Australia news February 21, 2012

Sutherland defends handling of Ponting axing


Cricket Australia's chief executive James Sutherland has defended the selectors for abruptly ending Ricky Ponting's one-day international career mid-series. Ponting was axed from the squad after playing the first five matches of the tri-series and could have been given a home farewell - Australia's next game is in Hobart on Friday - but instead has made way immediately.

Ponting said on Tuesday that despite his poor run of form in one-day cricket he had not seen the decision coming, but that he accepted that the national selector John Inverarity and his panel were looking to the future. Sutherland, however, said that Ponting, at 37, would have known that a long lean patch would leave him at risk of being dropped, and that players were not always able to leave on their own terms.

"I don't know many players that aren't disappointed when they get dropped," Sutherland said. "That's just the facts of the matter. I don't think you should ... have any misunderstanding about where Ricky knew he was up to. I think to a certain extent that's inevitable at the age and stage he's at in his career. Players know that. They would know it in their own subconscious mind. But I can assure you he also knew that from [former chairman of selectors] Andrew Hilditch and he also knew that from John Inverarity.

"The selectors have to make a decision without fear or favour that is in the best interest of Australian cricket. They've made that decision. Not everyone will agree with that but they've made that decision and that's their job to do that."

Ponting's one-day form might have forced the selectors to make the tough call but his Test form remains strong, and he will play on for Australia in the baggy green. That means Ponting will need to return to state cricket, having played only six Sheffield Shield matches for Tasmania over the past decade, in order to maintain his fitness and touch between Australia's Test series.

The Tigers have two Shield matches remaining this summer and still remain in contention for the final, which could give Ponting three games ahead of the Test tour of the West Indies in April. Ponting's presence will mean that a younger batsman will miss out on exposure to state cricket but Sutherland said that was outweighed by the benefits Ponting would bring to his less experienced colleagues.

"The right players going back to Shield cricket is fantastic for Shield cricket," Sutherland said. "There is no doubt that Ricky Ponting is the right player to be going back to Shield cricket. The influence he's had on young Australian players this summer ... the example he sets but also the conscious effort he takes to mentor players and talk about his preparation, I think the Tasmanian cricket team is incredibly fortunate to have his presence for the next couple of Shield games and however long it goes from there."

Ponting will end his one-day international career having played 375 matches and scored 13,704 runs, comfortably Australia's most capped player and most prolific run scorer. Sutherland said his 17-year ODI career, which included triumphs in World Cups and Champions Trophies, as well as captaining more ODI victories than any other player, had been unparalleled.

"I think his career is incomparable in one-day cricket: five World Cups, four finals, three championships and two as captain, plus all the runs and special feats in the field," Sutherland said. "I just can't think of a player that has made a greater contribution and been a better one-day cricketer, particularly in the big moments."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on February 24, 2012, 0:11 GMT

    'He should have got a tap on the should and been told "You have 4 games left. You can tell people you are retiring because you want to focus on tests."' -exactly. There was a pretty easy middle ground to find here. It's a shame they didn't consider this option.

  • Peter on February 23, 2012, 2:02 GMT

    While it Ponting's axing was a bit of a shock to me I can certainly see some merit in it and admire the selectors for making the tough calls. I don't think there is room for baggage in international cricket, and unlike in the test arena Ponting can well and truly be seen as keeping other players out of the team by remaining in the ODI setup.

    Other Aussie international players got tribute or testimonial matches on retirement. Perhaps Ponting could have something similar? Who can forget the Allan Border Tribute Match at the end of his career? A nice lighthearted celebration of a career with international greats. I'd love to see it again, but then again perhaps I am sentimental.

  • joseph on February 22, 2012, 12:07 GMT

    I would like to see the same with Tendulkar, but we have the soft corner when dealing with our heroes

  • Roo on February 22, 2012, 11:27 GMT

    Why does Ponting deserve a finale when he couldn't see the writing on the wall?... Sure if he had said to the selectors that this is my final game the day before, but not even the great players of the 2,000's let the selectors know about their retirement until right up to that last game - just in case the selectors thought to try out some new players... AB & Healy never got a send-off game, so what makes Ponting any more special?... Too many living in dreamland on this thread...

  • jake on February 22, 2012, 11:23 GMT

    What have sutherland or inverarity ever done for cricket in australia? Nothing compared to Ricky Ponting! Now all players can expect the same treatment if not constantly firing? Or was Ricky just deemed too old? and to farkin, that lame duck gave me immense pleasure this summer, he deserves much more than these kind of stupid statements. His fielding for one has been great to watch let alone his enthusiasm and input in team morale. Something that is an important part of the australian team and will be missed in the future I bet! Things that cannot be seen by the negative neigh sayers unfortunately. Thanks for the memories Ricky!

  • Richard on February 22, 2012, 9:37 GMT

    I am disgusted at the treatment of Ponting, dropping him before he plays at his home game?? I would have been attending both of the Hobart games with a lot of my mates but after this we will not and im sure there are a lot of other people in the same boat!

  • far on February 22, 2012, 2:12 GMT

    you can only carry a lame duck so far

  • P on February 22, 2012, 2:09 GMT

    The assumption made by Mr Sutherland and the NSP, that Ponting knew his status and impending dismissal from the Australian ODI team is clearly at odds with Ponting's unawareness. Please explain what "They would know it in their own subconscious mind" means exactly and how it relates to a conscious awareness. It is up to Mr Sutherland and the NSP to communicate clearly. They are there to serve the players and the public. In this instance, perhaps a discussion could have been held with Ponting a match or two earlier, informing him of the NSPs intentions if he did not perform. Instead, you are out Ponting, not rested sic, but dropped! But what the hell, what's the difference? I think it must be hard on players to perform with a noose around their necks. Time will tell.

  • Andrew on February 22, 2012, 1:22 GMT

    I just couldn't care less what Sutherland has to say on the matter!

  • Merv on February 22, 2012, 0:34 GMT

    Pity that there are no players any better now they have dropped Ponting. The guy averages 100 in the last Test series and gets dropped for the ODSs?

  • No featured comments at the moment.