September 29, 2009

Run, Ricky, run

The unthinkable is something Australia's captain must be thinking about, a lot
49

No Australian captain ever chewed gum the way Ricky Ponting chews gum, like a bulldozer pummelling the earth for bauxite. And when that bit's spent he spits on his palms and digs into his pockets and tears off another big white strip and mashes away some more, mouth open. Win or lose, it lends him a sinister air. But it's just that, an air, and it is the losing not the winning that people think of when they think of Ricky. It isn't fair. It just is.

Some 19th-century wiseass probably told Billy Murdoch he'd be remembered for one thing only and that was losing the Ashes in England twice. Billy probably laughed and said something like: "Balderdash!" And he would have been right, for nearly the next century and a quarter: first Billy was forgotten about, then dead, then almost never mentioned again, a little-read chapter in a Ray Robinson book. Until one day, in 2009, somebody else committed the hideous misdeed of losing two Ashes series in the old country, and then Billy's name was back in the newspapers, the serious and the silly ones, all English summer long.

Ponting would not be human if he wasn't right now feeling anxious about his legacy. The man who mucked it up, two times, that's how history will recall his captaincy, and he knows it is neither cliché nor mischief to say so. Murdoch's story tells him that. He cannot change it. No amends can be made here. This history is not for the rewriting. So what's the point in continuing? Ponting might wonder, as Allan Border did at the end, whether by staying on he is blocking team regeneration and "gumming up the works" - in Ponting's case, literally. When's the right time to leave, he might be thinking, and how will I know?

Bill Lawry didn't know. Lawry was sacked. They did not even tell him, or bother waiting for the conclusion of the 1970-71 series, a series of much grey leadership and snail-like batting, as if Lawry wished to punish the Board, Bay 13 and the entire Australian cricketing edifice for pressuring his men to play an unwanted Test in Johannesburg and making them sleep on kapok mattresses in Bombay.

The rough tenor, if not the circumstances, of Lawry's departure set a pattern. Seldom is it commented on, for proud myths are at stake here, but almost all Australian captains of the last 40 years have made a shambles of their exits.

Greg Chappell, preoccupied with business and family and wary of potentially arduous overseas trips, gave the captaincy up so many times that few people now remember when his actual exit was - rather than one exit, technically he had five of them. The first time it happened, when Kerry Packer spread open his wallet, brave Bob Simpson sailed to Australia's rescue; on tour in the West Indies, where Simmo ran the tightest of tight ships, several young Australians came to feel they needed rescuing from Simpson.

The board shouldered arms to Simpson's suggestion-cum-ultimatum that he be guaranteed a spot in the next Test, and the job passed to Graham Yallop. Yallop's final evening of a cock-up-strewn 15-week stint was spent plucking ignominy from certain victory at the MCG and watching gentle Sarfraz Nawaz reap 7 for 1. Yallop hurt a calf muscle in grade cricket the following weekend and waited for the board to call him back about the captaincy. He is still waiting.

Kim Hughes quit in tears and Border in a huff. In the end innuendo got them both. "The constant speculation, criticism and innuendo… have finally taken their toll," wept Hughes, Ponting's hero.

"I'm basically fed up with all the innuendo," grouched Border, to a Channel 7 mate, with whom he'd just played 18 holes of golf, during the course of which it sort of dawned on him that even if he was able to make a compelling case that he could bat forever and disprove the laws of ageing and gravity, the board probably wasn't going to buy it.

When Steve Waugh went, as with Border, there was a feeling that he just beat the hangman. Except that Waugh constructed a noose of his own, making his announcement in November and affording himself a summer-long farewell. Waugh's long, long goodbye produced more souvenir lift-outs than runs. On the second day in Brisbane he ran out his batting partner. On the last night in Sydney he neglected to invite his father to his party at his manager's house. Where Border offered loyal fans no opportunity to say goodbye, Waugh gave them so many chances that eventually the word started to stick in their throats.

That makes seven botched exits out of nine in 40 years, and only two Australian captains who left everyone wanting more. Ian Chappell stepped down after reclaiming then retaining the Ashes all in the one year. In his last Test as captain, the dreariest he'd ever known, he not only hit 192 but negotiated a doubling of his men's wages on the rest day. Mark Taylor, like Chappell, took action the moment he noticed his zest slacken. He retired as Australian of the Year, clapped out by a roomful of cheering journalists. Knowing that the series-winning fourth day against England in Sydney would likely be his last, he'd worn the baggy green instead of his usual floppy sunhat all day at slip.

Ponting would not be human if he wasn't right now feeling anxious about his legacy. The man who mucked it up, two times, that's how history will recall his captaincy, and he knows it is neither cliché nor mischief to say so

Fragments of these lessons from yesteryear might now be bobbing in and out of Ponting's consciousness. Already he has given up Twenty20 internationals. That leaves him playing matches of five days and 50 overs. "These days," he yawns in his latest Captain's Diary, "the middle overs in a 50-over innings are often boring" - and the middle overs are when Ponting does most of his batting! Has he looked at Australia's upcoming schedule?

"The bastards won't get me the way they got Bill," said Ian Chappell to his wife on the night he assumed the Test captaincy.

Thirty-five ODIs in 24 cities in 198 days: what a way for the bastards to get Ricky.

His recent 78 in the Headingley Test, a masterpiece of boot-a-dog-when-its-down belligerence, proved he remains Australia's most dangerous batsman. That's one good reason for staying. It is also a reason to leave, with head and average held high.

Whatever good comes now will never outweigh the bad that's already been. He can win another World Cup - but what's three worth, when you already have two? He can wrestle back the Ashes. He's done that before, in 2006-07, as well. He won't ever be loved, not as skipper, not by the cognoscenti. "Average captain," is Neil Harvey's on-the-record assessment. "Shit at the captaincy," is Jeff Thomson's. The more softly held views of the rest tend to land somewhere in between. When Steve Waugh was chaired round the SCG on his dragged-out, hanky-waving farewell lap, Ponting stood 20 metres away, hands behind back. Hard to imagine him craving a farewell lap of his own.

There is no clamour here for his head. No altogether satisfactory successor lies in wait. In some ways the question scarcely bears thinking about; some days he must think of little else - what point in continuing?

Money? Heck yes, more and more of it every ad break. Engine oil, deodorant cans, fried chicken, bats, milk, sunglasses, Xbox games, multivitamin pills, Swiss watches… thus is the transformation from Punter to Plugger to the Endorsinator complete.

But how much more does the man who has nearly everything - including Allan Border's run record - need? A shiny, spotless perch in all our memories? Too late for that. Why not just go?

Christian Ryan is a writer based in Melbourne. He is the author of Golden Boy: Kim Hughes and the Bad Old Days of Australian Cricket, published in March 2009

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • JFAB on October 1, 2009, 13:46 GMT

    What you and every commentator and writer seem to keep forgetting is that Ponting also (quite unlike Billy Murdoch) presided over only the second ever 5-0 Ashes win by an Austraian captain, outstripping EVERY other captain bar Warwick Armstrong. Selective memory and selective history are poor traits, especialy in journalism

  • sakiki on October 1, 2009, 12:08 GMT

    Talk ofRP's retirement from the test and 50-over arena is surely somewhat premature! He is still one of the best batsmen in world cricket at the No 3 position; it's not an easy spot to fill (just look at the problems England have had over the past more-than-a-few years) and his grit and determination are invaluable. He may not be the greatest captain that Australia have ever fielded (that was probably Waugh) but he must keep his place in the team for his batting even if he relinquishes the captaincy. And there's no reason why he shouldn't play under someone else's captaincy; many teams do very well with an ex-captain or two in the lineup - just look at Sri Lanka. Sheer ability with the bat will allow him to carry on if he wishes - and as I write this on Thursday, I wouldn't bet against Australia picking up another 2 wins in the current ICC Champions Trophy. And I'm English!

  • obstreperous on October 1, 2009, 6:14 GMT

    Christian is always entertaining and this piece is no exception. However, he has overcooked the thesis. In short, Christian's argument is that, like Billy Murdoch, Ponting is a victim of history, so he might as well toss in the captaincy now and save himself any further bother. But the history lesson is flawed. Billy is not remembered as the bloke who lost the Ashes twice, despite the efforts of today's media. On this very website, Billy is lauded as having, in his day, "no serious rival among Australian batsmen, and except WG Grace scarcely a superior in England." Not a bad tribute for any Aussie batsman and one I believe that applies equally well to Ponting today. Ricky will be remembered, when he does eventually step down as captain, as a great cricketer. Moreover, I find it hard to take Jeff Thomson's views on captaincy too seriously. The cricket writers (and a few cricketers) make too much of the art of captaincy when some of us are content just to see great players play.

  • hogan11 on October 1, 2009, 3:50 GMT

    I think some readers are missing the point here, what the writer is trying to do, and quite successfully really is generate some debate about the how's and why's surrounding Pointing's retirement, (that's the way I read it anyway). There isn't any issue as to Pointing's creditentials as a captain or as a player so what else is there? How to go out on your own terms, as the writer succiently concluded something that has eluded some of the greatest Australian captians.

  • __PK on October 1, 2009, 2:36 GMT

    I hope non-Australian readers of this piece of head-hunting realise the the views expressed are those of a representative of an Australian media who have never forgiven Ponting for winning against India in Sydney, when they had already criticised him for blowing it, and then having the hide to point this fact out. When Ponting retires, his farewell will be comparable with that of McGrath, Warne, Waugh and all the other recent Australian greats. As for Taylor not botching his exit, Mr Ryan has conveniently forgotten the last several years of his career, when he could barely get past 50 and everyone outside of his home state were, to paraphrase Ian Chappell, asking "Why not?", instead of "Why?".

  • PhilGoorha on October 1, 2009, 0:00 GMT

    "I know it's not one person's fault. Ricky's been a fantastic leader throughout my whole career. He was inspirational at times during this Ashes series and he wanted to win as much as anybody", said Michael Clarke after Australia's massive annihilation at the hands of an ordinary England. Fantastic leader and inspirational at times, said Clarke of Ponting by way of further eulogy. "At times" is the operative phrase here. But then, we shouldn't expect better from a sworn Ponting acolyte. He rests assured that, with rare exceptions, the Aussie-Combine comprising Cricket Australia, jingoistic press and macho followers would put reason on the back-burner and succumb to seeing his explanations his way. So, Mr Ryan. Ricky runs out, and Clarke runs in; the worst case of ordinary sameness I ever saw.

  • devlsmurf on September 30, 2009, 21:09 GMT

    It seems many here are missing the point. At no point is Ponting described as a mediocre player, and the writer himself does not even say Ponting is a bad captain, even though he points out the thoughts of others. Having watched cricket since I was a kid, it's a true fact, that Austrailans tend to kick their own, as the comments about former captains suggest, and that a lot of them tend to cling to their "greatness" as captain of Australia's cricket team, instead of taking a step back, asking "what can I contribute to the team now?." It is fact that Pontings contributions are diminishing, not to the point where they are "bad", however he is 34, and very few batsmen can claim to be "great" batsman after this age. Even the great Don started diminishing later on in his career, war, and poor health no doubt contributing.

    The world cup is coming soonish, time for Ponting to take a step to the side and make way for someone else to come through. He's gotta go sometime......

  • anilkp on September 30, 2009, 16:10 GMT

    A serious set of questions to Cricinfo editorial unit: do you really read all articles before you publish them? Do you also analyse them and then decide to publish? If yes, do you have some set notions for qualification? If yes, may we--the valued readers and followers of our much loved Circinfo--know about it? Then, do you give any value to your readers as well? And, finally, would you kindly care to tell us why at all this article was published? Is this an article? Is this a satire, a humor, a critical analysis, a proactive suggestion that talks about unbiased aspects of the game or its players?

  • NumberXI on September 30, 2009, 6:31 GMT

    Ponting still probably has some fight left in him as a batsman - and with a home series v a depleted WI looming, he will probably fill his boots and right his dwindling average. But he probably never was in the same league as Waugh as captain, nor even as good as the perpetual non-captain Warne. If he should hang on, it is as a batsman because Aussie cricket needs a more inspirational leader - whether they do have someone is another question altogether. As for his record in successes, post-November 2007 and the retirement of Warne and McGrath, his performances have been a truer reflection of his role in the team. Australia have not won as consistently as they used to, and Ponting has not batted them to too many wins either - now he probably knows what Lara or India's batsmen have to contend with when they don't have the bowling to win them matches.

  • dutchy on September 29, 2009, 23:43 GMT

    Reading these comments it strikes me that Ponting seems a lot more popular outside Australia than in his own country.

  • JFAB on October 1, 2009, 13:46 GMT

    What you and every commentator and writer seem to keep forgetting is that Ponting also (quite unlike Billy Murdoch) presided over only the second ever 5-0 Ashes win by an Austraian captain, outstripping EVERY other captain bar Warwick Armstrong. Selective memory and selective history are poor traits, especialy in journalism

  • sakiki on October 1, 2009, 12:08 GMT

    Talk ofRP's retirement from the test and 50-over arena is surely somewhat premature! He is still one of the best batsmen in world cricket at the No 3 position; it's not an easy spot to fill (just look at the problems England have had over the past more-than-a-few years) and his grit and determination are invaluable. He may not be the greatest captain that Australia have ever fielded (that was probably Waugh) but he must keep his place in the team for his batting even if he relinquishes the captaincy. And there's no reason why he shouldn't play under someone else's captaincy; many teams do very well with an ex-captain or two in the lineup - just look at Sri Lanka. Sheer ability with the bat will allow him to carry on if he wishes - and as I write this on Thursday, I wouldn't bet against Australia picking up another 2 wins in the current ICC Champions Trophy. And I'm English!

  • obstreperous on October 1, 2009, 6:14 GMT

    Christian is always entertaining and this piece is no exception. However, he has overcooked the thesis. In short, Christian's argument is that, like Billy Murdoch, Ponting is a victim of history, so he might as well toss in the captaincy now and save himself any further bother. But the history lesson is flawed. Billy is not remembered as the bloke who lost the Ashes twice, despite the efforts of today's media. On this very website, Billy is lauded as having, in his day, "no serious rival among Australian batsmen, and except WG Grace scarcely a superior in England." Not a bad tribute for any Aussie batsman and one I believe that applies equally well to Ponting today. Ricky will be remembered, when he does eventually step down as captain, as a great cricketer. Moreover, I find it hard to take Jeff Thomson's views on captaincy too seriously. The cricket writers (and a few cricketers) make too much of the art of captaincy when some of us are content just to see great players play.

  • hogan11 on October 1, 2009, 3:50 GMT

    I think some readers are missing the point here, what the writer is trying to do, and quite successfully really is generate some debate about the how's and why's surrounding Pointing's retirement, (that's the way I read it anyway). There isn't any issue as to Pointing's creditentials as a captain or as a player so what else is there? How to go out on your own terms, as the writer succiently concluded something that has eluded some of the greatest Australian captians.

  • __PK on October 1, 2009, 2:36 GMT

    I hope non-Australian readers of this piece of head-hunting realise the the views expressed are those of a representative of an Australian media who have never forgiven Ponting for winning against India in Sydney, when they had already criticised him for blowing it, and then having the hide to point this fact out. When Ponting retires, his farewell will be comparable with that of McGrath, Warne, Waugh and all the other recent Australian greats. As for Taylor not botching his exit, Mr Ryan has conveniently forgotten the last several years of his career, when he could barely get past 50 and everyone outside of his home state were, to paraphrase Ian Chappell, asking "Why not?", instead of "Why?".

  • PhilGoorha on October 1, 2009, 0:00 GMT

    "I know it's not one person's fault. Ricky's been a fantastic leader throughout my whole career. He was inspirational at times during this Ashes series and he wanted to win as much as anybody", said Michael Clarke after Australia's massive annihilation at the hands of an ordinary England. Fantastic leader and inspirational at times, said Clarke of Ponting by way of further eulogy. "At times" is the operative phrase here. But then, we shouldn't expect better from a sworn Ponting acolyte. He rests assured that, with rare exceptions, the Aussie-Combine comprising Cricket Australia, jingoistic press and macho followers would put reason on the back-burner and succumb to seeing his explanations his way. So, Mr Ryan. Ricky runs out, and Clarke runs in; the worst case of ordinary sameness I ever saw.

  • devlsmurf on September 30, 2009, 21:09 GMT

    It seems many here are missing the point. At no point is Ponting described as a mediocre player, and the writer himself does not even say Ponting is a bad captain, even though he points out the thoughts of others. Having watched cricket since I was a kid, it's a true fact, that Austrailans tend to kick their own, as the comments about former captains suggest, and that a lot of them tend to cling to their "greatness" as captain of Australia's cricket team, instead of taking a step back, asking "what can I contribute to the team now?." It is fact that Pontings contributions are diminishing, not to the point where they are "bad", however he is 34, and very few batsmen can claim to be "great" batsman after this age. Even the great Don started diminishing later on in his career, war, and poor health no doubt contributing.

    The world cup is coming soonish, time for Ponting to take a step to the side and make way for someone else to come through. He's gotta go sometime......

  • anilkp on September 30, 2009, 16:10 GMT

    A serious set of questions to Cricinfo editorial unit: do you really read all articles before you publish them? Do you also analyse them and then decide to publish? If yes, do you have some set notions for qualification? If yes, may we--the valued readers and followers of our much loved Circinfo--know about it? Then, do you give any value to your readers as well? And, finally, would you kindly care to tell us why at all this article was published? Is this an article? Is this a satire, a humor, a critical analysis, a proactive suggestion that talks about unbiased aspects of the game or its players?

  • NumberXI on September 30, 2009, 6:31 GMT

    Ponting still probably has some fight left in him as a batsman - and with a home series v a depleted WI looming, he will probably fill his boots and right his dwindling average. But he probably never was in the same league as Waugh as captain, nor even as good as the perpetual non-captain Warne. If he should hang on, it is as a batsman because Aussie cricket needs a more inspirational leader - whether they do have someone is another question altogether. As for his record in successes, post-November 2007 and the retirement of Warne and McGrath, his performances have been a truer reflection of his role in the team. Australia have not won as consistently as they used to, and Ponting has not batted them to too many wins either - now he probably knows what Lara or India's batsmen have to contend with when they don't have the bowling to win them matches.

  • dutchy on September 29, 2009, 23:43 GMT

    Reading these comments it strikes me that Ponting seems a lot more popular outside Australia than in his own country.

  • Quazar on September 29, 2009, 19:42 GMT

    The man is still a class above all his teammates, Ryan...way too early for retirement. (Btw, 'Sorcerer'...aggregate career wins are a function of the calibre of the teams one has played for...not of an individual's calibre. If you need a simple example, Brian Lara's greatest batting series (arguably) came in SL in 2000 - Murli and Sanga still rave about it! - when he scored a WR 688 runs in a 3-test series...but the WI team lost 3-0!!! Clearly, team results can't perfectly capture the calibre of a player...just ask Grame Smith's fans after his heroic 141 the other night!)

  • figjam84 on September 29, 2009, 19:35 GMT

    I think you need to take another look at australian cricket and relise that without ponting there is no backbone in the ausralian side. The man is an absolute bloody legend and the best australia and the world have seen since bradman. Without this world class captain australia is just another average side. You dont brake records and win 17 strait tests and 2 consecutive world cups for being a poor captain. The man is a true legend and as long as he keeps making fluent runs in a style that kills any other batsman in past present and future cricket he deserves to stay on and play. I along with most other australians want him to play for more years to come!

  • kamramanish on September 29, 2009, 19:32 GMT

    thats not the case mate.... if you allways win then you loose the taste of victory, loosing a series or two is not as important as showing the resilleince and the mettle to rise and reach the top and further incerasing the limits, and to intransigently chase it... there will be zeinths and nadirs but the real captain is the one who has the grit to win it back. PONTING is the one of the most gritty sportsperson, who fights against all odds. he is the venerable one, one to deify. Loosing ashes is not as big as the regaining and maintaing the no.1 spot without greatest batsman and bowlers that aus always had.And to garner new talents and transform them to the class of hayden ,gilly, warne and mcgrath...

  • Avid.Cricket.Watcher on September 29, 2009, 19:27 GMT

    It would be a pity for world cricket if greats like Ponting and Tendulkar retired in the near future, since both are still batting masterfully. The writer might have had a point if he were only talking about captaincy...but I can't imagine why any Australian would want to lose Ponting the batsman just yet!

  • Quazar on September 29, 2009, 19:20 GMT

    Ponting is still a fabulous batsman, and it's silly to start the retirement talk, especially given his current form and fitness. But I guess writers have to write about something. As for personal ambitions, there is nothing wrong if he is motivated to become the highest run getter in Tests. Although aggregate career runs don't make one great batsman superior to other greats, in my book - I still believe Lara will be remembered as infinitessimally above Tendulkar, who in turn is infinitessimally above Ponting. (Although when you're that good, the ordering can never be indisputable)

  • gmoturu on September 29, 2009, 18:01 GMT

    Sorcerer i agree Ponting is on of the greats of modern cricket. but Ponting won so many games because Australia always had great batsman and great bowlers through out his time. Now, take out those great batsman and bowlers which is the Australian team now and see that he has not won many test matches. this had always been the case with Lara and Sachin (who always had enormous pressure to carry their team) who never had either good bowling side or good batting side. hence they don't have many wins. its only because of his team mates he had good statistics.

  • jayray999 on September 29, 2009, 14:16 GMT

    Finally someone who actually learned how to write. Kudos!

  • Sorcerer on September 29, 2009, 11:36 GMT

    For one, there is more to international career and cricket than just the Ashes. Ponting has featured in most Test wins of all players in the history of the game, and that is a far more accomplished piece of statistics than one can ever conjure upo - no less than 89 Test wins! By extension, his career sums up thus the tale of the most successful cricketer ever too. The way it looks to be heading, when he bows out he would have featured in more than a century of victorious Tests.

    Ponting is on the verge of ammassing more than 10,000 Test runs this decade and no other batsman is near him in terms of performances in the last decade as his record is most balanced and simply unmatchable. Retiring now to keep personal pride would be tantamount to utter selfishness as he now is shouldering the responsibility of resurrecting the Aussie side after the exodus of so many brilliant players. Australia and its cricket team needs him and he needs to stay for another three or four years at least.

  • Veyron on September 29, 2009, 10:49 GMT

    Wow, enlightening stuff Christian. Thanks for wasting 5 minutes of my life.

  • Sandyn88 on September 29, 2009, 10:15 GMT

    why do pple always turn a good healthy conversation into something personal and naive? this article has not mentioned Sachin or India anywhere...fair enough pple are saying that Ponting might play as long as he trails Sachin's records but why include sentences such as "India's one eyed fans would be mute"?? i think most Indian fans respect and admire good teams and players no matter where they are from...cricinfo staff shud see this before they publish comments from pple who are looking to create a senseless argument at best...

  • bibhutiking on September 29, 2009, 10:13 GMT

    its a bit frustrating hearing about ricky's captaincy. but then nobody talks about australia's current team ricky's heading. they have to play with makeshift openers even in tests. The case had never been the same for aussies as ever. Also there bowling attack is listless now a days. When it comes to batting ricky is the only dangerous batsman in the team for at least last two or three years. Dont blame it on ricky. And friend here in india thinks ricky should be dropped just because he is a threat to tendulkar's record.

  • squidhead on September 29, 2009, 10:04 GMT

    I really don't get this article. So much seems wide of the mark. Yep, fine, he'll probably be remembered as the guy who lost the Ashes twice, but if it consumes him like the author suggests he...up and quits? Huh? After all the talk of coming back to England? Of staying on even if under Clarke's captaincy? FWIW I doubt his would be much different, btw, let alone better. And since when has Ponting shown the slightest concern for what Harvey and Thomson have to say, even if they were the "cognoscenti"? They're not anyway, and you know it. And the idea he's hanging on just for the money is odd too, given he skipped the IPL to concentrate on internationals. He's made his plans clear enough, and he is still by a margin Australia's best bat. Maybe this article will be relevant in another 18-24 months, but not yet. FWIW, too, I can't see Ponting running down either of Tendulkar's records - he's not going anywhere either, just yet - and I don't think either one of them cares too much.

  • TheDoctor394 on September 29, 2009, 10:00 GMT

    I think way too much is made of Ponting losing the Ashes twice in England. How many Australian captains have actually done more than one Ashes tour as captain anyway? He's had his faults but, overall, he's got an outstanding record as captain (not to mention his batting), and I think the amount of critism he has got from his own countrymen is ludicrous.

  • AndyD69 on September 29, 2009, 9:47 GMT

    Jeez, and I thought English journalists were always kicking their own. As an England fan, I hope Ricky is still around in Oz for the next Ashes. Sure, when he's mid-knock, I'd love to see him peppered by the bowlers, by fielders and passing pigeons, but as a sportsmen you have to hold your hands up and say he's been truly awesome. He's the first guy you want heading back to the pavilion, the guy you know you have to get through to win a test. As good as Clarke, and maybe one or two others are, they just don't cut it in the same way. His (past) arrogance and belligerence have made him an easy scapegoat in the media, but it's no surprise that his apparent lack of said A and B during this Ashes series, made the task easier for England. I must say, his 'check the stats, how did we lose' googlie, sadly spoke to me of a cricketer in decline, because in days of old his team wouldn't have sat down in the big moments that England stood up and performed; which is what test cricket is all about.

  • Optimistix on September 29, 2009, 9:43 GMT

    Ricky is still batting beautifully, maybe you haven't been following the tournament currently underway in South Africa? It would be one thing to question his captaincy, but you seem to want him to retire altogether. What nonsense. And all this speculation about what he "must" think - as if you could read his mind! As some other readers have asked, what is the point of your article?

    While Cricinfo remains a great site, there are too many people writing too many articles, many of which are disappointing to read. It would be great if some of the dross were to be discontinued.

  • Theena on September 29, 2009, 9:12 GMT

    I usually find myself nodding in agreement to yours and Gideon Haigh's writing, but this is the rare exception. I do not think Australia can afford to be without Ricky in the short/medium term - say until the next Ashes in England. The team is too young and Clarke hasn't still hit his peak as a batsman to be given the additional burden of captaining a team, let alone a team that is at the start of a rebuilding phase.

  • chandau on September 29, 2009, 8:46 GMT

    "4 more years mate - 4 MORE YEARS" Greegan to Kelleher. A line from the Rugby World Cup semi final beween Wallabies and All Blacks 2005. Guess it applies to punter as well. It is most likely he will become the next best to Sachin by the year 2014. cheers :)

  • victortrumpet on September 29, 2009, 8:39 GMT

    Michael Clarke would be a significantly better captain than Ponting, and would have been over the last three years. Unfortunately the selectors aren't as sagacious as I am, and Ponting's gravitas within Cricket Australia is such that they'll never oust him. Ponting however, remains Australia's best batsman, and indeed one of the best batsman in the world, along with Tendulkar, Smith, KP and Sehwag. It's a shame really, because if his limited intellectual capacity was focused on batting alone, surely he would take all of Tendulkar's records and India's one eyed fans would be mute. As it stands he will only take the Test record. But the Indian fans can rightly crow - cricket Australia and Ponting - are their dumbest foe.

  • balajikrishn on September 29, 2009, 8:38 GMT

    Ricky's consistency with the bat hasnt been the same over the last few years...And this certainly suggests he is past his prime.He has been a great cricketer all these years and he should leave cricket with his head held high..He shudnt let any other person to chuck him out of the team..Evn a doubt over credentials and position in the team would be a blot in such a wonderful career..No-one questions his position in the team nw..Perhaps this shud be the right time for him to call it quits..

  • Gizza on September 29, 2009, 8:10 GMT

    There is a difference between Tendulkar and Ponting. Both have already achieved massive things individually but there is a big gap in what their teams have achieved. Ponting has been part of three successful World Cups and captained two of those. Tendulkar has played in one losing WC final. Ponting has been part of a team that has won Test series in every single Test nation. India in recent times have won in England and Pakistan but have yet to conquer South Africa and Australia.

    The only thing that Ponting has successfully done yet is "captain" an Ashes win in England (He has played in one though). Tendulkar would therefore have much more hurt and desire to play. I doubt Ponting can last 4 more years as Test captain to be honest.

  • pontingrules on September 29, 2009, 8:01 GMT

    ponting is modern day great player,,, i agree wid tanveers i am from india and i like punter,, he is not gonna retire until 40,,, he is as fit as he was 15 yrs back,,,put this thought of retiring the PUNTER... in the back burner...ponting rules....

  • Vasi-Koosi on September 29, 2009, 7:43 GMT

    As much as I hate Ricky and would like to see him go. He is very much needed for Australian Cricket to get going on the rebuilding phase. Very much like what Allen did. He is a wonderful batsman, his captaincy will be decided on how things go in the coming years. Till yesterday, he had Glen, Shane, Gilli & Mathew; With these 4 any donkey can be a captain and win all the tests. Can he groom a Gilli, Mathew, Glen & a Shane is what is to be seen? From what I have seen till date, he needs to improve his attitude.

    Some of the short comings; Sydney Gate should have been handled better;

    More importantly Andrew should have been handled better; In Andrew they have 3 extra cricketers, somewhere something went wrong.

    Winning at all costs - no that is not what sportsmanship is all about

  • rohan024 on September 29, 2009, 7:16 GMT

    Guess, everyone is missing one important thing - Ponting over the last 3 years (24 Test) is averaging 43 in test cricket. The consistency is dropping, average has plummeted from 58 to 55 and his centuries no more wins matches for Australia. In his last 6 test centuries, Australia has won just once that too against West Indies. Having said that the fact is Australia still doesn't have a replacement ready for him. But when was the last time any country has a ready replacement for a great batsman ?

  • Rooboy on September 29, 2009, 7:05 GMT

    Australia now have a young team who would dearly miss the experience Ponting brings, not to mention that there is not exactly a wealth of young number 3's knocking down the door for his spot. 'Mark Taylor ... took action the moment he noticed his zest slacken', well it took him a hell of a lot longer than anyone else to notice the slackening! If not for extreme consideration from the selectors, Tubby would have gone the way most other captains mentioned by this article did. He turned it around in the end, but Tubs held on for a LONG, LONG time during which he barely hit the ball off the square. 'Why not just go?' It's a pity we can't ask the same of pointless 'journalists' who resort to writing ridiculous articles as their only means of getting attention ... or was this article supposed to be a joke? I don't get it, either way.

  • Abbyz on September 29, 2009, 7:04 GMT

    Ryan, good read but self-centric. Not everything is about one's ownself. Ricky is needed to usher Australia out of this spot of bother which they are unaccustomed to after almost 2 decades of dominance. You need his experience to get the young guns on the track and once done he would probably have exhausted his run scoring capability and have run out of steam too. Than probably he can take the lap.

  • Sandyn88 on September 29, 2009, 6:54 GMT

    what i find wierd abt Ponting is that he always contradicts himself...last year against India he repeatedly said Ganguly, Dravid and Tendulkar should quit coz they r too old...now he himself wants to play in 2013 Ashes when he'd be 38/39...is it only the records his after? even when he once said records don't matter to him?? if only his words were as consistent as his batting...

  • PROTEAFAN on September 29, 2009, 6:48 GMT

    The great Matthew Hayden has already been forced into retirement by unappreciative Aussies, and we saw what he is still capable of in the IPL. Now they want Ponting, still one of the finest batsmen in the world and one of the game's most successful captains to go? His lean patch is behind him, so this would definitely be to Australia's detriment.

  • jaymin_316 on September 29, 2009, 6:40 GMT

    Good dreams Down_the_Line but even if Ponting plays few more years, he is not going to beat Sachin's record. Sachin never worries about Ponting as he knows it is beyond Ponting's reach. I agree with Christian, its time for Ponting to retire gracefully before he is kicked out of the team.

  • Metal_Militia on September 29, 2009, 6:29 GMT

    How come some guys are bringing Sachin into this? You guys are as senseless as the author of this pointless article. I wonder what the author's credential's are on a cricket field to have the audacity to suggest Ricky to retire. Ricky is one of the game's greatest ever and has gained the right to decide for himself about his playing options. None of us lowly earthlings (on a cricket field) have the right to suggest anything to him. So has Sachin and Dravids of this world. So people should just shut up and enjoy these greats in action while they can. As for Sachin's records (as pointed by Down_the_line) that could be broken by Ricky, I believe all cricket lovers are educated in the game enough to know who is greater regardless the runs. Sachin's the highest run scorer, but is he greater than the Don? Same argument exists here as well. Let's enjoy these greats lads, as the game is changing and future generations might not get to see greater test cricketers on the field..(20-20 huh?)

  • hardrock2552 on September 29, 2009, 6:28 GMT

    If he retires then he will lose hold on his physique and we'll have a second mike procter. Cant imagine that to happen, nothing against both of them though....

    Ponting is a king of a batsman. Love to watch him play. I'm an Indian, But sometimes i've felt that Ponting has had more number of better days as a batsman than sachin has had. I think even the records say that. Top performer. He's still not done. CA would be dumb to hand over the captainship to puppy for another 2-3 years. CA needs their best batsman. Mr Cricket hasn't really been his best off late. Puppy is good batman but i'm not sure about his Captainship skills. And after Symo, i really if he's got what it takes. I agree to DUTCHY to some extent. Retirement will hit Ponting hard, and we'll see and Ponting will experience an inevitable transformation from Ricky Ponting to Mike Proctor.

  • din7 on September 29, 2009, 6:18 GMT

    Oh! what a foolish article! why should he take retirement, when he is playing so well? Yes he can resign as captain. But the way he is playing he should continue for another 4yrs. I am indian and i think ponting is even greater batsman than sachin. Losing 2 ashes series dosen't mean its the end. Come on, Ponting continue playing we still love you!

  • pankajupadhyay on September 29, 2009, 5:54 GMT

    I haven't read such a lame article about a man who did so much not only for australia but for the game of cricket. Why blame him, he always did the best, if others can't perform, the writers take their toll on him; so unfair. The reason he is continuing is because of no equavalent successor. And what do you think australian borad, they dont mercy anyone, the day they find a good leader to replace him, they will punch back. He is one of the best stroke makers of the game, though bit arrogant and thats the way oz are. Let him have his share of time at the field as long as he wants and believe me its a pleasure to see this man bat rather than read such wooing articles.

  • Uranium on September 29, 2009, 5:49 GMT

    Quite a negative piece Ryan. I think its wrong to define Ponting as the man who lost the Ashes twice. I agree his captaincy in test cricket has left alot to be desired but the Aussie selection committee are the ones to blame when they didn't make Warne captain after Waugh. But its too late now and who else is there now? Clarke? no way.

    Ponting should not give a damn about so called legacies and past events which he can't change. His batting remains brilliant and he should do whats best for himself and the team, which is to stay around and keep piling on the runs.

  • Davesh_cricket_analyst on September 29, 2009, 5:31 GMT

    Guess we all know what Ponting wants. Don't we? Oh come on, lets stop being ignorant. The 2 great batsmen - Tendulkar and Ponting - want to seal one record forever - highest test scorer. Thats one thing thats driving the 2 men incredibly well. In Tendulkar's case, though one can say that after around 18 years of hard work, he is finally enjoying his cricket now. In the 90s, underperformance and the FIXING attitude of his teammates robbed the great man of so many great accomplishments. Plus hes hell bent on adding a world cup to his glistering career. In Ponting's case, perhaps the motivation of completing the transition and placing Australia again as the No: 1 team is the key. Or may be to score some runs in India in test matches, which even after 4 test series he hasn't been able to do. Wonder how everyone would have percieved Tendulkars place in history had he not been able to perform in Australia. Dont see any reason why the same yardstick shouldn't be applied on Ponting.

  • Down_the_Line on September 29, 2009, 5:05 GMT

    Nice relief for Sachin! for he must have had nightmares of Ricky going after his glorious records, such bloody good is Ricky... anyway, well tried Ryan... but drop the idea :)

  • redneck on September 29, 2009, 4:20 GMT

    well what about test crickets all time run scorer???? he shouldnt quit, resign or be replaced he is making runs! i think all these articles are a bit premature all he did is rid himself of the 20/20 time wasters! he still has a job to do in seeing through australia through the rebuilding phase in the real forms of the game and is still making plenty of runs! and since when does neil harvey ever have anything nice to say about current cricketers?

  • Dheepan on September 29, 2009, 4:10 GMT

    Sense always must prevail inspite of all such pointless articles, there still is no better number 3 in the world so why give up the mantle! Its still a delight to watch his pull shotsl! England sneaked the ashes twice in the last 5 years, that proves nothing of ponting's capabilities.. So i strongly feel that Ponting must continue till the day there is a better batsman demanding his position in the team.

  • tanveers on September 29, 2009, 4:07 GMT

    Ponting is still 34 and still a top performer. Why would he retire? If Tendulkar and Dravid are not retiring then why Ponting? Look at his game. It is still top notch and you can see the focus and concentration that he gives when he is batting. His fluent cover drives and pulls are still jaw-drop gorgeous. I'm a Pakistani but I really like this great batsman, Ponting and I wish he would play for another few years.

  • dutchy on September 29, 2009, 3:51 GMT

    I'll tell you why he won't go - he's got nothing else to do. Read his diaries - the man has nothing in his life except cricket and the occasional game of golf. He has no other interests or even original thoughts, he's been doing nothing else since he was a teenager. Retirement is going to hit Ponting hard.

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  • dutchy on September 29, 2009, 3:51 GMT

    I'll tell you why he won't go - he's got nothing else to do. Read his diaries - the man has nothing in his life except cricket and the occasional game of golf. He has no other interests or even original thoughts, he's been doing nothing else since he was a teenager. Retirement is going to hit Ponting hard.

  • tanveers on September 29, 2009, 4:07 GMT

    Ponting is still 34 and still a top performer. Why would he retire? If Tendulkar and Dravid are not retiring then why Ponting? Look at his game. It is still top notch and you can see the focus and concentration that he gives when he is batting. His fluent cover drives and pulls are still jaw-drop gorgeous. I'm a Pakistani but I really like this great batsman, Ponting and I wish he would play for another few years.

  • Dheepan on September 29, 2009, 4:10 GMT

    Sense always must prevail inspite of all such pointless articles, there still is no better number 3 in the world so why give up the mantle! Its still a delight to watch his pull shotsl! England sneaked the ashes twice in the last 5 years, that proves nothing of ponting's capabilities.. So i strongly feel that Ponting must continue till the day there is a better batsman demanding his position in the team.

  • redneck on September 29, 2009, 4:20 GMT

    well what about test crickets all time run scorer???? he shouldnt quit, resign or be replaced he is making runs! i think all these articles are a bit premature all he did is rid himself of the 20/20 time wasters! he still has a job to do in seeing through australia through the rebuilding phase in the real forms of the game and is still making plenty of runs! and since when does neil harvey ever have anything nice to say about current cricketers?

  • Down_the_Line on September 29, 2009, 5:05 GMT

    Nice relief for Sachin! for he must have had nightmares of Ricky going after his glorious records, such bloody good is Ricky... anyway, well tried Ryan... but drop the idea :)

  • Davesh_cricket_analyst on September 29, 2009, 5:31 GMT

    Guess we all know what Ponting wants. Don't we? Oh come on, lets stop being ignorant. The 2 great batsmen - Tendulkar and Ponting - want to seal one record forever - highest test scorer. Thats one thing thats driving the 2 men incredibly well. In Tendulkar's case, though one can say that after around 18 years of hard work, he is finally enjoying his cricket now. In the 90s, underperformance and the FIXING attitude of his teammates robbed the great man of so many great accomplishments. Plus hes hell bent on adding a world cup to his glistering career. In Ponting's case, perhaps the motivation of completing the transition and placing Australia again as the No: 1 team is the key. Or may be to score some runs in India in test matches, which even after 4 test series he hasn't been able to do. Wonder how everyone would have percieved Tendulkars place in history had he not been able to perform in Australia. Dont see any reason why the same yardstick shouldn't be applied on Ponting.

  • Uranium on September 29, 2009, 5:49 GMT

    Quite a negative piece Ryan. I think its wrong to define Ponting as the man who lost the Ashes twice. I agree his captaincy in test cricket has left alot to be desired but the Aussie selection committee are the ones to blame when they didn't make Warne captain after Waugh. But its too late now and who else is there now? Clarke? no way.

    Ponting should not give a damn about so called legacies and past events which he can't change. His batting remains brilliant and he should do whats best for himself and the team, which is to stay around and keep piling on the runs.

  • pankajupadhyay on September 29, 2009, 5:54 GMT

    I haven't read such a lame article about a man who did so much not only for australia but for the game of cricket. Why blame him, he always did the best, if others can't perform, the writers take their toll on him; so unfair. The reason he is continuing is because of no equavalent successor. And what do you think australian borad, they dont mercy anyone, the day they find a good leader to replace him, they will punch back. He is one of the best stroke makers of the game, though bit arrogant and thats the way oz are. Let him have his share of time at the field as long as he wants and believe me its a pleasure to see this man bat rather than read such wooing articles.

  • din7 on September 29, 2009, 6:18 GMT

    Oh! what a foolish article! why should he take retirement, when he is playing so well? Yes he can resign as captain. But the way he is playing he should continue for another 4yrs. I am indian and i think ponting is even greater batsman than sachin. Losing 2 ashes series dosen't mean its the end. Come on, Ponting continue playing we still love you!

  • hardrock2552 on September 29, 2009, 6:28 GMT

    If he retires then he will lose hold on his physique and we'll have a second mike procter. Cant imagine that to happen, nothing against both of them though....

    Ponting is a king of a batsman. Love to watch him play. I'm an Indian, But sometimes i've felt that Ponting has had more number of better days as a batsman than sachin has had. I think even the records say that. Top performer. He's still not done. CA would be dumb to hand over the captainship to puppy for another 2-3 years. CA needs their best batsman. Mr Cricket hasn't really been his best off late. Puppy is good batman but i'm not sure about his Captainship skills. And after Symo, i really if he's got what it takes. I agree to DUTCHY to some extent. Retirement will hit Ponting hard, and we'll see and Ponting will experience an inevitable transformation from Ricky Ponting to Mike Proctor.