Current leader beats strong Ashes field November 14, 2006

Benaud picks Ponting as best modern captain

Cricinfo staff

Big call: Richie Benaud © Getty Images

Richie Benaud has turned his back on some of Australia's greatest captains to pick Ricky Ponting as the leader of his ultimate Ashes XII of the past 30 years. Despite Ponting handing back the urn in 2005 after Australia had held it for 16 years, Benaud said the series was a learning experience and selected him for the Alpha magazine squad ahead of Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh, Allan Border and Greg Chappell.

"The last Ashes was a tough series for all the Aussies and, in particular, Ricky Ponting," Benaud told the magazine. "He is learning to be his own captain and is working out how best to use his senior players.

"There is no doubt he is a better and stronger captain than last year. When a series is lost there is always going to be a finger pointed and more than not it's at the captain. He restocked and looked at how best to go about captaining and we are now seeing a stronger leader."

Ponting has steered Australia to 22 wins in 30 Tests and lost only three - defeats at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge cost him the Ashes - while Waugh was successful in 41 of 57 matches. Mark Taylor, who guided Australia to three series wins over England, did not make Benaud's selection, with the current pair of Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer opening the batting.

Benaud's Ashes XII Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer, Ricky Ponting (capt), Greg Chappell, Allan Border, Steve Waugh, Adam Gilchrist (wk), Shane Warne, Dennis Lillee, Terry Alderman, Glenn McGrath, Craig McDermott (12th man).