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Cricket historian and writer in Melbourne

In defence of Punter

Ponting may deserve criticism for his moves on day four at Nagpur, but he deserves a measure of sympathy as well

Gideon Haigh

November 11, 2008

Comments: 74 | Text size: A | A

Ponting's fault was not bowling whom he did but in getting as far behind the over-rate as he did © Getty Images

When Australia beat England narrowly in the dead Sydney Test of January 1987, having already lost the Ashes, a journalist at the press conference put a proposition to the visiting captain, Mike Gatting. Wasn't it really rather good that the hosts had won a consolation victory? Didn't he, deep down, feel a little sorry for the Aussies?

Gatting wasn't a man for baleful glares or even Simon Katich-style brush-offs, but he imparted some advice to remember. Beating Australia was always great, he insisted. And nobody, but nobody, should ever feel sorry for a cricketer in green and gold.

Under present circumstances, however, it's hard not to extend some sympathy to Ricky Ponting, who stands accused of surrendering the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with a single stroke of captaincy: a decision that seems to have set at nought all his previous achievements. Even the newspaper for whom Ponting writes, the Australian, has joined the accusers, having spun for him like Alistair Campbell all the way through Bhajjigate.

Indeed, Ponting might well have lost Australia the Test, but if so, he did it on the first day, when he lost the toss; ditto Mohali. It's no fluke that Australia's best performance during the series came the only time they won the toss. The way the Australian bowlers that Ponting didn't use have been described, meanwhile, you'd think he had Ray Lindwall, Dennis Lillee and Glenn McGrath at his disposal. In fact, the pace attack at Ponting's disposal had taken five wickets for the match, and on tour had paid 45 runs per wicket.

Where Ponting does deserve criticism is not in bowling whom he did when, but in so marooning himself behind the over-rate that such a choice became necessary, although that bespeaks a lapse in concentration rather than a failure of judgment. Having watched Dhoni's captaincy on Saturday, he may have been suckered into slowing the pace of game without realising the pressure it might put him under later. Australians are not hugely adept at defensive cricket, and weren't so even at their peak. In the context of the Antigua Test five years ago, where West Indies successfully chased 418, Adam Gilchrist comments in his new autobiography: "We were great frontrunners and liked to accelerate the tempo of a Test match; but when the momentum moved away from us we didn't seem able to arrest it. Once we were slipping, we couldn't slow things down. Our liking for a fast attacking tempo turned against us." If not then, it is now.

So in the cool light of day Ponting might wish he had made different choices, chivvied his bowlers earlier, thought ahead about his narrowing options. But cool light of day is hard to find in Nagpur in November at the end of a gruelling tour, especially without the senior helpmates on whose wisdom he has been able to call for so long. On Saturday, the ABC radio commentary team threw every toy out of the cot - pacifier, diaper and all - and they were only contending with a lost satellite link to Australia. Ponting made other captaincy calls that earned him no praise, but at which a lesser leader might have baulked, like first choosing then persevering with Jason Krezja.

Ponting has done the game a favour, by showing how neurotic we have become about Test cricket in these Twenty20-centric times

With all the praise and blame flying around, I suspect we are missing something. To my mind Ponting has done the game a favour by showing how neurotic we have become about Test cricket in these Twenty20-centric times. On Saturday critics were lamenting the day's poverty of entertainment, the teams' insensitivity to the legitimate expectations of the paying public. On Sunday they turned to lamenting an attempt by a captain to meet one of the arbitrary indicators that those legitimate expectations are being met: the requirement of 90 overs in a day.

By a mixture of ICC regulations and critical consensus, we seem to have arrived at a quantification of what constitutes a good day of Test cricket: a minimum 350 runs from a minimum 90 overs (bowled, according to the latest insistence, by specialists). The fine print in various broadcasting contracts probably dictates 375 advertisements and 87 pop songs too.

Yet how many great days of Test cricket have ever been exactly like that? Three of the most dramatic days of the Ashes of 2005 involved 407 runs for 10 wickets, 282 for 17 wickets, and 104 runs for two wickets - each of them super-saturated with tension, and yielding memories to last a lifetime. Glorious uncertainty sometimes entails profound disappointment; but without disappointment, excellence becomes prosaic, banal. Why is it that we are so anxious to guarantee Test cricket as an entertainment package? After all, this is a game, not a pop concert. It can only be because we live an age where a game crossed with a pop concert - Twenty20 cricket - is imposing its standards on everything else.

This has been a good series. Tight, tough, intriguing, rich in variety of skill, full of stuff to write about - for which every journalist can be grateful. In fact, the wrangling of the moment is a kind of tribute to the game's long form. What Twenty20 game could rattle so many bones of contention? For this reason, Punter, while Gatt reckons I can't feel sorry for you, I'd like to offer my thanks.

Gideon Haigh is a cricket historian and writer

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Posted by Aditya_mookerjee on (November 13, 2008, 13:22 GMT)

I don't think that Ponting captained badly, only that India played well. However, Ponting comes with the badge to India, of being one of the best, if not the best captain of Australia. In the first test, Ponting captained in a manner, which would have made Greg Chappell proud. It seemed, that Ponting was following Greg Chappell's mantra, on how to captain a test side. Greg Chappell is perhaps, a coach whose time is yet to come. I am glad that Mr Chappell is based in Rajasthan, and is working with the Rajasthan Cricket Association.

Posted by Biso on (November 13, 2008, 4:20 GMT)

Julian, I have stated facts. Aussies could not win the first test because of their poor bowling stock. Those who believe that Aussie quicks would have run through the tail, for sure and their batsmen would have got the 300 odd runs on the last day are positively speculating. The team has neither shown the resolve nor the capacity all through the series. No point fooling ourselves with fantastic speculation. The former greats who are crying about a 100% opportunity lost are only venting their frustration and covering the fact that the Aussie team had limited capabilities.Finding a scapegoat in Ponting is the real excuse for not willing to face the facts on the ground. I say again, if Indians had caught better, Aussies would have struggled to reach 150 on the last day. Hayden was patchy all through and his success upfront is a must.Haddin is no Glichrist. Even, Ghilchrist had mixed success in the sub continent. Ponting is yet to prove himself in India.He did not have the Ammo. Period.

Posted by maverick.anupam on (November 12, 2008, 12:39 GMT)

Those who truly understand the beauty of test cricket's impetousity and languidness can really know what you are saying. I enjoyed those sessions too that were described by Mr. Ian Chappel and company as boring though they were entralling. the real beat of test cricket was shown in this series of wits. Cricket is a cerebral game not like some 20twenty baseball that only requires brawns. I think the "death" of test cricket should rather be attributed to lack of appreciation & undersatnding of the transedence which test cricket offers and marketers pandering to Indian audience for lure of money who dont even have basic understanding of the game.

Posted by PBhanotha on (November 12, 2008, 9:50 GMT)

This is by far the most balanced article on the series. At the end of this, India has no doubt gained but cannot call themselves number 1. Likewise, Australia have dropped the high standards set by them and need to look for a sharper and more balanced bowling attack. SA is also a great team but don't have a balanced bowling attack and are therefore not considered number 1 team. Lots of comments were made on over rate in the last test. But as the author pointed out, if you are looking for 20-20 cricket, look elsewhere. If you enjoy test match and the original game, over rate should not bother you. Its the quality of cricket that matters. Anyone can employ a 8-1 field but to have a an accurate bowling attack consistently exploiting it is an entire different matter and can be appreciated by only those who understand the game well.

Posted by juliandsouza on (November 12, 2008, 7:15 GMT)

Biso, you can come up with any amount of statistics to prove your excuses. It's the result that matters and Punter let go of a golden oppurtinity to square the series and retain the trophy rather than worrying about being banned for the next match.He allowed India to regain the momentum and win the match instead of snuffing them out as we have come to expect of him based on previous contests.Downright stupid and shows a lack confidence.

Posted by rohanbala on (November 12, 2008, 6:44 GMT)

Excellent article by Mr Gideon and as rightly observed by Mr Sanjiv Gupta, the Australian captain has been at the receiving end of criticisms by his own former team mates. Australia did not lose the series due to bad captaincy, but because of factors like failure of their fast bowlers, White's ineffective bowling, loss of toss etc. It is a fact that Ponting lost the plot when India were 166-6 on the fourth day, but then he alone does not deserve to be blamed for the tactics.

Posted by jothirlit on (November 12, 2008, 6:30 GMT)

I completely agree with the writer. It was the same people who hailed ponting's move to bring micheal clarke to bowl in the sydney which the australians won. Even though there were controversies the last three wickets clarke took was legitimate. If the same thing had happened in nagpur everyone would have hailed ponting. Sicne it did not work starting from alan border to every tom and dick are blaming ponting. If he had used the fast bowlers and stiil dhoni and bhajii had played well what would these same say? they would say that ponting should have used slow bowlers to get wickets. It's easyto say something from off the field. Ponting did not have a great team of fast bowlers to fall upon like steve waugh or mark taylor or alan border. lets not make ponting the scapegoat. Even the so called stevewaugh lost to india in india. Mcgraths and warnes could not bowl out laxman and dravid after india was following on. its completely absurd to blame ponting on this.

Posted by Uppi on (November 12, 2008, 5:23 GMT)

Agree. On the last two days over rates should have been irrelavant. Game was exciting as it was.

Posted by Biso on (November 12, 2008, 4:15 GMT)

Have a look at these interesting stats which prove my earlier statement in this blog.

Posted by juliandsouza on (November 12, 2008, 3:40 GMT)

Not persevering with Shane Watson, after having India on the back foot in the 2nd session, was absolutely stupid on Punters part. You could argue that Brett Lee had little success through the series, but bowling Watto and Krejza in tandem could have wiped out the Indian tail before they knew what had hit them. Had they kept the momentum, the Australian batsmen would have risen to the occassion and carved out a win in all probability. This attitude illustrates the lack of confidence in the ability to win and thus play defensively rather than attack which has been the cornerstone of his captaincy previously. This cowardly act has turned what could have been a massive victory into a major demoralising set-back.

Posted by hornet18 on (November 12, 2008, 2:53 GMT)

I would have thought asking Brett Lee and or Shane Watson to bowl from a shorter run was a better option then pulling in Hussey. The lesson is to be recognisant of the overs remaining at every hour during the day to avoid the position in the first instance. Removing the emotion from this Australia were far from home and hosed at tea with India six down but the criticism seems based on the fact that we (Australia) had all but won the Test Match! I can understand Pontings obligations to try and bowl 90 overs and if he says that he bowled Clark and Hussey to do that rather then avoid a suspension then that is good enough for me. Ponting has shown many fighting qualities on the field for his country and in my opinion deserves the benefit of any doubt.

Posted by aussieump10 on (November 12, 2008, 2:28 GMT)

I agree that Ponting should have thought about the over rates before hand, he and the coach must take the blame for this. However my concerns are with our so called bowling coach, what is he being paid for. Aussie bowlers failed to reverse swing, Mitchell Johnson cant bend it back into the right hander which is a lefties main weapon and most importantly he should have all the bowlers able to operate off a short run. Surely Watson, Johnson or Lee would be better bowlers off 8 paces than Hussey. Come on Cooley pick up you game or hand back your pay cheque, your looking like an imposter that got lucky with a exceptional bowling attack (Jones, Flintoff, Harmi & Hoggy)

Posted by masterblaster666 on (November 12, 2008, 1:59 GMT)

rascally: One thing that seems to not be taken into account concerning over rates is the time-wasting done by Indian batsmen. Sourav's many changes of gloves.

Sourav's 2nd innings stint lasted precisely one ball. If you want to grumble about non-existent problems, at least do it with imagination.

Posted by maxfactor on (November 12, 2008, 1:06 GMT)

Easily the best commentary I have read so far on this entire series. Thank you, Gideon Haigh. Sad when even former captains forget just how hard it is to win in India. The last two Australian captains who have achieved this? Bill Lawry and Adam Gilchrist. None of the captains who have been slagging Ponting managed it.

As for the over rates issue, the best suggestion I have heard so far is for the lunch and tea breaks not to be taken until 30 overs have been bowled, with play to resume at the normal time. Allowance could be made for wickets (one over for every two wickets) and interruptions beyond the players' control, at the discretion of the umpires. Factors they might allow for would include weather delays (obviously), crowd disruption, maybe player injury or damaged equipment. Who knows, we might get back to the days when 100 overs in a day is normal.

Posted by bobagorof on (November 12, 2008, 0:27 GMT)

Perhaps the intense focus on Ponting's post-tea bowling decisions will prompt captains from all countries (including Ponting himself) to make an effort to ensure they are up with the over-rate throughout the day. For years, captains have wasted time setting and re-setting fields, having impromptu discussions with bowlers, etc instead of getting on with the game - and Ponting is one of the worst offenders. It is a sad indictment of the game (or more appropriately, the players and the administrators) that it takes the threat of a ban to force a team to do the right thing. That being the case, I would fully support banning players for other infringements, such as the amount of abuse (commonly called 'sledging') that goes on on the field. Banter, fine. Insults, no.

Posted by Mooses on (November 12, 2008, 0:24 GMT)

Australia lost not because of poor captaincy decision, at least not solely, but because of a cumulation of factors. Selection inconsistencies over the last year have lead to no spinner being bedded in, and then they have taken ill/injured/underprepared players into matches: Hayden, Lee, Haddin, M Clarke, S Clark. That is half the team! In the wash up from this series, Ponting has a chance to prove himself a better captain by acting to improve the team's over rates.

Posted by thesoccergod on (November 11, 2008, 23:58 GMT)

Beautifully written article.

I am no fan of Punter's, but I support Haigh's reading of the situation. Punter was left with no choice but to attempt, at least *attempt*, to keep up with the over-rate that modern day test cricket demands. What he did was costly, but it was by no means irrational or deliberately suicidal. As someone mentions, had Krezja picked up two more quick wickets, Ponting'd have, more likely than not, been "an astute tactian with a penchant for bold, unconventional decisions when the situation demands them."

One more thing I'd like to say. Haigh is right on when he labels 20-20 cricket a farce (he doesn't say that explicitly, but I believe I may assume that). It is more than just that though: it is blatant cricketing pornography; right from the attempt to "bring the game to a wider audience" to the crude "full-on shots" (best I could come up with) that define good batsmanship in this format. I just hope something can be done before the game devolves completely...

Posted by rubbishmedia on (November 11, 2008, 23:57 GMT)

Ponting's decision is being made a scape goat for Australia's defeat where the truth India would have won irrespective of who bowled after Tea. India already had 250+ lead and Dhoni was still there with the tails. We have seen in more than once occassions where Bhajji, Zaheer are good enough support-batsman India would have got a 300 runs lead anyway if not more. And who dint Poting bowl?Brett Lee, with 60+ Average in this series? Johnson, who dint look to get wicket after 2nd test? Watson was the only bowler who was bowling well along with Kreza. But we dont think he can run through a batting lineup. Do we?He is no Ambrose/Marshall/Mcgrath!So relax guys!!India would have won even if the target was 50 less.And why it is difficult to realize Aus has lost their edge with Mcgrath, Warne and Gilchrist? Moreover they dint bring Symmo, who was the difference in last Indian tour to down under. And now once Hayden is gone, Aus will face more troubles even against SA, ENG & Sri as well.

Posted by rascally on (November 11, 2008, 23:44 GMT)

One thing that seems to not be taken into account concerning over rates is the time-wasting done by Indian batsmen. Sourav's many changes of gloves. Getting someone to come out with drinks after being on the field for 15minutes, discussions with umpires, not leaving the field when injured but staying on for treatment. It's beyond a joke and I don't understand why this has never been mentioned in print media?

Posted by slugger1969 on (November 11, 2008, 23:41 GMT)

Excellent article Mr Haigh. Why on earth can I not read more of your stuff rather than the other drivel that is designed only to inflame. These other writers should go and get a job in the entertainment section of a women's magazine. I grew up in the early 80's listening to Australia get ritually thrashed (seemingly constantly by the West Indies). The gripe then was that the Aussie team was useless blah blah blah. Well guess what?? We turned it around and started thrashing the pants off everyone. Now we are arrogant, obnoxious, rude and, apparently, the only team in world cricket that sledges. So where is the middle ground? What would you have Australia do? Ponting was instantly condemned as the public (or journalists at least) seem to be waiting to pounce on every mistake. More balanced views from folk like Gideon Haigh would be such a gift. I think Ponting got into a situation he was never going to get out of as a winner.

Posted by dane-o on (November 11, 2008, 23:22 GMT)

Thanks Mr Haigh, for a well thought out article. How the fortunes of a captain change! Ricky Ponting was being hailed as a great leader for persevering with Krezja after his expensive start, and gave him every chance and plenty of support in achieving the fantastic (if two-edged) debut that he did. Other countries constantly accuse Australia of not playing in the spirit of the game, yet when Ricky Ponting makes a decision to stick to the rules, even if it might be at the expense of a win, he is lambasted all over the press. He must be thinking, how do I win here? Damned if I do, damned if I don't. If he had put Watson and Lee on, and they hadn't taken wickets, and Australia had been behind the over rate by 12, Ponting would have been under attack in the media anyway, for not playing in the spirit of cricket. I say he did the best he could in a hard situation, and certainly unless someone has been in the pressure cooker of a test match in India, they cannot possible pass judgement.

Posted by redneck on (November 11, 2008, 23:10 GMT)

he could try calling tails everyonce in a while!

Posted by mtjmirza on (November 11, 2008, 23:02 GMT)

ponting and co. have done the greatest mistake of their cricketing life by allowing partime bowlers to bowl after tea at nagpur test which allowed india to come back and post a very stiff, competitive and winning target. perhaps it would be more appropriate to say that ponting put his own interest above the teams cause. in fact, ponting should have guided the ship in the rough sea storm rather than taking the escape route. i think it is high time for cricket australia to sack a coward and selfish captain as well with the coach to set an example for future captains of team australia.

Posted by dutchy on (November 11, 2008, 22:57 GMT)

What lost the series for Australia wasn't Ponting's captaincy, it was the Australian selectors who kept picking three bowlers rather than four. White wasn't up to the job, yet he was picked in every single test. Also Watson's batting, for all his useful wickets, isn't up to test class.

Posted by InTJsOpinion on (November 11, 2008, 22:50 GMT)

Why is everyone being so blunt at a man whose decision to bowl Micheal Clark on the Sydney test worked wonders as the latter ended up picking the most important wickets to seal the test in Australia's favor. He is a part time bowler. Had M clark got tonked all over the park or even failed to win the test for Australia, the series would have been drawn. And he would have lost his captaincy. In some ways, when you dont have champions at your disposal; Captaincy is more like punting. Well and synonymous to his nick, thats what he did and this time failed. Immaturity from formet test captains is so obvious as they all take a blame at ponting. May be he was at fault, but everyone fails sometime or the other. Welcome to the real world, beating India in India is the hardest tast in Test cricket. So hats off to the Indians who put a lid on the Aussie steam can. And thanks for Punter for providing a hard fought battle.

Posted by chevaline on (November 11, 2008, 22:31 GMT)

12 overs an hour is ridulously tardy. There are numerous reasons for this. For example: play starts late after intervals; bowlers meander back to their marks; batsmen are not ready to face when bowlers are at the end of their run ups (as they are required to be); batsmen regularly consult between deliveries not just at the end of every over; fielders wander into position when asked to move by their captain; repeated hold ups behind the bowlers' arm; drinks brought on to the field every 5 minutes; batsmen are allowed to change gloves as often as they like; injured players are treated for as long as it takes without being obliged to retire hurt; TV replays for decisions on boundaries (when asking the fielder used to suffice) etc. etc. RESPONSIBILITY OF THE CAPTAIN AND UMPIRES.

Posted by Patrick_Clarke on (November 11, 2008, 22:09 GMT)

Cricket fans already risk being shortchanged by rain & bad light disruptions to a day's play. To be further shortchanged by teams unable or unwilling to bowl 14 overs per hour (when the extra half-hour per day overtime is thrown in that is all that's required) is unacceptable. Until recently Test venues at India v Australia series were sold out. Now the matches are played to empty stadiums and will continue to do so until this matter is addressed. The only remedy which will work is to award penalty runs at the rate of one run for each unbowled ball below the 14 overs per hour yardstick (eg 60 runs if 10 overs are not bowled within the specified limit)/ It would be straightforward to display provisional penalty runs through an innings on the scoreboard similar to how the Duckworth/Lewis figures are displayed and then apply the penalty at the end of each innings. For those appalled by this proposition I say that such a transparent deterrent will mean the sanction would rarely be invoked.

Posted by Chris_Howard on (November 11, 2008, 21:47 GMT)

You can't defend slow over rates in Test cricket. And also recent captains such as Steve Waugh should be careful, because they were guilty of slow over rates on many occasions too. So this is just a problem that grew from them not fixing the problem.

And I can't feel sympathy for Ricky Ponting because he is blinkered and won't apologise. Incredibly, he was quoted in this yesterday's Age as saying that his little talks each over aren't the reason: "but that might be 30 seconds in an over, that doesn't equate to nine overs down. Nine overs is 35 minutes play."

I'm sorry, if Ponting can't do such simple maths (90 overs in a day, by 30 seconds each equals 45 minutes) and can't take responsibility for the causing the slow over rates, he shouldn't be captain.

And it's incredulous that Tim Neilsen will defend him with the righteous attitude of making sure they did the responsible thing of bowling the 90 overs. The responsible thing is to not get 9 overs behind.

Posted by kr_kinshuk on (November 11, 2008, 19:47 GMT)

ponting's a mediocre who had a gr8 team nd hence one whose leading abilities were never exposed.........

whenevr a team (with a decent attack)'ll b able to get its act together, ponting'll b found wanting...............

in fact, only border nd 2 sm extent taylor appeared to b gr8 skippers to me......b'coz they won despite a side tht wasn't incredibly superior to the competition...... steve waugh, nd then ponting, inherited sides tht were never challenged on account of the lack of quality competition...........

nd i dont xpect australia to lose too many games even nw......b'coz other than india (nd mayb south africa) no other side seems capable of challenging this aussie side.....

Posted by swayambu on (November 11, 2008, 18:14 GMT)

To me it appears that everyone is missing the wood for the trees. Whoever bowls,the batsmen have to make the runs and Dhoni and Harbajan made them. They could have failed given the pressure created by the scoreline of 166 for6 for India.

Posted by 68704 on (November 11, 2008, 17:55 GMT)

Ramanujam Sridhar Yes the poor belaguered Australian captain needs all the help that he can get.Are"nt we all masters in hindsight? The bowling rates have slipped to appalling levels and it is okay for us to say that Ponting could miss the first test against New Zealand, but who was to say that Brett Lee would knock over Harbhajan, he had not been able to do it earlier , Harbhajan seems to fancy Aussie bowling! Yet it is important to remember that even the mighty Australian teams of the last few years has struggled in India , they have won only once in 35 years, thanks to a green top served up in Nagpur. Ponting"s major failure was losing three tosses in a row, not using change bowlers. India had a perfect match at Chandigarh, they could have beaten anyone there on that form. Australia will miss McGrath, Warne, Langer,Martyn , Gillespie and perhaps Gilchrist most of all. They will have to go back to percentage cricket of the late 80's but Punter could do with some support! Good one!

Posted by jokerbala on (November 11, 2008, 17:30 GMT)

You have hit the nail on its head, when you take note that aussies were never the best in implementing a defensive or restrictive mode of cricket.I feel aussies could do much better in the subcontinent with a more South Africa like approach(at least in India where the batsmen throw their wickets if they are denied scoring opportunities).

Posted by elsmallo on (November 11, 2008, 16:47 GMT)

I quite agree Mr Haigh. The match officials should have realised that to intervene with over-rate regulations at that crucial juncture in the match would be immensely damaging. I sat down with real anticipation to watch that session, surely felt by both teams and the crowd to be potentially match turning. As it was, the over-rate became the issue instead of the performance under pressure of both sides and captains. We will never know whether Australia had the guns to carve themselves a gettable fourth-innings target or whether Dhoni had the nerve to steer India through - in the event, the umpires inhibited Ponting and ruined the only passage of play where the match seemed to be going somewhere. The beef with Ponting over the pace of play should have been left until overnight. Test cricket's essence is in these tense patches where the match seems to hang in the balance and regulations should enshrine above all that they are left alone!

Posted by Graeme_Pollock on (November 11, 2008, 16:42 GMT)

In much of the analyses so far, I think one simple fact has been overlooked - no one has ever scored 300 to win a test in India. The closest that any side got to that was 20 years ago when WI chased 276, with Richards in his pomp, playing one of his greatest innings. So even if Ponting had used his regular bowlers, India would have still got sufficiently close to an overall lead of 300, as they were already over 250 ahead at the interval, with four wickets still to fall. Anything over 250 on the final day would have been beyond this Australian line up, on current form. I think the result of this test match was sealed once India got a lead of 86 in the first innings and followed it up with a near-century opening stand in the second. From then on, Australia could only hope to reduce the margin of defeat.

Posted by sfali16 on (November 11, 2008, 16:42 GMT)

Well-said Mr. Haigh. While I believe the mess that Ponting found himself in was of his own making, he still took the higher road. Infact had he finished off with a slow over rate he would've copped a lot of flak. Although the fact that I'm not the greatest fan of Ponting leads me to believe that he may have taken a different approach had been confident that Lee / his other bowlers would've blown out the opposition's tailenders. Since he was losing the series anyway, he probably didnt think it worth his while to bend the rules. It was funny how Dhoni's 7-3, 8-2 field was defensive and not in the spirit of the game and Punter's unsuccessful attempt at the same field (because his bowlers couldn't stick to their line) was not. Either ways Test cricket rules, T20 is a cheap pale imitation of cricket and is better left to Texan millionaires, a fact that Indian cricket administrators don't seem to get - this series was proof of it.

Posted by drneilmukherjee on (November 11, 2008, 16:29 GMT)

Perhaps Test cricket needs to be looked at differently. Rather than imposing fines (or suspensions), one needs to allow these tactics to be used. Afterall, one cannot guatantee pitches and playing conditions thats upto nature. How about a possible 6th day? Think of games losing a day due to rain or precious time being lost due to over-rates or bad light. Add a possible 6th day in such an event. Ofcourse there will need to be a couple of rules for allowing day 6 to accomodate the side batting 4th. But I really believe 6th day is the way to go in such cases.

Posted by sunny9267 on (November 11, 2008, 16:12 GMT)

punter should blame himself for being fined for slow over rates twice before,so he had to bowl hussey and m clarke to save himself from one test ban.the newzeland team now is the alltime weakest team(due to icl),so it seems ponting was making sure he plays the newzeland series than saving the BG trophy .also i agree 90 overs should be bowled in a day and early starts ,shorter breaks can make up for lost overs

Posted by TheGuruji on (November 11, 2008, 16:11 GMT)

Mr. Haigh,

I am very disappointed with the way you trivialize the Indian's win saying that, after all they won the toss. Australia could not force the issue after winning the toss in the first test and India could not after winning the toss in the 3rd test at Delhi. And I did not see you attributing Australia's series win when India toured last to tosses won by Australia. Why is this suddenly so relevant?

Please note that in the preceeding home series against South Africa, India and SA were tied 1-1, with tests being won by the team losing the toss and batting second. So, please stop making excuses and simply acknowledge the fact that the better team won.

Posted by billybob67 on (November 11, 2008, 16:06 GMT)

Here we go again, Indian fans blaming everyone but the Indian players for any of their problems. I can't believe that you lot think India is the victims of everything. Its not even what the article was about. Punter made mistakes during the series, like losing 3 tosses, but Dhoni's 8-1 field and his worse over rate on the last day , although not against the rules, were one of the lowest and cowardly tactics I have ever seen. Well done India on winning the series but it was closer than most people admit. Time will tell if India is really as good or better than the Australian team, but the truth is I think India is just hard to beat in India with a half strength (Australian) team and problems not always cricket related. Indian supporters, go back to exploiting your poor with the caste system etc and learn more of the reality of cricket, not just your nationalistic, chip on the shoulder, everyone hates us one sided view.

Posted by LondonRaj on (November 11, 2008, 15:32 GMT)

In my opinion what Pontind did was absolutely right. Most people are talking about if he had got Watson and Krezja he would have got rest of the wickets quickly and would have had a chance (just a chance not guarantee) of winning the match. But all those forget other factors like would the rest of the wickets really have fallen quickly. With Dhoni as steadfast as he can be (remember how he didn't give his wicket up on prior such occasions...), then also one can not just discount the rest of the tail. If it had come to forget-the-rules for the sake of winning, then just imagine what Indians would have resorted to next day to waste time... Mind you they are more innovative than any of the other teams. I think its a lesson learnt for Australia no matter what the outcome was.

Posted by HughL on (November 11, 2008, 14:51 GMT)

A very good article as usual. I despair about the way every sporting event is talked up in cataclysmic terms. It was a mature response by Australia to keep Ponting in his post after 2005- after all, he lost a series by the finest of margins against a team suddenly playing above their previous capabilities.

Now he's lost another against the toughest side to beat at home with a bowling attack shorn of legendary bowlers and suddenly he's a terrible captain again.

Posted by Rajesh. on (November 11, 2008, 14:29 GMT)

True, Ponting alone can't be blamed for the defeat and as the author says "Ponting may deserve criticism for his moves on day four at Nagpur, but he deserves a measure of sympathy as well"........... Bt one wonders if the same sympathy was extended to Anil Kumble ! After all Kumble has been one of the all time greats of this game and not just in India......... Kumble certainly deserved better

Posted by puntificator on (November 11, 2008, 13:28 GMT)

There is another aspect that may have slipped attention when judging Ponting's choice after tea on day 4. Although he was culpable for getting himself into that situation (again), you might ask what Dhoni's response could have been if Ponting chose to ignore over rate requirements. Many of Ponting's critics seem to call him selfish for not accepting accepting a fine or suspension as the price for winning the series. But could not Dhoni have decided to do the same thing? Could he not decide to take a fine for bowling 10 overs per hour, or less, on the final day as the price for winning the trophy? That might well be seen, rightly, as against the spirit of the game, but would Ponting ignoring the over rate requirement for tactical advantage be any better? Could Ponting's decision be seen as diffusing the tactical arms race that has pushed series between these two countries to the brink of sportsmanship in recent years?

Posted by prufrock on (November 11, 2008, 13:28 GMT)

If the part-timers had picked up a wicket or two it would have been hailed as genius. They didn't, and now Ponting is getting blamed for Australia's decline. No matter; everyone will forget in a couple of weeks - except the team, who will use if for motivation.

Just a quick observation on the comments here: I think a few of the fans overrate (if you'll pardon the pun) the depth of their insight. Generally, the Aussies struggle to win in India and the Indians (like everyone else) struggle to win in Australia. That's as it should be.

Two-nil is probably about par for the course.

Posted by masterblaster666 on (November 11, 2008, 13:25 GMT)

Beautifully written Mr.Haigh and it nearly made me shed a tear contemplating poor Ponting's plight but the beautiful picture is shattered when I remember his continual failure to keep abreast of the over rate. As others have pointed or no doubt will, Ponting faced this problem in the Perth Test against India too this year and again had to bring in part timers and let India off the hook. Nobody was flattered that he chose the most inopportune moment to honour the rules. Over rates exist so that teams don't slow down matches to secure a draw and seal a series - regardless that that was not Ponting's intention - , something which India would have done with full zest - the rules tempered such tactics in this Test, which did not stop Ian Chappell from crying foul - and which teams have done in the past too - England against India in the famous Oval Test where the latter bid to chase in excess of 400.

Posted by donthaveaclue on (November 11, 2008, 13:24 GMT)

Sure, the series exposed some vulnerabilities in the Aussies, but that was only expected in the post-Mcgrath and Warne era. What was more noticable was how both teams resorted to some ordinary tactics in trying to gain the upper hand. Test cricket needs some safeguards against negative play to ensure that viewers don't feel cheated by teams looking to protect leads. I've blooged about some suggested rule-changes on

Posted by Biso on (November 11, 2008, 13:18 GMT)

The following may be borne in mind by all while judging Ponting for his omissions and commissions. (a)The bowling lacked the class of the 2004 team who could bowl in all conditions. (b)Indians never gave a damn to Warne. Kreiza has done far better than Shane ever did against India. (c)The Aussie batsmen , including those of the great days who have recently retired were all suspect against the moving ball. (d)Aussies attack. But, against Indian batsmen they had realised in the past that it was more prudent to choke their 4's. Hence,7:2 and 6:3 fields with sweepers and third man were liberally used. Their bowling failed to execute.But,Indians choked the Aussies when it mattered. (e) Harsh to state that Ponting put his interests above the teams. He gambled with Clark to deliver once again. Of the quicks only Watson seemed likely to reverse.Lee was lucky to get Sehwag.It was no guarantee that the quicks would deliver. (f)Had Indians caught better and Jason not played. Imagine

Posted by aditya_sd on (November 11, 2008, 13:04 GMT)

I think too much importance is being given to the toss. In the 2001 series Steve Waugh had won ALL 3 tosses but they still lost the series 2-1. We should just accept that the Aussies were just not good enough this time around; well at least Ricky Ponting did!!!

Posted by Fej21 on (November 11, 2008, 13:03 GMT)

Your article is very much appreciated - it's a balanced piece, providing some much needed perspective on an intriguing and unfairly criticised tour. I've loved the intrigue and vagaries of proper cricket, and while i'm sad that australia lost, much of what has been written so far has been unfair and opportunistic. In particular, the hypocrisy surrounding the criticism of Ponting's decision to try and bowl the requisite 90 overs is unfortunate, and i do feel for the captain. Thanks Gideon!

Posted by dranand on (November 11, 2008, 12:52 GMT)

I cant fathom the criticism directed towards ponting's captaincy. I dont think even if aussies had a lesser target to chase[250-275], it would had made any difference. Over-rates apart, it has been evident that the aussie frontline bowlers hav struggled. Look at bangalore test. What if ponting did make clarke bowl in that crucial sesion of nagpur test. This same clarke picked 3 quick wickets in sydney tset earlier this year where the likes of lee&co could'nt do much. There everybody praised ponting bcos he had won.

I think we must give credit to indian team which playes exceptionally except banglore. Its up 2 them to keep up d good work.As far as d invincibility is concerned, I think other teams r catching up with d aussies to level d field. I still think Ricky is still the best man to lead d aussies.

Anand, India

Posted by yorvik on (November 11, 2008, 12:31 GMT)

I think Ponting has to ask himself why he allowed the over rate to drop so low in the first place and the authorities need to tighten up on allowing teams to simply throw the ball to part time slow bowlers when the occassion suits. Best idea in my opinion is to work it session by session. 30 overs per session and a 10 run penalty each session given to the batting side for each over below that figure. 15 overs per hour is not much to ask for and a session by session review of the situation would ensure the run rate was always in everyone's mind. The missing overs to be bowled before the interval begins too with a shortened break. A short break wouldn't inconvenience the batsmen too much but would inconvinience the bowling side if they couldn't have 20 minutes break at tea time. I'd almost guarentee that the 10 run penalty would rarely if ever happen because teams would magically find a way to bowl 30 overs in a session.

Posted by DinoD on (November 11, 2008, 12:30 GMT)

Well done Gideon. First article I have read that doesn't call for Ponting's head on platter. The former greats who have come out and bagged Ponting have lost my respect and it seems this is the only way some of these former players can get any attention. Unless the Aussies win by a healthy margin it is all doom and gloom. Both Ponting and Waugh captained 16 or 17 test wins in a row, with pretty much the same personnel. Does this make Waugh an average captain also? Ponting does need to accept responsibility for the teams performance, this comes with the territory of being the captain, and I don't think he is shirking this responsibility. And it was good he mentioned playing the game in the right spirit, by getting the overs bowelled. The Aussies have had a good crack at improving in this area, and it sets the right example to young cricketers and demonstrates that winning at all costs often is not the way to go.

Posted by Ravi_Sydney on (November 11, 2008, 12:01 GMT)

The author says, "Having watched Dhoni's captaincy on Saturday, he may have been suckered into slowing the pace of game without realising the pressure it might put him under later" - What a load of absolute rubbish! Mr Haigh you can suck up to Punter but lay the record straight, Punter has had this problem for number of years now, he was even fined in the Perth Test in January. Get rid of him Now!

Posted by mr.cruizy on (November 11, 2008, 11:59 GMT)

well said, it couldn't be summarized better than this. Australia losing a test series is a rare thing, but you cannot hang Punter for that can you? i mean there were other things that went wrong and he is blamed for all of 'em because he was the man in charge. how many great victories he has pulled the OZs way from defeats and yet punter is being treated as a man who has committed a crime and cannot be forgiven for that. an what support did he get thought out the test series for the guys pointing at him? in India its always like a warrior fighting and guiding your troops to a place from where you can escape un-hurt. i admire Ponting for his brave captancy and his excellend cricket mind

Posted by Springsam on (November 11, 2008, 11:45 GMT)

'Slow Over Rates' has been a major issue in this series with Australia.It has been an irritant constantly bogging the teams and the captains alike at all times and therefore requires to be addressed by the administrators of cricket sooner or later. '15 overs per session of 2 hours' appears to be too many if fast bowlers operate for a full two hour session as evidenced by violation of this condition so often by all teams in the past including in the current Aussie/India Test Series. Therefore some formula similar to 'Lewis Duckworth Rule' needs to be in place to assess if the teams are erring in over rates and penalise them in terms of runs. Fining the captain or the team is not a solution. Penalising in terms of runs would automatically put the team on alert and the over rates would fall in place

Posted by rkannancrown on (November 11, 2008, 11:34 GMT)

I think the article is partially correct. Ponting had limited resources and it would hardly have mattered who he used. The crux of the problem for Ausies has been that the Indian team is definitely superior - both in the playing side and the bench strength. The last Indian tour to Australia would also have resulted in an Indian victory if the umpiring had been fair. Bucknor & Benson won the sydney test for Australia. In India, the umpiring was better. Broad tried to help Australia by selectively targeting Indians and included, as a master stroke, the ban on Gambhir for Nagpur. ICC played along with a travesty of justice in not even hearing him. This backfired as Vijay batted well but fielded better than Gambhir with two remarkable run outs. In short, Ponting's tenure has seen Australia generally win due to noncricketing reasons. on this tour Dhoni & His boys deserve congragulations for defeating both Australia & ICC.

Posted by shamstein on (November 11, 2008, 11:32 GMT)

Finally, a man with sense and insight. Thankyou Gideon. Why is it that so many journalists say the same thing as the last? At least there's one man we can rely on.

Posted by Suchchin on (November 11, 2008, 11:28 GMT)

In terms of captaincy, Dhoni outthought Punter 100-0. period. His batting was pathetic and he was Bhajji bunny and Ishant Bunny. How can a team morale be up when their captain is bunny and has no clue against 2 of 4 opponent bowlers?? Punter dis not have the best bowlers and batsman on display. He picked 7 players over 30! 7 out of 11 are over 30! In sapping indian conditions, there is no way for these old men to perform. Punter never made a good tactical or strategic move in entire series. He was arrogant and points at others all the time. Its time for Clarke to eb captain and its time for young aussies to be brought onto Aussie team. As Greg Guru told BCCI, get rid of oldies including captain Punter and bring in Clarke and his team. Fire Punter since he will never give up his captaincy.

Posted by tusharkardile on (November 11, 2008, 11:10 GMT)

So now, we have a captain who indulges in too many onfield thrice-an-over conferences that last longer than the over itself; takes hours to set the field (thank God he does not carry a protractor with him); selects a spinner whose main role is to save the test batting at no. 8, (White bowled ONLY 93 overs in 8 innings)... and still is clueless why he is falling behind on over rates. And Gideon-the-great comes to the rescue of this innocent clueless kid!!!

Posted by CamGinMalaysia on (November 11, 2008, 11:06 GMT)

Some of the commentators I was listening to on Astro (SE Asia) were going ballistic at the over rates throughout the match. One ex-Indian spinner in particular took to timing the Australians between balls bowled while on air; I guess we know why he didn't time the Indians who were equally guilty. It is a hypocritical bunch of past players, commentators and armchair critics who now blame Ponting for trying to speed up proceedings. Furthermore Jason Krezja had a media frenzy at his heels after his practice match. Is there any wonder why he didn't play until it was too late! Plenty of other teams have half the winning record of the Australians and much less critical analysis. Why is this team and captain being given such a hard time. Is it because they have won so often that it is now expected and every failure must be blamed on someone. If it was a bunch of kids and not cricket fans criticizing Ponting and the selectors we would call them spoiled brats.

Posted by hitsamty on (November 11, 2008, 10:29 GMT)

Excellent points Gideon; the tantalizing thrill of a Test match cannot be determined by runs alone. Breaking down the batsmen, ball by ball, is also an art and it can only be showcased in this format.

I am skeptical however, about Ponting's justification for playing the part-timers. 'Spirit of the game' isn't a card one should pull out once in a blue moon, it should be part of a team's mindset.

Posted by dcs_fuji on (November 11, 2008, 10:15 GMT)

i agree with you (sanjiv) mate. ponting is a man who stands up for his team & always backs everyone up & also takes responsiblity for everyone's actions. Comparing him with previous captains & over exaggerating india's home victory against a depleted side that's yet to find answers is irrational & uncalled for. I say give the guys some time & lets all read the comments from u all on this page about australia & ponting then... (why do people always favour the victor & not analyze the game properly ? why why why....its very sad )

Posted by Blakey on (November 11, 2008, 10:13 GMT)

Thank god someone has gone past the hype of recent days. While I am concerned that Ricky chose to protect his playing future over the need to win the game, I am more concerned with the lack of performance of the team that he was given. While the batsmen all performed at some stage, the keeping (maybe you shouldn't be the countries keeper while you have broken fingers) and bowling were abysmal. To have to rely on Mitchell Johnson after only a handful of tests was a disaster in the making. I feel sorry for Brett Lee but the team desperately needed a huge effort from him and Stuart Clark. I understood the use of Cameron White ahead of Krezja. The lack of a genuine spinner is more to do with the expectation that Stuart MacGill would play for a bit longer, allowing the new spinners to develop. While I congratulate Jason Krezja on his 12 wicket haul, they cost him 30 runs each. How many games are you guaranteed to win when the opposition are going to make 600 runs. It's still less than 50/50

Posted by GlobalCricketLover on (November 11, 2008, 9:51 GMT)

I totally disagree with Anandana. People who feel that it is easy to captain a team with legendary figures such as McGrath, Warne etc, they are forgetting that while you are captaining such great people there is no reason for them to respect you unless you are either at par with them or even better. Otherwise, forget being the captain, you would be out of the team in the first place! Ask Mike Hussey how tough it was for him to get in to the team and for someone to become a captain of such a tough side? - you can only imagine! Any person who had captained or played in a team even at street level cricket would understand the difficulty of being a captain. The big difference between Australia and Pakistan is that, though they had very talented players Australia had very good captains right from Alan Border's time until today while Pakistan never had one replacing the great Imran Khan. We saw how the Pakistan team broke down inspite of such immense talent.

Posted by D.V.C. on (November 11, 2008, 9:49 GMT)

...cont. The same ABC commentary team Gideon mentions were able to spot the folly in not employing the best attacking option of the moment; they were able to do so straight away. It was obvious to many of us watching on TV as well. This wasn't the first time slow over rates had forced Ponting into an undesirable position in this series, he was forewarned. Managing your bowlers' over rate is a basic skill for a Captain. Even in Junior cricket there is this requirement (where I played we had to get our 30 overs done in time or lose one over for our chase for every 5 minutes we missed by). Essentially the Australian cricket watching public is flabbergasted by the fact that their national captain could have got such a basic thing wrong. They feel that it was Ponting's mistake and that he should have taken his medicine in the form of the ban. Instead, they feel, he compromised their chance of winning. After a similarly inexplicable (possibly political) under use of Katich they are seething.

Posted by DAN22 on (November 11, 2008, 9:45 GMT)

While I do agree that Ponting deserves more than a modicum of sympathy, I dont agree with Gideon on some points. Ponting didnt lose Nagpur because of the toss. He lost it before the toss by not playing one more bowler instead of Cameron White. That was very defensive and I am surprised that this move was not panned by critics. Also not using Krezja earlier in the series he missed a trick...Surely White's performance in the first 3 matches was not something to write home about.

Indian bowling attack at the start of the series read Zaheer, Ishant, Kumble and Harbhajan. Australian attack read Lee, Clark, Johnson, Watson and Krezja. With Kumble underperforming and Ishant a relatively inexperienced bowler both bowling attacks look equal. Amit Mishra replaced Kumble and on paper we might have had a slightly weaker attack, on paper at least.No all rounder either.

Ponting lost it because he wasnt used to being dominated and had no plan B. Who wants to bet against England regaining Ashes?

Posted by GlobalCricketLover on (November 11, 2008, 9:41 GMT)

Like most others my initial impression was that Ponting made a mistake, but I think it is mostly an emotional notion than a logical conculusion. We must not forget that the aussie fast bowlers never had much impact in any of the 4 tests. We are talking as if every time the ball is thrown to a fast bowler there was a wicket falling. It's his bad luck that the partnership got strong and they couldn't breakthru. We only need to look at the strike rate of Lee, Johnson etc for this series and things will be pretty obvious. Even if he had given the ball to Lee, I guess it wouldn't have mattered much.

Posted by D.V.C. on (November 11, 2008, 9:35 GMT)

Gideon makes some good points, and I agree with him in regard to defensive Cricket: it is part of what makes the game enthralling. As a side note I will point out that Australia were able to counter it on Day 5. However, I also agree with what eoinsmith001 has to say, in particular "Entertainment is a side effect of a properly played match." A match has been defined as no less than 90 overs in a day. To try and contravene that rule to win a game IS against the spirit of Cricket - here I agree with Ponting. For a minute on Day 5, when Dhoni was way behind the over rate (seemingly as a tactic to make it hard for Australia to score the runs they needed before it became too dark to see the ball), I thought Ponting looked a genius: his move the previous evening might have guilted Dhoni into picking up his over rate. Alas Ponting still looks inept. Gideon is spot on when he says Ponting should never have let it get that far (can't they run between overs?), and it is not hindsight. cont...

Posted by don69 on (November 11, 2008, 9:32 GMT)

While I usually find myself defending Ponting, I disagree this time. Ponting should have gone for a win even at the risk of missing the first test against NZ. The quicks were not as effective as predicted in this entire series, but there is little doubt that using Lee and Watson (with Krejza at the other end) would have given a far higher chance of taking wickets then Hussey or White. Drawing a series against India in India is far more important then a couple of tests against NZ in Australia, which can be won even without Ponting. Even had Australia needed just 250-275 in the chase, it would have been a tough one on a 5th day wicket, but at least it would have been a close contest. As it was, 382 was not a realistic target. I do agree the entire team is to blame, from the bowlers who take far too long to prepare, fielders who walk or jog to their positions, and the captain taking too much time to set fields. I hope the lesson is learned.

Posted by Baton100 on (November 11, 2008, 9:28 GMT)

I think it's the right time for ponting to stop spitting on his palm...& as Gillchrist has mentioned he need to have little patience while batting specially in test matches.,I think his mind set is wrong in sub-continent countries. Surely Australia is missing Shane Warne and Brett Lee is out of touch. I think that's why they couldn't do well in india. Also I think they missed likes of Kazprovizk this time and While Watson is taking 4-5 wickets easily I wonder what could have happen if there were McGrath or Warne in the side.

Posted by vswami on (November 11, 2008, 9:17 GMT)

"By a mixture of ICC regulations and critical consensus, we seem to have arrived at a quantification of what constitutes a good day of Test cricket:" Maybe thats the Australian point of view that 350 runs needs to be scored during a day to make it interesting .. in India certainly everyone enjoyed the battle of attrition on 3rd day between Dhoni's strategy and Australian batsmen's timidity in the face of it. 90 overs absolutely needs to be bowled during a day and it has nothing to do with Twenty20 ! This obsession to link everything to Twenty20 is a disease amongst journalists now. The language used by Australian newspapers recently has been appalling, with an unbelievable level of hostility. It has suddenly been directed inwards and Ponting is getting a taste of it now !

Posted by anandana on (November 11, 2008, 8:46 GMT)

Ponting is not a great captain and never will be one. Ponting acquired a great team around the core players of McGrath, Warne, Hayden, Gilchrist, Lee & Ponting himself. Now that part of his core team is sitting in the shades writing autobiographies, his team has lost the aura of invincibles and as a captain he seems to be following his team's fate as well. Make no mistake, Australia still is a very good team and Ponting a good captain, but not a great one. Hindsight, I think Warne should have taken over from Steve Waugh. Look at the way Warne captained the young players of Rajasthan Royals - Can Ponting do it?

Posted by eoinsmith001 on (November 11, 2008, 8:27 GMT)

To me, it seems rather off the point to relate slow over rates with this so-called "entertainment value". With all the fuss over Twenty20, it's tempting to judge all cricket matches by bullet points; "how many runs", "how many sixes", "how many wickets" and indeed, "how many overs", but as most people know, Test Matches are special for reasons beyond bullet points. However, I have a big problem with slow overs when they are used as a strangulation tactic; a deliberate negative strategy to induce tension, to cramp runaway batsmen, to slow the scoreboard and force a draw or deny a result. Of course, it's difficult to prove this, but don't tell me it doesn't happen. Forget this shallow "public entertainment" argument, as it demeans the public; anyone can see that the game *should* be played at a reasonable pace, and despite the "preciousness" of modern cricketers, 90 overs in a good day is far from unreasonable. Entertainment should be the side-effect of a properly played match.

Posted by SanjivSanjiv on (November 11, 2008, 8:05 GMT)

I admire your article Gideon. It is unfortunate, everyone starts pointing a finger on the loosing captain whereas, every move of the winning captain is appreciated. Human mind is a funny organ in the body! It says what it feels instead what it should think and say appropriately. If the part-time bowlers end up picking the remaining wickets (like Michael Clarke picked 6 for 9 in his previous tour) and had restricted India under 200 runs, and end up chasing the runs on the 5th day, he would have got all the praise from all quarters of the Australian cricket. What a pity! Sanjiv Gupta Perth Australia.

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Gideon Haigh Born in London of a Yorkshire father, raised in Australia by a Tasmanian mother, Gideon Haigh lives in Melbourne with a cat, Trumper. He has written 19 books and edited a further seven. He is also a life member and perennial vice-president of the South Yarra CC.

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