Australia v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Sydney, 1st day January 3, 2010

Ricky Ponting pays heavily for overconfidence

The Australian captain's decision to bat on a testing surface was a result of an overestimation of his team's abilities
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Ricky Ponting has experienced major bouts of discomfort over the past month but his team's self-inflicted pain on the opening day in Sydney could turn into the most damaging of the summer. Boosted by Australia's resurgence in Melbourne last week and convinced that his hastily re-jigged order could perform like his men of three years ago, Ponting ignored the specks of green across the pitch, won the toss and batted. Just like Mark Taylor or Steve Waugh would have done.

Ponting doesn't have charge of the same quality as that duo and just when he thinks his side is ready to dominate again in every terrain, his emerging men show they aren't. After 44.2 overs of struggle in extremely challenging conditions, Australia dripped to 127 on a slippery day, their third total of 160 or under since The Oval in August.

Since Edgbaston in 2005, when England scored 407 in a day on the way to a series-turning victory, Ponting has stuck rigidly to a bat-first policy during 23 toss wins. Despite his leadership and tactical gains over the past year he refused to be flexible and the decision has given Pakistan an opening to level the three-match series.

Still remembering those increasingly hazy days at the start of his captaincy reign, Ponting expected his openers to shoulder arms and shovel through the hardest situation of the summer. Except he no longer has a Matthew Hayden or a Justin Langer. Not even a Simon Katich, who was scratched shortly before the toss with an elbow problem. Even before then it was always going to be a day for the bowlers whenever the showers stopped, which they did after lunch.

Michael Hussey didn't have a say in the decision, but he knew what Ponting would do. "I did joke with Ricky a day before the game saying he batted at Jo'burg in first Test against South Africa [early last year] and that wicket had branches growing on it," Hussey said. "I didn't think he'd bowl first on any wicket in the world and there's proof again today."

Ponting's over-confidence in his outfit left Shane Watson, a stroke-maker in conventional conditions appearing in his third series as opener, as the senior partner with Phillip Hughes, a 21-year-old in his sixth Test. Hughes has little experience of green tops, although the conditions were similar to his debut innings when he lasted four balls, and had a rushed entry after replacing Katich. Ponting demanded his openers to swim in the damp conditions, but by the time they had both sunk, the captain had joined them at the bottom of the dressing room.

It's acceptable to flap about after being sent in, but there is less sympathy for a side after it has selected the method of execution, and then added to the torture by sharpening the tools. Mohammad Sami and Mohammad Asif were outstanding, but both were helped by some Australian gifts on a day when reputations could have been made or, in Ponting's case, reconfirmed.

Ponting knew it would be tough and understood that intense application would be required to survive the swing and seam. Then he played a soft shot to his opening ball, being hurried into a pull to deep square leg. Other batsmen contributed to their respective dismissals, but none was more culpable than Ponting.

It's acceptable to flap about after being sent in, but there is less sympathy for a side after it has selected the method of execution, and then added to the torture by sharpening the tools

Mark Taylor had been this brave at the toss at Old Trafford in 1997, but he was certain someone would emerge from that jungle and watched Steve Waugh return with two centuries. Ponting doesn't have anyone of that class except himself, and he hasn't been the same since his left elbow was squashed by Kemar Roach's bouncer in Perth. At the WACA he was caught at short leg fending in the second innings, a justified reaction to another Roach lifter given the bruise in his arm, but in an effort to protect his injury and show he is not frightened by the fast men, he has been determined to pull. Twice in a row he has fallen that way against Pakistan.

A captain needs to realise when self-expression and personal battles have to be shelved to show an impressionable team how to wade through a Test's most difficult day. That can't be done when the No.3 exits at 2 for 2 in the fourth over.

Hughes had already departed for 0, being fortunate to stay for as long as 10 balls on his comeback. Caught between swaying and swinging, he aimed a drive without moving either foot and was taken at second slip, missing out on a chance to impress at home. A gritty half-century would have created a lasting memory for the selectors and those seeing him bat in Australia for the first time.

Watson (6) was undone by his front-foot press and as he forced himself on to the back foot was unable to deal with the seam of Sami, sending a catch behind. Michael Clarke, Australia's most bankable batsman last year, stayed 51 minutes before his self-control departed on 3 and he walked a big drive at Asif. Having seen a couple of outswingers, he left a hole between bat and pad for an off-cutter to slice through.

A similar lapse occurred to Michael Hussey, who knew plays and misses were to be ignored, but he couldn't eliminate his occasionally compulsive tendency to hook. When the ball arrived faster than Hussey calculated on 28, he was caught off the top edge at first slip. It wasn't a shot to be playing at 4 for 51 and he called it "silly".

Marcus North edged behind in familiar fashion and Brad Haddin walked out wanting to smash his team to 300 before stumps. Some days it works - usually when the wicket lacks spice - but today it didn't. He left after an ugly skew to mid-off and seven specialist batsmen had gone for 62.

Under these conditions batting a long time is the key, and defence the most important weapon. The surface looked like how distracted parents paint ceilings, with a decent coverage through the middle and patchy sections closer to the edge. Bowlers crave such green patterns and Australia's fast men begged to use it first but were over-ruled by Ponting. At the end of the day the attack, led by Mitchell Johnson's team-high 38, had already batted on it, praying it would retain its darting seam for another day.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • SRT_Jammy_Dada_VVS_and_Anil_legends on January 5, 2010, 0:03 GMT

    @crownprince4u: Watch the video of Dravid's innings at Leeds on YouTube and then tell me that conditions were not as bad as Sydney if you are so confident. The short balls at Headingley were far more venomous and threatening which created the chance of serious physical injury to the batsmen, which was hardly the case on the 1st day here. And do not sully the great names of Sachin and Dravid by saying they would not make double figures on this pitch when they clearly have no opportunity to prove you wrong. They both made fifties at Wellington in 2002 on what was one of the greenest seamers you will ever see and certainly far more bowler-friendly than the pitch here in Sydney.

  • Rahul_78 on January 4, 2010, 4:31 GMT

    200% spot on mr.english. Nobody remembers but ponting declared abrublty in the first eanings on 1st test. Everybody said it was positive and bold decision. But it also showed how lowly he thought of pak batting and was adoment on making a statement. Well it came off in the 1st test but he half expected it to blow full on in his face at sydney. Mr.Ponting this is pakistan cricket team...comprising of some very fine fast bowlers, underestimating there bating is one thing but they have some killer fast bowlers playing for them and for ones yousuf looked every part of the capten which is very pleasing to see.

  • BigDataIsAHoax on January 4, 2010, 2:36 GMT

    it does not surprise me one bit that australia was skittled out for 127. aussies have never been good players of high-class swing bowling. Pace and bounce is fine. They handle pace and bounce well. But swing?? Nope! India exposed them in perth in 2008 with swing. england did the same twice in ashes. pakistan did it again. and how can i forget dale stayn's heroics down-under. so lets not be so surprised at what happened. remember if u play aussies at ur home, ask the curator to leave good grass on the surface and bring in a few local swing bowlers. that will do!

  • rohanbala on January 4, 2010, 1:37 GMT

    The Australian selectors have a job on hand considering the failure of Phil Hughes, Marcus North & Michael Clarke. Phil Hughes aptly represents a "cat on a hot tin roof", Marcus North seems to enjoy an extended run despite a poor show with the bat while Michael Clarke has done precious little in terms of contribution to the team either with the bat or the ball (except being the vice captain). The selectors should also warn Haddin that this is a test match and not a limited over game whenever he goes to bat, particularly in situations like what the Australians found themselves in, on the first day. As for Ricky Ponting, the West Indies fast bowlers found the chink in his armour and the Pakistan bowlers are following it.

  • MartoAus on January 4, 2010, 0:46 GMT

    Rubbish. Easy to kick Ponting when he's down with the benefit of hindsight, isn't it Mr English? Just like every other two-bit journo, sticking the boot into the Aussies. I see 3 reasons why Ponting batted: 1 It's the Australian way, traditionally. 2 Edgbaston 2005. 3 He didn't want to bat last on this pitch. But no, it's those bad Aussies, being arrogant and ugly and all. The Australians batted poorly and batting first doesn't appear to have been a great decision, but give credit to Pakistan who bowled beautifully.

  • Gopes_On_Dopes on January 4, 2010, 0:44 GMT

    Well its too much of an ask for Ponting to learn now when he has learnt so little in what 7-8 yrs of captaincy? He'll still be ignorant and over confident. Also this has proved once again that he is a flat track bully and benefited hugely from depleted attacks and flat pitches around the world in the last decade. When was the last time he made good runs in a pressure situation against a good attack?

  • gjando on January 4, 2010, 0:42 GMT

    Whether you agree or not with Ponting's decision to bat...how can he be responsible for poor shot selection by his senior players (Hussey, Clarke and Haddin). At least Hussey stuck around for a while before his rush of blood, but Haddin was culpable. This is not the first time. Haddin lacks self-awareness...look at his test record, as short as it is and its not littered with innings when the team needs him to show some grit, leadership and circumspection. Add this to the fact he is not a great keeper...perhaps some self-reflection is required.

    Credit to the Pakistan bowlers who were disciplined with length, control and fielding.

  • Josephus72 on January 4, 2010, 0:37 GMT

    Some questions for the article's author.

    Which of Australia's quicks "begged" his captain to bowl first? Is there verifiable evidence of this, or is it just an assumption (quite possibly a correct one but only a guess nonetheless ) that they did? And even if they did, when did it become an issue or a concern for a captain to over-rule his players on these matters? Wrong or right, is it not his job to make the decision to bat or bowl on winning the toss?

    Based on the article's content, it appears the author has a different view on what being a cricket captain means compared to what I until now believed was the generally accepted view. The author seems to be advocating that a captain should behave more like a chairman of a board than a CEO. A facilitator rather than a decision maker. It is an interesting idea.

  • WeirPicki on January 4, 2010, 0:22 GMT

    Ponting's poor decision reeks of his arrogance. Oh for an Ian Chappell or Mark Taylor type captain to come along.

  • shettysaheb on January 3, 2010, 23:54 GMT

    I think cricket is a fluid game and there are never any hard and fast rules... yes batting first has its advantages in test cricket... but I think on this occasion ricky was blinded by his rigid rules... the game is still young and anything is possible but I hope if there is one lesson to be learnt for ricky... it is to learn everyday in cricket adapt or perish...

  • SRT_Jammy_Dada_VVS_and_Anil_legends on January 5, 2010, 0:03 GMT

    @crownprince4u: Watch the video of Dravid's innings at Leeds on YouTube and then tell me that conditions were not as bad as Sydney if you are so confident. The short balls at Headingley were far more venomous and threatening which created the chance of serious physical injury to the batsmen, which was hardly the case on the 1st day here. And do not sully the great names of Sachin and Dravid by saying they would not make double figures on this pitch when they clearly have no opportunity to prove you wrong. They both made fifties at Wellington in 2002 on what was one of the greenest seamers you will ever see and certainly far more bowler-friendly than the pitch here in Sydney.

  • Rahul_78 on January 4, 2010, 4:31 GMT

    200% spot on mr.english. Nobody remembers but ponting declared abrublty in the first eanings on 1st test. Everybody said it was positive and bold decision. But it also showed how lowly he thought of pak batting and was adoment on making a statement. Well it came off in the 1st test but he half expected it to blow full on in his face at sydney. Mr.Ponting this is pakistan cricket team...comprising of some very fine fast bowlers, underestimating there bating is one thing but they have some killer fast bowlers playing for them and for ones yousuf looked every part of the capten which is very pleasing to see.

  • BigDataIsAHoax on January 4, 2010, 2:36 GMT

    it does not surprise me one bit that australia was skittled out for 127. aussies have never been good players of high-class swing bowling. Pace and bounce is fine. They handle pace and bounce well. But swing?? Nope! India exposed them in perth in 2008 with swing. england did the same twice in ashes. pakistan did it again. and how can i forget dale stayn's heroics down-under. so lets not be so surprised at what happened. remember if u play aussies at ur home, ask the curator to leave good grass on the surface and bring in a few local swing bowlers. that will do!

  • rohanbala on January 4, 2010, 1:37 GMT

    The Australian selectors have a job on hand considering the failure of Phil Hughes, Marcus North & Michael Clarke. Phil Hughes aptly represents a "cat on a hot tin roof", Marcus North seems to enjoy an extended run despite a poor show with the bat while Michael Clarke has done precious little in terms of contribution to the team either with the bat or the ball (except being the vice captain). The selectors should also warn Haddin that this is a test match and not a limited over game whenever he goes to bat, particularly in situations like what the Australians found themselves in, on the first day. As for Ricky Ponting, the West Indies fast bowlers found the chink in his armour and the Pakistan bowlers are following it.

  • MartoAus on January 4, 2010, 0:46 GMT

    Rubbish. Easy to kick Ponting when he's down with the benefit of hindsight, isn't it Mr English? Just like every other two-bit journo, sticking the boot into the Aussies. I see 3 reasons why Ponting batted: 1 It's the Australian way, traditionally. 2 Edgbaston 2005. 3 He didn't want to bat last on this pitch. But no, it's those bad Aussies, being arrogant and ugly and all. The Australians batted poorly and batting first doesn't appear to have been a great decision, but give credit to Pakistan who bowled beautifully.

  • Gopes_On_Dopes on January 4, 2010, 0:44 GMT

    Well its too much of an ask for Ponting to learn now when he has learnt so little in what 7-8 yrs of captaincy? He'll still be ignorant and over confident. Also this has proved once again that he is a flat track bully and benefited hugely from depleted attacks and flat pitches around the world in the last decade. When was the last time he made good runs in a pressure situation against a good attack?

  • gjando on January 4, 2010, 0:42 GMT

    Whether you agree or not with Ponting's decision to bat...how can he be responsible for poor shot selection by his senior players (Hussey, Clarke and Haddin). At least Hussey stuck around for a while before his rush of blood, but Haddin was culpable. This is not the first time. Haddin lacks self-awareness...look at his test record, as short as it is and its not littered with innings when the team needs him to show some grit, leadership and circumspection. Add this to the fact he is not a great keeper...perhaps some self-reflection is required.

    Credit to the Pakistan bowlers who were disciplined with length, control and fielding.

  • Josephus72 on January 4, 2010, 0:37 GMT

    Some questions for the article's author.

    Which of Australia's quicks "begged" his captain to bowl first? Is there verifiable evidence of this, or is it just an assumption (quite possibly a correct one but only a guess nonetheless ) that they did? And even if they did, when did it become an issue or a concern for a captain to over-rule his players on these matters? Wrong or right, is it not his job to make the decision to bat or bowl on winning the toss?

    Based on the article's content, it appears the author has a different view on what being a cricket captain means compared to what I until now believed was the generally accepted view. The author seems to be advocating that a captain should behave more like a chairman of a board than a CEO. A facilitator rather than a decision maker. It is an interesting idea.

  • WeirPicki on January 4, 2010, 0:22 GMT

    Ponting's poor decision reeks of his arrogance. Oh for an Ian Chappell or Mark Taylor type captain to come along.

  • shettysaheb on January 3, 2010, 23:54 GMT

    I think cricket is a fluid game and there are never any hard and fast rules... yes batting first has its advantages in test cricket... but I think on this occasion ricky was blinded by his rigid rules... the game is still young and anything is possible but I hope if there is one lesson to be learnt for ricky... it is to learn everyday in cricket adapt or perish...

  • CustomKid on January 3, 2010, 23:15 GMT

    Pakistan bowled well yesterday and all credit to them. The fact of the matter is Australia played some horrid cricket shots. With the exception of Watson who got a good ball, the rest of the dismissals were just poor cricketing shots. Look back to Lords and the Oval in the Ashes 09 and they did the exact same thing. When there is life in the pitch they seem to want to hit their way out of trouble rather batton down the hatches and grind it out. The interesting thing is the Aussies did exactly that when they won in South Africa particulalry the first test when it was a real green top. They need to find that balance between defence and attack which they have lacked even back when Langer, Hayden, and Waugh and Co were around. The Aussies aren't the only team in this situation. In a era of dominating batsmen they, know when to attack but struggle to defend. I don't blame Pointing for batting I'm sure Yousuf would have done the same. It's a lack of mental toughness and defense costing them.

  • leggetinoz on January 3, 2010, 23:03 GMT

    i saw it a bit differently. I don't think Ponting over estimated the australian side or under estimated the pakistanis. Instead he went with his preference which is to bat first. I thought the decision was wrong but i am also not captaining Australia. The Pakistani's bowled brilliantly and all credit to them. Ponting has always said he would always rpefer to bat first and mike hussey has been quoted as saying he does not think Ricky would bowl first under any circumstances. This is especially true after he was flamed in the media for doing it in England in 2005. As for all the comments (usually by the indian fans looking for any reason to stick the boot in) about the Australian media talking up Ponting as the ebst in the world and how that isn't true. The Australian media is probably harder on ricky ponting and the australian side than any other media in the world. One loss resutls in articles calling for mass sackings. Even before we have lost a match.

  • Benchman on January 3, 2010, 22:45 GMT

    Aussies have themselves to blame - Michael Calrke should now step up and take cahrge of the team and all the batsmen should upskill themselves - they have a great coach in Langer and learn the value of building a test innings like STeve waugh , Border, Jack Kalllis , Dravid etc. Brad Haddin sometimes tries to play like Gilly in spite of being may notches below him in cricketing skillls. Bollinger - looks to be good bowler ( with lot of penetration ) but he should stop mumbling four letter words on the cricket field. Peter Siddle is beang considered as the next Brett Lee but he is only a fast medium bowler - flahsing his yellow teeth more then bowling with fire. Commomn AUssies use the great respources in your country and build up a great team. Take assistance from palyers like Warne, Ian Chappell, Mallet, Jenner . steve waugh, Bobby simpson and the like.

  • desidost on January 3, 2010, 22:40 GMT

    Pointing is great batsman. But following points are true also. 1. He does not have technic to handle good(not even great) or swinging delevery 2. He is not a good human being and sportman spirit desert him. He is a big cheater and very bad behaved sport person. He can not be idle for kids who follow cricket. 3. Because of his extra ordinary run from 2003-2007, his average and runs is are great. if you see rest of his career he is less that 50 avg guy. Who is considered very good batsman. 4.Eventhough he has serious short coming when bowling is so great, Aus people including (IC) compares him with Tendulkar and Lara. That's utter rubbish. You need to be great for most of your career(Tendulkar and Lara), to be compared with them. He is not deserved to be compare with such a greats. Tendulkar and Lara are the best batsmen of our era. Ricky is little lower from them.

    We need to face fact that eventhough pointing makes more run then lara or somebody else, doesn't make him better batsman.

  • Benchman on January 3, 2010, 22:23 GMT

    Ponting indeed is a horrible captain - no doubt about it. Unfortunately he, as always, loses the plot when under pressure. He is extremely nonchalant and simply puts no price on his wicket.Takes matters of personal ego before the cause of the team. His first ball duck here, shoddy display in the second innings of the Perth test as well as the Melbourne test have shown that he is mentally shaken and after being battered by the express pace of Roach. He is in seriously bad form. Australia should avoid giving further opportunities to a joker batsmen like Philip Hughes who is the technically worst batsman now to be opening the batting for a Test side. He is unlikely to survive much longer no matter what the great Pundit ( or idiot ) Aussie selectors think. They are taking Australian cricket to its nadir - inspite of the country having so muchg talent around and a great system for the game. And all batsmen - please show your skills on spicy wickets.You guys are just fatherbed champions.

  • ganjaan on January 3, 2010, 20:05 GMT

    I tend to agree with the author. no doubt ponting is a great player, sometimes being overconfident, arrogant and infexible can cost humiliation. this is a great example of such a situation. Being bullish is one thing which oz's are known for but underestimating the opponents strength is what probably happened here. well the test is not over yet, might bring a good test for us fans and good to see sami and asif bowling like that.

  • chevaline on January 3, 2010, 19:36 GMT

    If the Ausses want to believe that every criticism of Ricky Ponting is because we Poms are "picking on him", rather than because he makes a succession of captaincy "howlers", that's fine by me. He's a truly great batsman but a very ordinary captain. Australia win despite his captaincy, not because of it. Please keep him in charge through next winter as well. With him at the helm we have a much better chance of retaining the Ashes. I raise a glass to Ricky's captaincy - long may it continue - a true mastermind.

  • ahamed143 on January 3, 2010, 17:39 GMT

    Pointing certainly underestimated the pak opening bowling attack. I guess Aussies game plan was to survive the newball- first spell from Asif and Sami then to take on the 3 and 4th bowler that is Gul and Kaneria. I can say that it was a valid game plan given that Gul and Kaneria not in great form. But their to survive the first spell was terribly failed. Remember the drop catches on the day1 at MCG, which masked the pakistani bowling performance. Also they bowled superbly in their second innings at MCG, though they lost the game.

  • Kentaro on January 3, 2010, 17:15 GMT

    Typical Peter English article. He's quiet when Australia are winning but as soon as we succumb to excellent bowling or some other thing he goes after Ponting. Its quite pathetic really, especially all the comments that come out when Australia don't make 400+. Oh and WJStryder, batting misfiring? Have you seen the amount of 50's made by australian's recently?

  • jalip on January 3, 2010, 17:11 GMT

    I dont understand why every body blames ricky for batting first what if pakistan won the toss and put australia to bad whome you gona blame why dont people accept it that australia was totally out classed by the bowlers on the first day I know its bit hard to digest?

  • ninetykman on January 3, 2010, 16:26 GMT

    Ponting was over confident and probably thought lowly of Pak's bowling lineup. Great comeback by Pakistan. With sheer Pace and swing, Sami and Aisf has shown the world that they are a force to be reckon with.On the other hand the myth of the Aussie batting lineup and their resurgence has also been shattered. 2nd collapse in as many innings. If those 2 catches were taken on the 1st day at the MCG, it would have been a different result. Now Pak needs to bat well and get a decent lead. Then try to bowl out the aussies to win this game and level the series.

  • KingofRedLions on January 3, 2010, 15:55 GMT

    And up pop the Ponting haters, magically appearing when Australia have a bad day, but were strangely silent a week ago...

  • Prakash.R on January 3, 2010, 15:50 GMT

    I think Ponting can be blamed as a batsman for his poor shot selection, but as a Captain he has stuck to his guts and prevailed. Boxing day test for instance, would have ended in a draw with any other captain, his timely declarations made a win out if the flat track. Ponting banks on his instincts and sometimes it works and sometimes not, last match he was on the right side, this time the other. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt as a captain.

  • cricsand on January 3, 2010, 15:45 GMT

    Aren't the aussies and the proteas supposed to be better on playing green tops? What happened? OR they are just flat track bullies too?

  • crownprince4u on January 3, 2010, 15:45 GMT

    I do not understand why do people criticise Ricky so much? Every captain makes a mistake. Just because he has not got the same class as he had before does not mean we criticise him for making wrong decisions and call him over-confident. He still is no doubt the best batsman in the world and his record speaks out loud. In regards to SRT_Jammy_Dada_VVS_and_Anil_legends comment: I do not think conditions were anywhere near the same as they were in Headingly. SRT, Dravid and in fact any batsman would struggle to go into double figures in conditions like that and against pace attack of Pakistan. Australia are still a strong force in all form of cricket. Pakistan have had a fantastic day but tomorrow is another day and Aussies could utilise the conditions and Pakistanis could make it easier by playing the wrong shots ... The game is far from over. Full credit to Pakistani bowlers as well as expecting anything from Aussie bowlers and Ricky's mind. Lets see day 2 :)

  • phoenix_29 on January 3, 2010, 14:58 GMT

    Well when ur the most successful player in the history of tests...i guess u can give him some leeway.....people tend to comment a bit early than usual,ITS only the 1st Innings,&,Pakistan will also have to face the music tomorrow,the overhead conditions also played a vital part today as the ball seaming & swinging for more than 40 overs,don't u remember the TRINIDAD TEST of 1995,when AUSTRALIA made 128 & 105 (47/36Overs),WEST INDIES 136 & 1/98 (60/21 Overs),only difference is that that was in TRINIDAD (W.Indies wanted to level the series,& they got it) this is SCG (HOME VENUE for AUSTRALIA).....One dayers were still going on,i dont think its a matter of technique as much as it is a question of temperament,SHOT by HUGHES,PONTING,HUSSEY,HADDIN...PRO AGGRESSIVE... not really called for in the TEST ARENA.....

  • Celtics24 on January 3, 2010, 14:48 GMT

    Ok so captain courageous won the toss and batted on a green top. This was obviously a mistake with an inexperienced opening combination, neither of whom would've opened on such a surface before, especially Watson. But ok...fair enough, now there's a chance for batsmen to grind out a gritty innings for the team, class should show in difficult conditions, right?

    So Ponting comes out at 1/2 and first ball he plays THAT shot. It was the most irresponsible and selfish shot I've ever seen. A shot trying to prove his manhood and win a personal battle to show the world what a man he is and has no weakness vs the short ball. When what was required from the captain was a gritty team orientated innings to guide his team to safety and see off the new ball. That's now 9 times in the last year and a bit he's been out hooking, and his stats are terrible during that period. he needs to wake up.

    Let me also add before my characters run out, great bowling from the pakistanis, especially asif!

  • Aussieicon91 on January 3, 2010, 14:23 GMT

    Brisbane 2002 was a greentop. End of the days play, Australia 350/2 ft Hayden 180 n/o & Ponting 120.. Just ask Nassar Hussain. ;)

  • Jarr30 on January 3, 2010, 14:11 GMT

    This proves that Ponting is horrible captain....But I guess the Aussie media hails him as the best, which is not true. Ponting in the past had Hayden,Langer,Gilly & in-form Hussey. My GRANDFATHER would captain this team and win...BUT...all these players are not there and Ponting should wake to reality. This also proves that Ponting is Flat track bully and can't handle raw pace. Maybe Aussie might need somebody like Tendulkar or Lara to bat on this kind of pitch.

  • chokkashokka on January 3, 2010, 13:48 GMT

    Goes to show the complacency and arrogance of Ricky Ponting. Its this false sense of bravado that might do him in this time. He walks out without the arm guard, he plays the pull shot as if to make a statement - all very selfish foolish bravado where sane heads needed to prevail. He needs to realize this Austalian team is a very average team talentwise but one that has a tremendous amount of fight and grit - and that should be the strength that he plays to. I hope Pakistan don't crumble and go on to score big in the first innings - would love to see how Ponting reacts. It should make for a gripping contest. Ponting needs a healthy dose of humility and who better to serve it in good measure than this Pakistan team which is coming from a loss. This has the makings of classic test match.

  • W2NTED on January 3, 2010, 13:38 GMT

    Excellent decision by ponting, to bat first allowing the pak bowlers to do what their best at BOWLING in helpfull conditions. Ponting was way overconfident ha ha.

  • misterblobby123 on January 3, 2010, 13:35 GMT

    Ricky Ponting is Australia's highest run scorer, the most successful captain ever, has the second-highest number of international centuries and I think the most one day runs as well. Regardless of all this, people still find it necessary to get stuck into him the first chance they get. So a decision didn't go as planned - remember that Steve Waughand Mark Taylor lost games and Hayden & Langer didnt always make a 200 run opening partnership. He is doing a great job with an inexperienced team & should be supported.

  • ShahidAfridiFan on January 3, 2010, 13:29 GMT

    the only good thing about pakistans domestic setup is the wickets are flat and the bowlers are expected at domestic level to take wickets on them pitches, you give them a green surface like in sydney and their attack becomes devastating.

    its one of the reasons why pakistan has produced the best pacemen in the world.

  • insightfulcricketer on January 3, 2010, 13:28 GMT

    I am no Ponting fan but am amused how his decision baiters are mayb being presumptuous. This is a test match 4 innings need to be played and we are just through 1 . Ponting decision can be truly merited only after the test match is over. Remember tbis bunch of Pakistanis barely made 250 on a batting wicket. Lets see how it fares on a green wicket.

  • Winsome on January 3, 2010, 13:23 GMT

    Prajwolb, I agree about Punter's choice of bowlers. MJ is in good nick and his confidence would be up from top-scoring in that useless line-up. He would have been worth a risk after the way he bowled first up on the last day of the last test. Punter can be such a by-numbers captain. It might have been worth opening with both Watson and MJ as they were the most likely to get the ball to move around.

  • dr_sachinfan_chennai on January 3, 2010, 13:20 GMT

    Well though he had won most test than anyone as a captain, Punter is n't a great one. He inherited a team of superstars and matchwinners and created records with them. Had he got a sterner challenge in his early days as skipper he might not be so over confident. I don think any sane Skipper will declare on 450 scores these days. Lucky for him that both Pak n WI failed to use it. Clarke should get captaincy soon.

  • Percy_Fender on January 3, 2010, 12:38 GMT

    It was not surprising to see Asif and Sami run through Australia on such a green top as the one they had at the SCG. I wonder when the last time was when they had such a wicket there. It was impossible for any team to have played even ordinary seam bowling let alone the kind of high quality stuff the Pakistanis dished out. Asif is difficult to play on the best of pitches though and I had expected him to be the major threat on this kind of wicket despite the Australian media not having given him the rating due to him thus far. I have seldom seen the best of batsmen not being troubled by Asif given his variations and the thought that he gives to planning out his dismissals. Perhaps the batsman who played him the best I have seen is Brandon Mccallum of New Zealand who would stand outside the crease and move forward just as Asif delivered the ball. It was very effective stuff.Maybe the Australians should take a leaf from his book by watching videos of the last Test match in New Zealand.

  • Slunk on January 3, 2010, 12:37 GMT

    "The Australian captain's decision to bat on a testing surface was a result of an overestimation of his team's abilities".

    Also an underestimation of Pakistan's abilities - just look at - what i would describe - as stupid declarations in first test and also WI test.

    My thoughts at time of declaration in First Test: only Ponting has allowed Pakistan in the game. I note Pakistan avoided the follow-on by only 4 runs. Australia should have got 550 and enforced the follow-on and would be in a much better position in the game.

    Still they praise Ponting for being aggressive - but you're not going for a draw if you bat out your first innings. Always an opportunity to declare in 2nd innings if needed.

    Surprised Ponting didn't declare at 90.

  • Winsome on January 3, 2010, 11:19 GMT

    Punter doesn't get it yet. This 'over-confidence' is basd on an adherence to the myth of the Aussie's battling qualities and the talent at his disposal. If he looked at scorecards over the past two years, really looked at them, he would realise that they collapse regularly. Not only on seaming pitches, but on flat ones as well if they are under pressure.

    He played a poor shot, but we are getting used to that as he doesn't recognise his own weaknesses at present. Haddin's shot was also brainless.

    I don't agree about Clarke, he has a bad habit of leaving holes between bat and pad, but Asif was bowling beautifully and that was a ripper of a delivery. Watson also got a beauty, but there was culpability in the rest of the shots. However, considering the quality of the bowling and the conditions, I am sure if they hadn't helped themselves get out, they would have been done up by the excellence of the bowling AND, to all our surprise, the catching

  • jazzaaaaaaaa on January 3, 2010, 11:12 GMT

    I agree with everything said there except about Steve Waugh. He was a captain that believed it was ok to go against the book (Batting first). I remember he bowled first on a Mumbai raging turner. I know there have been other examples as well. I think Ponting sometimes struggles to read the game properly, we've seen it here and we see it many times with his field placings which to me always seem to be a couple of overs beehind the game. So often it seems like the horse has bolted and he sets fields that follow where the ball has been.

  • Geraldine on January 3, 2010, 11:06 GMT

    Terrible mistake by Ponting and could cost the match. Ponting is far too inflexible in his captaincy and is afraid that making changes shows fear. Going with Hughes was also a mistake, he hasn't done too well this season and his flawed technique has been exposed. Hussey is still a fighter even though he is probably past his best. And then there's North who was chosen because of his part-time spin which hasn't been used. His batting figures are inflated because he prospers in easy batting conditions but contributes little when the others fail. There are better batsmen in Australia than him like Rogers or Marsh, and Klinger who is the form batsman in Australia. The selectors should consider them to replace North particularly at grounds that are not conducive to spin. It will be interesting to see if Ponting uses him at the SCG.

  • prashnottz on January 3, 2010, 11:00 GMT

    'Tis a good one, Peter.

    Perhaps Ponting should take a leaf out of Tendulkar's books. Tendulkar was in a similar situation where once his famed off side play was causing his downfall regularly in the Down Under Tour of 2003-04. In the last test at Sydney, he stopped playing the cut and the off drives completely and ground his way to a memorable double hundred. Sure was not viewer-friendly as his other hundreds but it made runs for himself, his team and his confidence. Ponting can learn from that, curb his ego and instincts. Today's Australian team needs a 225 ball 100 from him rather than a 70 ball 50.

  • prajwolb on January 3, 2010, 10:34 GMT

    Fully agree with this article. Big mistake by Ponting to bat first and full credit to the Pakistan bowlers. Good to see Sami back in the international arena but what surprised me at the end was Johnson not given the ball. The is in superb nick and he is deadly when he's on top of his game. Why not Johnson and Bollinger duo? Wierd.

  • Notout_Naveen on January 3, 2010, 10:27 GMT

    Ponting's decision to bat first in an overcast bowling condition wasn't smart and being the experienced bat himself rushing for a pull shot in the very first ball wasnt a good idea either.

    " Now a days Ricky isnt tricky.. he is full of complancensy.. From now on he must be careful with his captaincy.."

  • popcorn on January 3, 2010, 10:26 GMT

    I simply cannot understand this fascination that Andrew Hilditch and his Co -selectors have for this flashy,unreliable,undependable opener,Philip Hughes.He has zero technique.He has zero staying power. His method of batting is ONLY suited to ODIs and Twenty20 cricket. His centuries in South Africa were plain lucky. He was responsible for The Ashes loss in 2009. Richie Benaud went on record to say that we expect the openers to provide a solid foundation - which Shane Watson and Simpon Katich have done all summer. Philp Hughes ruins the morale of the Australian Team, and I hope is sacked forever - banished to his banana farm or ONLY relegated to play ODI or Twenty20 cricket like David Warner. Chris Rogers and Phiilp Jaques are dependable openers with solid technique. One of them should be chosen as the standby opener. Marcus North - your time is up. Time wiill tell if Ricky Ponting's decision was wrong or right. Batting last at the turning SCG is never easy.

  • SRT_Jammy_Dada_VVS_and_Anil_legends on January 3, 2010, 10:18 GMT

    This pitch reminds me of when India won the toss at Headingley in 2002 and Sourav Ganguly opted to bat in conditions that were certainly not in India's favour. Sanjay Bangar gritted it out for 68 while Rahul Dravid produced a masterclass 148 which set up what would eventually be a crushing win for India. Today Ponting had the chance to emulate Dravid and failed. In these run-orgy filled times it seems that batsmen have forgotten that technical and mental discipline is required to play on such a tough wicket. Thus in an odd way it was pleasing that the Aussies failed as this failure only served to highlight the tremendous value in terms of technique and team balance that batsmen like Rahul Dravid bring to the table. Ganguly and Dravid 3 Ponting 0

  • WJStryder on January 3, 2010, 9:59 GMT

    More proof i think that Ponting is the worst captain amongst the major cricket playing nations. That scoreline should be Pakistans seeing that he won the toss. A worrying trend for Aus supporters though is that the Aus batting machine is misfring regularly. They have found some fire in Siddle and Bollinger amongst the bowlers, but it is obviously missing amongst the batsman. A Waugh would have been useful indeed.

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  • WJStryder on January 3, 2010, 9:59 GMT

    More proof i think that Ponting is the worst captain amongst the major cricket playing nations. That scoreline should be Pakistans seeing that he won the toss. A worrying trend for Aus supporters though is that the Aus batting machine is misfring regularly. They have found some fire in Siddle and Bollinger amongst the bowlers, but it is obviously missing amongst the batsman. A Waugh would have been useful indeed.

  • SRT_Jammy_Dada_VVS_and_Anil_legends on January 3, 2010, 10:18 GMT

    This pitch reminds me of when India won the toss at Headingley in 2002 and Sourav Ganguly opted to bat in conditions that were certainly not in India's favour. Sanjay Bangar gritted it out for 68 while Rahul Dravid produced a masterclass 148 which set up what would eventually be a crushing win for India. Today Ponting had the chance to emulate Dravid and failed. In these run-orgy filled times it seems that batsmen have forgotten that technical and mental discipline is required to play on such a tough wicket. Thus in an odd way it was pleasing that the Aussies failed as this failure only served to highlight the tremendous value in terms of technique and team balance that batsmen like Rahul Dravid bring to the table. Ganguly and Dravid 3 Ponting 0

  • popcorn on January 3, 2010, 10:26 GMT

    I simply cannot understand this fascination that Andrew Hilditch and his Co -selectors have for this flashy,unreliable,undependable opener,Philip Hughes.He has zero technique.He has zero staying power. His method of batting is ONLY suited to ODIs and Twenty20 cricket. His centuries in South Africa were plain lucky. He was responsible for The Ashes loss in 2009. Richie Benaud went on record to say that we expect the openers to provide a solid foundation - which Shane Watson and Simpon Katich have done all summer. Philp Hughes ruins the morale of the Australian Team, and I hope is sacked forever - banished to his banana farm or ONLY relegated to play ODI or Twenty20 cricket like David Warner. Chris Rogers and Phiilp Jaques are dependable openers with solid technique. One of them should be chosen as the standby opener. Marcus North - your time is up. Time wiill tell if Ricky Ponting's decision was wrong or right. Batting last at the turning SCG is never easy.

  • Notout_Naveen on January 3, 2010, 10:27 GMT

    Ponting's decision to bat first in an overcast bowling condition wasn't smart and being the experienced bat himself rushing for a pull shot in the very first ball wasnt a good idea either.

    " Now a days Ricky isnt tricky.. he is full of complancensy.. From now on he must be careful with his captaincy.."

  • prajwolb on January 3, 2010, 10:34 GMT

    Fully agree with this article. Big mistake by Ponting to bat first and full credit to the Pakistan bowlers. Good to see Sami back in the international arena but what surprised me at the end was Johnson not given the ball. The is in superb nick and he is deadly when he's on top of his game. Why not Johnson and Bollinger duo? Wierd.

  • prashnottz on January 3, 2010, 11:00 GMT

    'Tis a good one, Peter.

    Perhaps Ponting should take a leaf out of Tendulkar's books. Tendulkar was in a similar situation where once his famed off side play was causing his downfall regularly in the Down Under Tour of 2003-04. In the last test at Sydney, he stopped playing the cut and the off drives completely and ground his way to a memorable double hundred. Sure was not viewer-friendly as his other hundreds but it made runs for himself, his team and his confidence. Ponting can learn from that, curb his ego and instincts. Today's Australian team needs a 225 ball 100 from him rather than a 70 ball 50.

  • Geraldine on January 3, 2010, 11:06 GMT

    Terrible mistake by Ponting and could cost the match. Ponting is far too inflexible in his captaincy and is afraid that making changes shows fear. Going with Hughes was also a mistake, he hasn't done too well this season and his flawed technique has been exposed. Hussey is still a fighter even though he is probably past his best. And then there's North who was chosen because of his part-time spin which hasn't been used. His batting figures are inflated because he prospers in easy batting conditions but contributes little when the others fail. There are better batsmen in Australia than him like Rogers or Marsh, and Klinger who is the form batsman in Australia. The selectors should consider them to replace North particularly at grounds that are not conducive to spin. It will be interesting to see if Ponting uses him at the SCG.

  • jazzaaaaaaaa on January 3, 2010, 11:12 GMT

    I agree with everything said there except about Steve Waugh. He was a captain that believed it was ok to go against the book (Batting first). I remember he bowled first on a Mumbai raging turner. I know there have been other examples as well. I think Ponting sometimes struggles to read the game properly, we've seen it here and we see it many times with his field placings which to me always seem to be a couple of overs beehind the game. So often it seems like the horse has bolted and he sets fields that follow where the ball has been.

  • Winsome on January 3, 2010, 11:19 GMT

    Punter doesn't get it yet. This 'over-confidence' is basd on an adherence to the myth of the Aussie's battling qualities and the talent at his disposal. If he looked at scorecards over the past two years, really looked at them, he would realise that they collapse regularly. Not only on seaming pitches, but on flat ones as well if they are under pressure.

    He played a poor shot, but we are getting used to that as he doesn't recognise his own weaknesses at present. Haddin's shot was also brainless.

    I don't agree about Clarke, he has a bad habit of leaving holes between bat and pad, but Asif was bowling beautifully and that was a ripper of a delivery. Watson also got a beauty, but there was culpability in the rest of the shots. However, considering the quality of the bowling and the conditions, I am sure if they hadn't helped themselves get out, they would have been done up by the excellence of the bowling AND, to all our surprise, the catching

  • Slunk on January 3, 2010, 12:37 GMT

    "The Australian captain's decision to bat on a testing surface was a result of an overestimation of his team's abilities".

    Also an underestimation of Pakistan's abilities - just look at - what i would describe - as stupid declarations in first test and also WI test.

    My thoughts at time of declaration in First Test: only Ponting has allowed Pakistan in the game. I note Pakistan avoided the follow-on by only 4 runs. Australia should have got 550 and enforced the follow-on and would be in a much better position in the game.

    Still they praise Ponting for being aggressive - but you're not going for a draw if you bat out your first innings. Always an opportunity to declare in 2nd innings if needed.

    Surprised Ponting didn't declare at 90.