Ashes or bust for Ponting
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