Australian captain arrives home September 14, 2005

Ponting defends his position

AFP
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Ricky Ponting: "I know I'm not going to keep everybody happy" © Getty Images

Ricky Ponting arrived home declaring he still wants to be captain and his team has a burning desire to retrieve the Ashes in 2006-07.

The Australians have returned home amid calls for heads to roll after the world champions had gone to England in June with expectations of a comfortable series victory. Ponting has taken much of the blame for the failure with Dennis Lillee calling for Shane Warne to replace him as captain.

Ponting confronted a large media pack shortly after his arrival at Sydney Airport and said he wasn't aware of Lillee's comments. "I'm not concerned about those things," he said. "As long as I am doing the right thing by everyone in my dressing room and the team and the coaching staff, well then that's all I can do.

"I know I'm not going to keep everybody happy along the way, I am sure I've done things even before this series that other people haven't been that happy with. But as long as I am looking after the guys in my dressing room, then I'll be happy."

Ponting, who was criticised for conservative field placements and bowling changes, said he wanted to remain in charge. "I still want to be captain," he said. "It's a 2-1 series defeat, it's not as if we have been completely wiped off the planet and it's not as if we have to make wholesale changes to our set-up.

"Hopefully, I will keep the job. I've loved doing it, love every opportunity I have to captain Australia. It's one of the best jobs in world sport, there's no doubt about that, and I've enjoyed every moment of it. In saying that, it wasn't all that enjoyable over the last couple of weeks, but it's going down as one of the all-time great series and it's been great to be a part of it."

Ponting responded to Lillee's comments that Warne should be captain, and that he made more decisions than Ponting during the series: "I like to talk to a lot of guys out on the field and use their ideas and thoughts. I'll go to Gilly [Adam Gilchrist] and even Matty Hayden, Justin Langer, Damien Martyn. The guys who've been around cricket for a while, I like to hear what their thoughts on the game are.

"The way I think is not going to be right 100% of the time, but that's the way I do it. Shane has got a cricket brain as good as anybody around. But I wouldn't agree [he was the pseudo captain]."

Ponting admitted England had outplayed Australia in the series and he will sit down with team management and go over what went wrong. "We said all the right things and we trained very hard right through the tour, everything was as it would normally be," he said. "But it was in the crucial moments where we didn't stand up and that's unusual for this team."

Ponting said there was a burning desire within the team to regain the Ashes when the series resumes in Australia late next year. "I rate our chances very highly of getting the Ashes back," he said. "It's only 15 months away and I know the feelings around our dressing room were poor and that's the way they should have been, but there's a burning desire to get those Ashes back very soon."

Adam Gilchrist, the vice-captain, said in the Sydney Morning Herald that he had the "utmost support for Ricky". "I'd be really disappointed if this turns into some sort of public slanging match over who should be or shouldn't be leading the team," he said. "Ricky has been an outstanding captain up to this point and will continue to be so. He has the whole team's backing, I'm certain of that."