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Ponting attacks CA's lack of foresight

Daniel Brettig

October 22, 2013

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Ricky Ponting is carried by David Warner and Michael Clarke after the Perth Test, Australia v South Africa, 3rd Test, Perth, 4th day, December 3, 2012
Ricky Ponting gave up the captaincy after losing the Ashes at home in 2010-11 © Getty Images

Ricky Ponting, the former Australia captain, has spoken of his shock at being told by the Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland that "no one ever spends money when they are going well", a statement emblematic of the complacency Ponting believes has contributed to the nation's slide from the top of the game.

Sutherland's words were uttered during a conversation at the 2011 SCG Ashes Test, which Australia lost by an innings to complete a 3-1 series defeat at home that hastened the Argus review and the departures of former coach Tim Nielsen, the chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch, the chief of cricket operations Michael Brown and Ponting himself as captain.

Don Argus' report into the Australian team's performance brought a host of new appointments and a changed management structure, but Ponting has maintained that many of these supposed innovations had been advocated for as much as a decade by himself and Nielsen's predecessor, John Buchanan. Ponting told ESPNcricinfo he was stunned at Sutherland's lack of foresight, and believed Buchanan had risked his job more than once while advocating change when the team were enjoying their years of plenty.

"When he said that it was like 'What? What are you talking about'," Ponting said while discussing his autobiography At the close of play. "I said then 'Tiger Woods has just won the US Open, he'll be on the driving range tomorrow morning trying to make his swing better for next year and putting all his time and effort to make it better because he knows he's not the same player and he'll need to do things differently to win again next year'."

"But there was no foresight at all into where we were going. Buck was always ridiculed for asking for things. He saw where the game was going to go, and all the stuff that came out with the Argus review was the stuff Buck was talking about 10 years ago, and he was shut down and almost pushed out of his job because of where he thought the game was going to go."

When asked whether or not Sutherland had been held accountable for the slip in the national team's fortunes, and those of the the supporting competitions beneath, Ponting said that while the CA balance sheet was strong, other areas had been either neglected or cut back in favour of stratagems like the Twenty20 Big Bash League. He advocated greater CA control over the goals of the states and the preparation of domestic pitches.

"Business-wise and the last couple years in particular you'd say CA has done a really good job with making the BBL the success they have and other things they've done," Ponting said. "But it's been at the detriment of something else. State cricket's funding and coaches that work with them. One thing I think they should do is CA should employ all the state coaches. Take it out of the state's hands altogether.

"CA should employ them, then they can have some sort of input into the wickets they produce and the teams they pick. Because what we've got now is Queensland winning their first five games at home every year on green wickets. Tassie, to keep up, do the same thing. SA did the same thing last year where they had seaming wickets and Chadd Sayers took 50 wickets on Adelaide Oval. Where's all the spinners?

"They've got to have some sort of control over it, otherwise as professionals coaches have to look after themselves. They have to keep themselves in a job, so it's all about winning which you can understand and it should be. But conditions around the country have got to get back to what they used to be, and each ground have the characteristics they had when I started, which was how you learned a more rounded game."

Another area Ponting believes CA became complacent was in assuming the next generation of young players would spring up to take the place of the previous generation, leading to the early dumping of Simon Katich. Ponting has written that this decision flabbergasted him, but it was not the only call that did so.

"My view on selection is you only ever make a change if it's going to make the team better," he said. "A lot of the changes we made didn't make the team better, and I don't care what anybody says. The coach (Tim Nielsen) going when he did didn't make the team better. I think a lot of the stuff that happened with the Argus review was premeditated stuff that was already in the pipeline and they put this panel together to justify it.

"My meeting around the Argus review lasted less than an hour. I was dressed in a suit, prepared, notes, I thought I was going to be there all day, thrash everything out for six hours, get my opinions and views on everything. But they asked me a few questions, asked me who was accountable, and I was out. I said to James 'I need to have a chat to you outside', we did and it was just like they didn't really want to hear it."

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

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Posted by Jagger on (October 24, 2013, 12:29 GMT)

@brusselslion - yes you are spot on for all but the champions you mention are not a one-off. There are more champions to be found every year in Australia but there has been massive generational change. Detrimental change. There was a crusade in the Australian media which identified the enemy as winning all the time. It's boring, they said. I couldn't believe it. Such blasphemy and arrogance, let alone to preach it from the pulpit was staggering. Could it be possible the powers decided we needed to give everyone else a go for the betterment of the business both locally and internationally? What do the ICC do, exactly? Then there is the growth and poaching from the football codes and a population of 23 million. Theories all lead to one abundantly clear conclusion - The fact is we are losing and I want it fixed, pronto, but am I with the tide of opinion or against? I have no idea and I do not expect a truthful answer.

Posted by   on (October 24, 2013, 9:59 GMT)

Ricky ponting one of the worst Ashes records of any captain. Don't think he can comment on leadership issues

Posted by The-Guy on (October 24, 2013, 8:27 GMT)

You would have thought after the decline of West Indies that CA would have learnt a few things from them. Guess not.

Posted by Shottrick on (October 24, 2013, 5:12 GMT)

@Ali_Chaudhary, read the article again. Ponting didn't have the administrative control that he otherwise expected that CA would provide to sustain the future of Australian cricket. What captains of other countries did is irrelevant, considering there are different hierarchies in administration. Read the entire article.

Posted by duralsumo on (October 24, 2013, 2:27 GMT)

I am not surprised with Ricky Pontings statements about James Sutherland or the lack of attention given to him by Argus review. As Gideon Haigh has said often Mr Sutherland's objective has been to turn to Cricket Australia from a sports administrator to a marketing organisation. One of his first actions was to rename Australian Cricket Board to Cricket Australia. As I can recall that the Argus review did not have the independence it was seeking as James Sutherland sat in all sessions of it. My perception is that James Sutherland has only looked at short term fixes and no long term solutions.

Posted by OneEyedAussie on (October 23, 2013, 23:06 GMT)

@ DyslexicWays on (October 23, 2013, 15:12 GMT) : Yeah, I did take a look at Ponting's record. In fact, I mentioned some of it in my post - a captain that lost 3 out of 4 Ashes, including 2 losses with a superior team. I think that qualifies as part of the problem.

Posted by USIndianFan on (October 23, 2013, 18:53 GMT)

Sutherland should resign.

Posted by jimbond on (October 23, 2013, 17:09 GMT)

Good, now that the Chappells have mellowed down, you need someone with stature to have a go at the administration. Warne was always there with his comments, but Pontings comments are welcome. Mere resignations do not mean anything, but Sutherland should take responsibility (when he felt that Mickey Arthur should be responsible).

Posted by Selassie-I on (October 23, 2013, 16:58 GMT)

This is definatley the best australian team I have seen, the should keep doing exactly what they are at the moment, not like those horrible Ponting/Waugh years... from an English point of view.

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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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