, the England captain famous for his tactical nous but not his cricketing talent, was not on Chappell's list. "I think I would say about Mike Brearley that I always thought it was hard enough to win a game when you are playing 11 v 11. Why are you going into the game with 10 v 11?"

Ranatunga's mettle was proved not only at the 1996 World Cup but also when Sri Lanka were clearly the weaker side, Chappell said. "I saw him in a game at Bellerive Oval where he was outgunned. fact, Australia really only won the game on the final day in the last session, when they were the only team who were going to win from three and a half days on. But Arjuna kept that side in the game for much longer than they had any right to be."

Chappell said captaining a side was harder today because of the different formats and the interaction with the media, but he said captains today were not doing right by prioritising boundary-saving over wicket-taking and by delegating match-turning decisions to their team-mates. "My order of priority is wickets, way up there, right at the top by miles; saving singles next, quite a distance down; and then, way down, saving boundaries."

Chappell pointed at South Africa as a side that placed a premium on boundary-saving. "The idea with South African captaincy basically is, if you've got a couple of quickies, use them, and then you've got these seamers to hold things tight in between times till your real quickies are ready to come back again. So I think they place too high a store on containment, whereas I like captains who are always trying to get the opposition out."