December 21, 2005

Thinking outside the square

Martin Williamson
Ricky Ponting is unhappy with the decision to offer the light to the batsmen, Australia v South Africa, 1st Test, Perth, 4th day, December 19, 2005
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Ricky Ponting's captaincy is again under the spotlight after South Africa batted through the final day at Perth to secure a draw. In the Australian, Mike Coward pointed out that Ponting's increasingly regular rows with umpires are a sign of pressure:

At the moment he is finding it hard to believe the umpires always have the last word. Whether this is a commentary on his state of mind only those in his inner circle will know.

And his reluctance to use Andrew Symonds was just one of a series of decisions which drew criticism.

The situation cried out for a daring and unconventional approach and no doubt Ponting spent a good deal of his time ruing the lateness of his declaration on Monday. Whether he overrated the capacity of his bowlers in such unusual conditions for this ground, or underestimated the courage and resourcefulness of Rudolph and plucky Justin Kemp, will long be debated.

Jon Pierik in the Sydney Daily Telegraph was blunter, describing how Ponting made one of "the biggest blunders of his career." He added:

Ponting was under pressure last night to justify his decision to wait for man-of-the-match Brad Hodge to reach his maiden double-century on the cusp of tea on Monday before declaring. The Australians pride themselves on playing for the "team" but Ponting's decision smacked of arrogance.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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