Ponting dropped from ODI squad
Ricky Ponting knew the final phone call was imminent. Dropped from the Australia ODI squad for the remainder of the triangular series following the worst batting slump of his limited-overs career, Ponting accepted his fate after reaching an agreement with the national selector John Inverarity that one or the other would have to make the call.
Under their terms, either Ponting would contact Inverarity to notify the selectors of his retirement from ODIs, or Inverarity would do likewise to inform Ponting he had lost his place. Scores of 2, 1, 6, 2 and 7 moved Inverarity to dial first, drawing the curtain on Ponting's time as an ODI batsman. In a 375-game one-day international career, never before had he made five single-figure scores in a row. Twenty-six battling balls in Brisbane sealed the panel's verdict.
"Ricky and I were always clear on this, that at some stage he'd either come to me or I'd have the responsibility of going to him," Inverarity told ESPNcricinfo. "That's always the case with all players, isn't it. It's either they come to the selectors or the selectors come to the player. Ricky in the ODIs there's been a form lapse there, yesterday he wasn't in good form and in the five games he's made very few runs."
Inverarity said that while Ponting would be missed, not least as a leader who had just stood-in for the injured Michael Clarke, the time had come to move on in the 50-over format.
"The team will not seem the same without him, but moving on from the omission of players who have been outstanding over a long period of time is the nature of elite sport," Inverarity said. "Ricky's record speaks for itself. He is one of the truly great performers in the history of Australian ODI cricket, with his reputation enhanced further by him captaining Australia to two World Cup victories.
"Ricky's contribution goes far beyond his batting statistics and his brilliant fielding. The example he sets in every respect and his extraordinarily positive influence in the dressing-room is acknowledged by all. He is held in the highest possible regard by his team-mates and there is no higher accolade than this. Ricky being prepared to take over the captaincy in Michael Clarke's recent absence for the sake of the team is yet another example of his selfless attitude and team-first focus."
Like Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh before him, Ponting was not given the chance to choose when he would end his ODI career. As late as Sunday night in Brisbane following Australia's win in Brisbane, Ponting said he had no intention of stepping aside, and had left his future in the hands of the selectors. Inverarity countered suggestions that Ponting might have been given a farewell match with the stark realities of professional sport.
"Ricky Ponting has been dropped from the ODI side and the national selection panel has spoken about moving towards the 2015 World Cup," he said. "The door is never closed on anybody, but it's a strong indication there. We were very keen for Ricky to play in these games because we intended to blend in some younger players, and his influence for them has been remarkable. But we need to at some stage move on.
"We're not ruling him out because one never knows what's around the corner … but we've certainly got 2015 in mind, and we knew at the beginning of the series when we wanted those young players to be blended in, in the presence of Ricky.
"In elite sport there's no place for sentiment. There are always the two schools of thought, going out on your own terms and that, and the members of the national selection panel were unanimous in their view. It was discussed by email last night, a few calls last night and was confirmed this morning. That's the decision and that's elite sport."
Ponting has been replaced in the squad by the allrounder and vice-captain Shane Watson, who proved his fitness after a stubborn calf injury by playing for New South Wales in a Sheffield Shield match against Western Australia in Perth. Inverarity announced one other change to the squad, recalling Ryan Harris in place of Mitchell Starc. He also confirmed that Matthew Wade had now usurped Brad Haddin as the No. 1 wicketkeeper in limited-overs matches, and that the panel intended to take both glovemen to the West Indies.
"Ryan Harris has been re-included in the squad with Mitchell Starc making way for his return. Mitchell will benefit greatly from the Tests and the ODIs he has played," Inverarity said. "His development as a player of the future is most encouraging. Shane Watson also comes back into the squad. He is an all-rounder of proven class and the NSP is keen to have him re-join the squad.
"The NSP made the decision that Matthew Wade is now the preferred ODI wicket-keeper for the Australian ODI team. The intention at this stage is to have both Matthew and Brad Haddin in the West Indies together for the duration of the tour."
Edited by Brydon Coverdale
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here