Ponting says slump not IPL-related
Ricky Ponting has brushed aside suggestions that off-field distractions centring on Australian participation in the IPL has led to his current slump in form. Ponting has been vocally supporting the move and wants Cricket Australia to allow its contracted players to appear in the tournament, but he does not believe matters like the IPL and the in-doubt tour of Pakistan are impacting his performance.
Ponting made 10 in Adelaide against India and averages 10.60 in five matches of this year's CB Series. "I'm in a little bit of a bad run at the moment but it's not because I've got other things on my mind," Ponting said. "You have your ups and downs and I'm in a bit of a rut, but I'm working hard so hopefully the runs will start to come in the next couple of games."
He admitted it was hard to tell the batsmen to knuckle down given his own form but did so in a meeting before the game. Yet while Michael Clarke made the sole half-century, Ponting could only attribute the collective batting dip to coincidence. "It's really unusual for our team to have two or three of those guys in a slump but we're not that concerned about it because we are winning games. If those sorts of things on our minds it would be affecting the whole team. Right at the moment the bowlers have just been a bit too good for the batsmen."
On top of the IPL distractions Ponting, like his other team-mates, also has sponsorship obligations but he said these commitments had not encroached on his game. In fact, he argued that they had almost helped in the IPL case, as he is used to separating money matters from the batting business. "That's been one of my strengths over the years. When it's cricket time, it's cricket time."
One player with no such concerns having announced his international retirement is Adam Gilchrist. On Sunday night he may have scored 15 [albeit on the back of a century at the WACA on Friday] but having quit, his wicketkeeping was freer than ever and he took four catches and a stumping.
"If he keeps doing what he's done in the last couple of weeks I'm happy for him to keep going on a little bit longer," Ponting said with a smile. He also compared Gilchrist to Glenn McGrath in the 2007 World Cup, where the bowler ended up as player of the tournament in his farewell ODI series. "He [McGrath] felt that all the worry was gone. He just wanted to enjoy every game for what it was and Gilly is feeling a little bit the same now, just really enjoying his cricket and that's showing through."
Australia may not be playing their best cricket but Ponting finds it satisfying that they are still winning games. What also pleases them is their four days off to rest and recover - Brett Lee will be included after he missed this game to recharge - before their next match against Sri Lanka on Friday.
Jenny Thompson is an assistant editor at Cricinfo