Australia news March 31, 2011

Ponting must stay at number three - Mickey Arthur


No one is saying he is after the job, but if Mickey Arthur were coach of Australia he would keep Ricky Ponting at No. 3 in the Test batting line-up. Arthur, who has been informally sought by Cricket Australia as a potential consultant at the Centre of Excellence in addition to his coaching job with Western Australia, is adamant that Ponting should be left in his customary batting position after handing over the captaincy to Michael Clarke.

"I'm of the opinion he should stay at No. 3," Arthur told ESPNCricinfo. "I still think he's the best in that position, we saw that in the World Cup game [against India], but it will be interesting to see where he ends up. If I was coaching I'd want him at three."

Ponting and Michael Hussey will travel to Bangladesh with the Australia squad on Monday despite their advancing years, and Arthur argued it was vital they both be retained in the Test team for the unenviable task of back-to-back Test tours of Sri Lanka and South Africa later this year. According to Arthur, Ponting will be unburdened by the absence of a leadership role.

"I think it [not being captain] will free him up now. Australia still needs him to bat, they need Ponting and Hussey with a good crop of young players now," Arthur said. "The time is right to look at those young players and to build a team for 2013 [the Ashes] and the next World Cup. Michael Clarke's got an opportunity now to put his stamp on the team and he needs to do that.

"But he can only do that with guys like Ricky and Michael [Hussey] giving the younger players some experience. Touring Sri Lanka and South Africa are two of the toughest tours you can have. That [back-to-back tours] is a very, very tough gig."

The long road towards Ponting's abdication arguably began when the South Africa team coached by Arthur and captained by Graeme Smith toppled Australia in 2008-09, the first time Australia had lost any series at home since 1993. Smith regarded Ponting as his role model, something that became ever more apparent, Arthur said, the longer he led his country.

"They were very similar in the way they went about it. Both always liked leading from the front, and I know Graeme towards the back-end of his tenure took a lot of inspiration from Ricky. Even though their battles were very fierce I know Graeme respected him highly and always regarded him as almost the ultimate.

"I think Ricky will go down as one of the best ever. He had a fantastic time and was a fantastic leader, and I certainly know in the South Africa dressing room, he had a huge amount of respect. I think he's done it well, the time was right for him and he's gone out on his own terms."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andrew on April 3, 2011, 10:12 GMT

    @popcorn - I think Punter needs to accept that the lightening fast reflexes of his youth are that minute bit slower now. He needs to have a look at how Border adjusted his game by dropping down the order & he needs to look to Sachin to see he needs to shelve the pull/hook shot until he is well set. I believe he has heaps to give the Test team AND to Pup, but he is best dropping down the order & we find someone to fill #3. Watson is the best choice but that would mean tinkering with a player who is doing well. Khawaja is the obvious current choice. I think Oz may need to consider playing 3 openers in the top 3, - it may mean Khawaja may have to come in lower down the order.

  • Rajaram on April 1, 2011, 9:52 GMT

    Till the time Ricky Ponting plays Test Cricket, I agree that he should play at No.3. He is the best batsman in the world at that position.When he retires, Usman Khawaja hould bat at No.3. He has shown excellent temperament when he batted at No.3 in his debut Test match against the Poms in the SCG Test. More importantly I think Michael Clarke should go back to his No.5 position where he has scored the most runs.It is not mandatory that the Captain should bat at No.3 - Mark Taylor opened the innings,Steve Waugh batted at No.5.Callum Ferguson at No.4 or 6,Mike Hussey at No.6 or 4,Haddin at No.7,Johnson at No.8.Then the tail - a mix of fast bowlers and spinners.

  • Harvey on April 1, 2011, 4:23 GMT

    They can't keep delaying the inevitable. They are losing games already so what does it matter if they blood some new players? If they lose, we wont notice

  • cric on April 1, 2011, 3:36 GMT

    Captainship is not about tossing a coin, setting fields and changing bowlers. It is about being the heart and soul of the team. It is about caring for your teammates whether they are doing well or not. It is about protecting your players from the harsh comments of the media and supporting them when they are not doing so well. It is about putting the team ahead of your personal likes and disklikes. It is about bonding with each player to bring out the best in them. It is about dealing with pressure and not letting it get to you or the team. It is about thinking one step ahead of the game and be fully aware of the game situation at all times. It is about thinking out of the box and taking risks if required to win the match. Ponting did none of that. He was a brilliant player who had to opportunity to lead some of the best cricketers of the era but a brilliant captain he was not. Stats don't tell you the whole story. They should have removed him from captaincy long time back.

  • Andrew on April 1, 2011, 0:10 GMT

    @Sanj747 - 1 agree with you re: Huss & MJ, but not about your reasons. MJ is a genuine match winner & if he can get his groove back will Oz matches AND series. I wouldn't of taken Huss to Bangladesh - probably wouldn't play him in ODIs anymore, but I think he may be very important in Sth Africa & at home against India. I don't rate Siddle at all as a Short Form bowler. Siddle is a Test bowler, he is not particularly skilful, but he gives 101% ALL day, no matter what the score is. That counts for something. Personally I think Copeland will exceed Siddle easily & should tour SL in the starting XI! @Winsome - I agree 100% in terms of a tour to Bangladesh - why bring Huss & Punter? In tests I think the bringing of new players into the side needs to be more steady. @Rahul_78 - its ODIs not Tests!!!!!

  • Michael on March 31, 2011, 23:24 GMT

    2 point: First, I thought it was the Captain, not the coach, who decided the batting order. At least, that's what Ponting indicated in his press conference; Second, who are these 'younger guys' that need mentoring from Ponting and Hussey? Clarke, Watson and Haddin are all 30 and have been playing for 8-10 years (domestically and internationally). There are a couple of 21-22 year olds in the Test side but the rest of the batting order has been playing for long enough that they don't need 3 (count them, three!) 35+ year olds. And neither Ponting nor Hussey are in a position to help out the bowlers.

  • Dummy4 on March 31, 2011, 22:35 GMT

    Aust test team should be in batting order: Katich, Hughes, Watson, Ponting, Clarke, M Hussey and Hadden. Then the bowlers Hilfenhaus (but only just), Johnson (In Perth anyway and selectors seem to love him), Copeland and then probably Pick a spinner, any spinner Lets go for........Doherty (Would love to see him bowl on a spin friendly track, not Brisbane and WACA where he bowled without luck and a flat bed Adelaide track). Then Bollinger and Khawaja in the mix for 12th man.

  • Dummy4 on March 31, 2011, 22:31 GMT

    To all you guys saying we have to sack the older players so the younger players can be groomed....... what happens when they're finally groomed? They're old enough to drop for the next generation! Sure, we've got to be slotting in the next generation of players, but it has to be a dynamic thing, where they have the experienced older players to learn from. And older players who have proved their immense worth are exactly the ones we want to keep around for this purpose. Get rid of Ponting and Hussey, and where will the young guys learn about grit? Clarkey?

  • Sanjay on March 31, 2011, 19:48 GMT

    An opportunity has been missed. Agree with leaving Ponting in the team. I would have left Hussey out and look to start the re-building. I would also have left Mitchell Johnson out. Johnson simply does not deserve his place. Peter Siddle should be in his place. We can't start re-building until we re-build the selectors.

  • Rahul on March 31, 2011, 17:47 GMT

    What decides no 3 position? Someone who is not afraid to face the new ball, can cope with pressure and try and help the team out of a difficult position. For a youngster coming into the side, that would be added pressure. I for one believe that youngsters should be slotted in when the pressure isn't that high(first wicket down after 100+ run). Ponting has been there for donkey years to do this role perfectly. He can guide youngsters from that position, especially if new openers are being tried too. Think according to the situation, no3 or no4 should be treated similarly whilst grooming youngsters.

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