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Ashes or bust for Ponting

Daniel Brettig

February 21, 2012

Comments: 56 | Text size: A | A

Contrasting emotions for Ricky Ponting and Andrew Strauss, Australia v England, 4th Test, Melbourne, 4th day, December 29, 2010
Ricky Ponting still hopes for Ashes redemption © Getty Images
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Ricky Ponting is not afraid of failing in his attempt to go to England for a final tilt at the Ashes in 2013, and has made it clear that he will go on playing Test cricket for Australia for as long as he possibly can.

A summary dismissal from the ODI team has provided Ponting, 37, with the sharp reminder that he will have to perform or perish. But he gave every indication he would go on in Test cricket for as long as possible, even if it meant the end may come in similar circumstances to those Ponting found himself in at the SCG, answering questions the day after the national selector John Inverarity's phone call.

"I've always been of the belief that I don't mind people trying things and failing. That's the way I'm looking at it as well," Ponting said. "I tried my best over the last five games to be the best player I could be and to win games of cricket for Australia, unfortunately I couldn't do that and I failed, and I've been dropped from the one-day side.

"To tell the honest truth I didn't really see this coming either, I had no communication from the selectors that it might've happened through this series, but it's my job as an international batsman to score runs and I haven't done that in the last few games.

"Only if it ends badly [can I be too proud], but I'm backing myself to finish the game and finish my career on a high, I don't want to finish on a low, and I'll make the right decision at the right time, there's no doubt about that.

"It'd be great to get back to the Ashes. If I'm a good enough player to do that then it'd be great to go back there one more time and hopefully have a few better memories of England than what I've had the last couple of tours. Everybody is [after redemption], as far as Ashes cricket is concerned."

Ponting faced his first day as a Test-match-only concern with typical frankness and a level outlook. He said he had not considered retirement from the game upon losing his ODI place, but had pondered how he might manage his time now that he will not have the benefit of limited-overs series to keep him sharp between Test assignments.

There is the chance that fewer international matches will keep Ponting fresher and more focused for those he does play, leaving him more time to spend with a young family, while also helping to mentor the next generation in the Sheffield Shield.

"It could do that [prolong my Test career], there's two ways you can look at that," Ponting said. "Am I better off having momentum behind me with playing more cricket, and scoring runs on a consistent basis, or am I better off getting away for a long period of time, freshening up, training hard, getting my game in good shape and playing.

"I won't know that until the start of next summer if I make it that far. I won't have a long break now as I have a couple of Shield games to play, there'll be a week after the Shield final, hopefully Tasmania can make the Shield final then I'll have a week at home, then the West Indies and we're straight into a tour game and Test matches there. Post-West Indies when there's a big break between then and November, that'll be a test of how I manage my time.

"The thing I thought about most yesterday was how I was going to manage my time and to be well prepared to play every Test match that I play for the remainder of my career. Obviously now with no more one day international cricket that becomes a little bit more difficult for me, but there are other players around Australia at the moment that play Test match cricket only. I've seen it in the past with Steve Waugh, Mark Taylor, David Boon and those guys when they retired from one day cricket, they managed to play Test match cricket only and play it well."

Though he had not been told explicitly by Inverarity that he was close to being dropped ahead of the event, Ponting said he bore no ill will towards the selectors for how they had handled his ODI exit, and praised the panel for its approach this summer.

"I think the selectors are doing a great job around the team at the moment," Ponting said. "They've brought in some younger, fresher faces which I think was needed. They've had the courage I guess to try some of those guys who might not necessarily have been the best performed players around state cricket as well. As far as selection is concerned, the players are always their only selector. If you're a batsman and you're scoring runs you're going to be in the side, if you're not scoring runs then you're a chance to be left out."

As the only man to have played in more than 100 Test match victories, Ponting's thirst for such moments is unrivalled. He will now spend time in Shield cricket before the West Indies tour, adding to the Tasmanian dressing room what has just been lost to Australia's.

"I've done my best to make sure that every young player that comes into the team has a great understanding of what it means to play cricket for Australia and what levels they have to get to physically and mentally to be good international players," Ponting said. "I think a few of the guys we had come into the set-up in the one day series this year were quite shocked and surprised about how hard we work around the team and how fit you need to be to be a part of the Australian side. Now I'm not there, some of the more experienced guys have got to start passing those traditions down to the younger blokes.

"I've always been a traditionalist, I've loved every opportunity I've had to play cricket for Australia, whether it be one day cricket, Twenty20 or Test cricket. All I've got left is Test cricket and I want to make every post a winner with that, and make sure that every time I have a chance to play for Australia I'm the best prepared I can be and I enjoy every moment."

Edited by Brydon Coverdale

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

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by RandyOZ on (February 24, 2012, 13:35 GMT)

Ponting is second only to Bradman in terms of the greatest batsmen of all time, and come the next Ashes series the United XI popgun attack will be belted to all parts by the might of Punter.

Posted by alonetiger on (February 23, 2012, 6:06 GMT)

ponting is still v best in all format but he should see his own respect now and should get retire him self b4 the selectors kick him out of the side again...the best example to see that when should a player get retire is the retirement of the great steve waugh..who left the game when he made the side on v top and his own valvue and performance in the team was also v high

Posted by Pete_AU on (February 23, 2012, 1:55 GMT)

@zenboomerang: I probably didn't quite make myself completely clear, however I think the gap that the Aussies will experience after the Windies tour is longer than those experienced most recently.

However, what I should have mentioned is in the 'hectic schedule' I included the IPL, which players appear to be more interested in (understandably when you see the $$$) than county cricket, which years ago used to be the way international players would top up their coffers.

As for the one overseas player per team thing, it is really up to the poms. However I would suggest that any county which didnt want a player with 13200 runs under their belt in preference to most other international players would have to be kidding themselves.

I really hope someone taps Ricky (seeing as he wont read this :)) on the shoulder and suggests County cricket as a way of achieving his aims. It should at least be in his mind, I think.

Posted by Rooboy on (February 23, 2012, 1:06 GMT)

Never write off champions. Botham wrote off a team of champions before 2006 as being 'dad's army', and we all remember how that turned out. Well, the Australian fans remember, anyway. @Mitcher - good points but there is no point talking to english fans about that, they don't realise cricket existed prior to 2005.

Posted by   on (February 22, 2012, 15:27 GMT)

@vilageblacksmith oh, so how did the English batting go against 5th ranked Pakistan? Punter averaged nearly 100 in the latest series. Are you afraid of losing the No.1 crown after a whole year (jeez thats a long stint at the top)...

Posted by yquestion on (February 22, 2012, 14:19 GMT)

Pete_AU hit the nail on the head, Ponting should focus on county contract to keep fresh over the Aus winter. If he has a 50+ avg in English county it will help. As an Aussie living in the UK, I play/coach at decent club level in England & have watched (live)dozens of Aus v Eng ODI/T20/Tests in both Eng & Aus. From grass roots level right up to International level, current Australian players REALLY struggle in English conditions. 2009- classic example of poor footwork from Ponting/Hussey/Warner/Clarke & frustrating to watch the likes of B.Lee & Co. bowling FAR too short on slower english pitches. (See Y.tube on 2009 T20 WC @ The Oval vs WI for classic example of what NOT to do). Compare the style of Aus today vs 1993 Aus Ashes team (Watch Y.tube again) & see how Slater/Waugh's/Border handled things & how Merv Hughes bowled, which was alot more uppish length (Like the success Siddle/Hilfenhaus are working today). Current Aus players would benefit from county exp. =win the ashes IMHO

Posted by godimbored on (February 22, 2012, 10:31 GMT)

Large degree of selfishness and self-delusion going on here, I think. He was found out in Australian conditions in the last Ashes, and the only way is down from here. But if he wants to try for four Ashes defeats out of five, then who are we to stop him?

Posted by tomhedley on (February 22, 2012, 10:14 GMT)

@jonesy2, You always have a balanced view!!!!

Posted by Aussasinator on (February 22, 2012, 10:12 GMT)

A classy batsman who falls a notch below greatness due to his innumerable weaknesses against top notch bowling. Plus a lousy captain of course. He'll never be a unanimous great.

Posted by sachin_vvsfan on (February 22, 2012, 10:05 GMT)

I am not sure the selectors will be kind enough to let him go to ENG. WI bowlers will surely exploit his recent weakness of covering his wickets and getting out LBW which our pathetic bowling could not do. What ever happens i want to see him finish on high note. Good Luck.

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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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