Ponting still open to pact on catches
Ricky Ponting, the Australia captain, has said that he was still open to a captains' agreement on taking the fielder's word on disputed catches despite the controversy that marred the Sydney Test between India and Australia earlier this year.
"I will have a think about it over the next couple of days," Ponting said, "and see if I think it is the right idea to bring it up again." However, he felt Anil Kumble, India's captain, would not be ready for a pre-series pact, and said he was disappointed with the hesitance of fellow international leaders.
"Anil [Kumble] was the one who didn't want that [a pact on trusting the fielder's word] after the Sydney Test for one reason or the other," Ponting said. "To me it's like flogging the dead horse, to tell the truth. I go to every referee meeting before a series wanting to play the game like that, but almost every other captain in the world is not interested."
Ponting himself had earned flak for appealing for a bat-pad catch off Mahendra Singh Dhoni on the final day of the Test, when replays indicated he clearly grounded the ball. Relations between the two teams were far from ideal during the series in Australia, especially after the heated Sydney Test, but Ponting said his team would aim to put their best foot forward.
"We will have a chat here and it's important to us, Australians, to ensure the play the game in the right spirit and embrace the culture." Ponting said the media perhaps hyped up the on-field tension during the previous Tests, and said he would be keen to talk to Kumble when the captains meet the referee.
"Anyway, we did meet during the middle of the last series before Perth Test [the one after Sydney] and spoke a lot about the way we should play in the remaining Test matches there. We know lots will be made in the media about the apparent tension between the wickets. But even in the last summer, the tension was not as high as it was made out to be."
He said the umpire review system, recently trialled in the India-Sri Lanka series, would not be in place for the upcoming four-Test contest. "I have heard very good things about it but I believe it won't be used till later this year and likely in our series against South Africa."
Recent bomb attacks in Delhi, the venue of the third Test, prompted fast bowler Stuart Clark told an Australian radio station he was apprehensive about visiting the city but Ponting said Clark's fears didn't reflect the mood of the team. "We have not sat together and discussed the [security] situation in Delhi," he said. "We are keeping in touch daily with the Australian security agency and they are comfortable with it and I think most players are fine with it."
|Even on the last tour, I was injured for the first three Tests, came back for the last one and we managed to lose it. I have worked really hard this time and would continue to do so over the next week and be good as I can be, come the first Test. I know it's all in my hands|
With the retirement of several key players such as Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Damien Martyn and most recently Adam Gilchrist, former Australian captains such as Ian Chappell have labelled the current Test side as the "most vulnerable team" Australia have fielded since they defeated West Indies in 1995-96. Ponting, however, was still confident about his team's prospects.
"Even in the last 12 or 18 months, when we were missing senior players, we have shown that our cricket is good enough to beat everybody," he said. "We know the Indians will play well here and at the moment, they are the more experienced side than us, but if you look at the last series, where we were rebuilding, we were still able to play a brand of cricket that was good enough to win that series."
Only four members of Australia's current squad have played a Test in India but Ponting doesn't see the new players like Phil Jaques, Doug Bollinger, Bryce McGain, Peter Siddle and Jason Krejza as inexperienced. "They might be inexperienced in Indian conditions but, they have actually played lots of first-class cricket which always holds them at a good stead."
Ponting admitted his Indian record has left a void in his international career but hopes to rectify it and carry on his team's success in the subcontinent. "Even on the last tour, I was injured for the first three Tests, came back for the last one and we managed to lose it. I have worked really hard this time and would continue to do so over the next week and be good as I can be, come the first Test. I know it's all in my hands. I know my mistakes that I have made in the past and hopefully I can rectify it and the team can continue on its success in the subcontinent."
Ponting's average in India is a miserable 12.28 from eight Tests. He has been unable to cope against India's spinners - he has fallen to them in 13 of his 14 innings in India. Ponting said he has been working very hard on his game during the team's one-week stay at the Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA) Academy in Jaipur. Greg Chappell, who is working as an assistant to coach Tim Nielsen for the tour, said Ponting could prove a worry for India this time around.
There had been concerns, among both the BCCI and the Indian media, over the extensive arrangements provided by the RCA for the visitors in Jaipur, and Ponting said their practice had been ideal. "It was perfect for us; I know there were lots of speculation in the media whether we should have been allowed to do what we did but as far as the preparation goes it was absolutely perfect for us. We played on different types of wickets and against lots of bowlers."
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo