ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

Australia v Zimbabwe, Group A, World Cup 2011, Ahmedabad

Ponting urges Haddin to score big

Brydon Coverdale in Ahmedabad

February 20, 2011

Comments: 32 | Text size: A | A

Ricky Ponting compares little fingers, Ahmedabad, World Cup 2011, February 20, 2011
Ricky Ponting said that his injured finger won't be an issue when he plays against Zimbabwe © AFP
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Players/Officials: Brad Haddin | Ricky Ponting
Series/Tournaments: ICC Cricket World Cup
Teams: Australia

Ricky Ponting has called on Brad Haddin to stop wasting his positive starts at the top of the order, as Australia search for the big scores they will need to defend their World Cup title. Haddin is one of the most experienced members of the side but he has been overshadowed by his opening partner Shane Watson in recent months, and hasn't made a hundred in nearly a year.

The Australians are in no doubt that Watson can go on and make big scores when it counts - centuries in the semi-final and final at the Champions Trophy two years ago are the proof of that - but they need Haddin to lift his output. During the home summer against Sri Lanka and England, he reached 20 on eight out of ten occasions, but his best effort was 54.

It was a frustrating trend for a man who has now had two years to prove himself as an ODI opener. In 35 matches at the top of the order he has made two centuries and averaged 33.58, and while his ability is not in doubt, Ponting would like Haddin, who is one of the leaders within the group and has at times been vice-captain, to show more application once he builds a platform.

"It's something we discussed throughout the summer with him as well," Ponting said. "We all understand, as top-order players, you have to make big scores. A 30 or 50 in any form of the game very rarely wins you anything. It's your responsibility as a top-order player to be in late in the innings.

"Hadds, sometimes I think the game can get a bit easy for him. He scores really freely and probably just gets a bit carried away with scoring as easily as he does. He needs to pull the reins back in a little bit, work the ball around in those middle overs. He still scores quickly - he's got that ability to score boundaries that other blokes don't have. He and Watson are really big keys for us. They both know that. I'm sure we'll see them play well."

A strong start against Zimbabwe in Ahmedabad on Monday would be a boost for Haddin, who made a duck in his only warm-up innings, but the conditions in the subcontinent don't always make it easy to get away briskly. And Zimbabwe are almost certain to open the bowling with a spinner, which will present a different challenge again for Haddin and Watson, who can both handle the slower men but enjoy the ball coming on to the bat.

"When you come in on wickets like these over here, it's hard to go in and hit the ball straight away because the pace of the wickets, and of the bowlers you're going to face, are a bit more foreign than we're accustomed to," Ponting said. "Even at the top of the order, we know Haddin and Watson are going to score pretty quickly, but Pup [Michael Clarke] and I are going to need to take our time to get set and make sure that we build a partnership and keep wickets in hand through those middle overs."

Unlike Haddin, Ponting did enjoy some valuable time in the middle during the practice matches against India and South Africa, when he made 57 and 55. He is on his way back from a broken finger that ruled him out of the second half of the Australian summer, and despite suffering some discomfort in the nets on Saturday, he was confident he wouldn't be affected during Monday's match.

"I haven't been too restricted in the practice games that I've played," he said. "The fact that I'd had four days without any batting was probably the major reason it stiffened up yesterday. It took probably until half-way through my training session yesterday that it started to feel right again. I've been fielding with it taped up because I just prefer a little bit of extra protection."

Both men returned to the nets on Sunday, keen to get their eye in before taking on Zimbabwe, but the real test will be when they face the stronger teams further down track. And if the top three of Haddin, Watson and Ponting fire against those sides, Australia will be well on the way to defending their title.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 32 
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Posted by Dummy4 on (February 21, 2011, 13:40 GMT)

I think, releasing comments against somebody in media within his own team shows there's lack of confidence in ponting's captaincy dis time around, where d 2 losses in row in practice matches might had worked as a catalyst.

I also wonder when people show a lot of respect 4 pontings captaincy 4getting d fact that d team he lead had likes for McGra, Symonds & Beven.

I always have a huge respect 4 McGra as a bowler, if v try 2 find matches wher he hadn't struc wid new ball, it would b very tough 2 find a couple even. He always ensured d opposition doesn't get a good start.

I'd love 2 c a win ratio of Aus wid & widout McGra.

apart from McGra the other impact player 4 Australia had been symonds in d recent past though he had never been a gentleman in or off d field but as a cricketer his impact and contribution 2 aus success cant' b neglected.

& last but certnly nt d least, Beven who not only won so many matches single handedly but also alowed d top order 2 play pressurfree.

Posted by Ravi Shankar on (February 21, 2011, 11:29 GMT)

Ponting asked Haddin to play a long innings, but i guess Haddin took it in other sense. He might have thought that he is asking him to play a test match innings so that he can bat out all the 50 overs. Poor Haddin. He was struggling against Zimbabwe.

Posted by M on (February 21, 2011, 9:01 GMT)

You have to feel sorry for Haddin though... understudy to Gilchrist all these years and now when he gets a shot at the big time everyone is telling him to move over and make way for a younger player... for me, Paine is the go... ... but he has to be able to do it without the added pressure of thinking a couple of spills or a slow low score is the end of a career... ... that said, there are a couple of guys ready to push for the spot if it doesn't work out.

Posted by Lou on (February 21, 2011, 8:58 GMT)

Haddin shouldn't be opening anyway. He's not Gilchrist and I wish the Aussie management and the skipper would stop pretending he is.

He'll throw his wicket away with daft swats and fail to rotate the strike all tournament as that is what he does. They should know by now.

Also if he manages to complete one stumping in the tournament, I'll be on cloud nine as he is rubbish against the slow bowlers.

Posted by Sharon on (February 21, 2011, 8:48 GMT)

Yes @5Wombats - agreed, Australia has crashed and burned since Ponting took over. He is a bad captain and bad role model. @dyson85 - since 1980 when has Australia been any lower? He is a bad captain because he says things like this to good players like Haddin. He has wrecked the careers of Hughes and Hauritz and they are just the ones I can think of - there are definitely others. A selfish captain who should go.

Posted by Hector on (February 21, 2011, 7:41 GMT)

@nineteenineteen......Sorry, Something_witty is right regarding Matt Wade. He is both a better Bat and wicket keeper than Haddin. The difference in keeping ability is massive. Sure Hartley and Manou are close in keeping abilty but when you take age as a factor you MUST go with the younger Keeper because of potential...he will get even better. Overall, with the exception of Lee and Watson, our best ODI team is back in Australia.

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 21, 2011, 7:24 GMT)

I think Ponting still holds the Key for Aussie to win this Cup. nd he alws perform when its BIG. Though the concern for aussie is there bowling... if Johnson fails to took wkt then its serious condition for Aussie...

Posted by Peter on (February 21, 2011, 6:36 GMT)

Doesn't really matter how any player from the major teams performs in the first 6 games. The format is a guaranteed to reward mediocracy. It is almost impossible for the major countries to miss the quarter finals and from then it's a knowckout. I note one Indian blogger has expressed his desire for Australia to finish 4th in Group A and meet India (who he assumes will top Group B) in the quarters. If Australia or anyone else finishes 4th in their group they deserve to be on the next plane home, not on equal footing with a team who's won the majority of games. If you want a serious competition then the top team from each group should play a best of 3 final. Of course this will result in dead rubbers between sides who don't deserve to be title contenders. I guess it all depends on whether you want a fair format or one where everyone still has a chance no matter how poorly they perform in the group stages.

Posted by wayne on (February 21, 2011, 5:54 GMT)

I agree with Something_Witty on every point except Matthew Wade - although I would prefer to see Tim Paine get a good run with the gloves first. But as a Tasmanian, I'd happily still see Wade get the gloves and claim him as one of "ours" :)

Posted by Neil on (February 21, 2011, 5:35 GMT)

@Naresh Kumar: Calm down mate. Greatest of all time?! I am just going to drop a few names in the hat here for you, which you might want to consider next time you make bold statements like that - Lara, Tendulkar, Kallis, Sobers, Bradman ( and I could keep going)

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Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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