I'm still the best choice as captain - Ponting
Ricky Ponting has insisted he remains the best player to lead his team in the Ashes. Ponting has overseen a period of decline in Australian cricket, with their 2-0 defeat at the hands of India pushing them to fifth place in the rankings, and has been on the receiving end of criticism from several quarters.
His former team-mate Shane Warne criticised his field placements on the final day of the Bangalore Test and former Australia fast bowler Geoff Lawson called for a change in captaincy. Ponting dismissed all talk of change.
Asked soon after his arrival in Sydney on Thursday if he remained the best choice for captain, he said: "Absolutely - I've got no doubt about that at all. I will give my absolute best as I always have since I've been the Australian captain … to be the best leader I can be and the best player I can be.
"I'm trying to do the best I can as captain to help some of these guys through some difficult times. If I get criticised along the way, I can't do anything about that."
The decline in fortunes for Australia began on their tour of India in 2008, when they were beaten 2-0. Since then they've lost to South Africa at home, lost the Ashes in England in 2009, drawn a series against Pakistan in England and suffered a clean sweep against India. The slide has ensured they will start below England, who are ranked fourth, for the Ashes in November.
"We were always very proud of the fact we were the number one ranked team in Test cricket and one-day cricket for such a long period of time," Ponting said. "Our Test form has not been as you would have liked. It's bad - no-one's proud of the fact we've lost three Test matches in a row. But I've got great confidence in all the players that will represent Australia this year."
Ponting's handling of offspinner Nathan Hauritz, who had a poor series, was slammed by Warne, who felt the captain was not backing his bowler enough. Ponting expressed disappointment at Warne's comments but said things between the two were "amicable".
"We've exchanged a few messages and I'm not hiding the fact I was a little bit disappointed with the Tweets that I read," Ponting said. "What he had to say was very unfair. It was pretty ill-informed comments. I've never been one to run away or be too big or too good for criticism. I take criticism on the chin and try and become better for it. I've got to put it behind me and move on."