Pakistan v Australia, 2nd MCC Spirit of Cricket Test, Headingley, 4th day July 24, 2010

Australia introspective after mixed tour

80

It was only a week ago that Ricky Ponting said he and his men had one eye on the Ashes series later this year. Every match since they gave up the urn at The Oval last August has been geared towards regaining the prize. Instead of looking that far forward, they will now need to cast their gaze inwards after a loss that represents a worrying blip in their preparations.

For the first time in 15 years, Pakistan beat Australia in a Test match. It was the first defeat for Ponting's side since the last Ashes tour, and it came against an inexperienced team with a new captain. Yes, it went down to the wire and yes, had Australia held a couple of catches the result could easily have been different, but that would not have been an accurate reflection on the balance of power in the match.

There is no escaping the fact that Australia were outplayed at Headingley, where the middle order's frailty and the unreliability of the pace attack emerged as concerns for Ponting. Not that he said as much after the game - he has been at pains for many months to point out that the side's rebuilding period is over - and he was quick to hose down any talk of serious trouble ahead of the Ashes.

"Late November is a long way away yet," Ponting said. "We're not even focusing on the Ashes just yet. A loss quite often just highlights some of the things you're not doing well. That's all this week will do for us. We know we've got to continue to work hard and not take anything for granted.

"I don't think it will do too much to dent our confidence. You want to win every game that you play, there's no doubt about that. We haven't been at our best in this game, there's no doubt about that. It's not just the batting, I think the bowling has been a little bit off at different times through this Test match."

Although Doug Bollinger, Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus fired up on the fourth morning to give Australia a sniff of what would have been a remarkable victory, the fast men generally bowled to a scattergun line during the series. There are also question-marks over Marcus North, whose tally from four innings was 36 including two ducks, while Ponting, Michael Hussey, Michael Clarke and Shane Watson all produced sub-par batting contributions over the series.

In the end, Australia's first innings at Headingley was the difference. As the old cliché goes, it's not over until the fat lady sings, but there were two such fat ladies on the opening day: 88. Recovering from that batting slump was too great a task, and Ponting's decision at the toss to bat in overcast conditions against a Pakistan attack full of talented swing bowlers was a major factor.

"There's no doubt it's had a big impact," Ponting said of his call. "That's my responsibility, to get those sort of things right. Looking back now, I was a bit surprised how much it seamed on that first day. Everyone who looked at the wicket that morning, it was dry and had surface cracks in it already. It certainly wasn't something that had heaps of grass on it and you expected to seam all over the place, but it did that."

The loss has left Australia to look back on a pretty unsuccessful winter tour. The Tests were shared 1-1, Pakistan took the Twenty20s 2-0, and England triumphed 3-2 in the one-day internationals. Ponting may well wish he'd stayed at home in Sydney and worked on his golf handicap, for all the good the trip has done his team.

They must now treat the two-Test tour of India in October as an Ashes warm-up, and a final chance to decide on their preferred outfit before facing Andrew Strauss and his boys at the Gabba. Performances on the dusty Indian pitches might not be a great indicator of form on Australia's quicker surfaces, but poor touch in India will raise the pressure for the Ashes.

"If you were trying to set down and map your perfect preparation for an Ashes series or a home series, it probably wouldn't be playing two Test matches in India," Ponting said. "But you don't live in an ideal world. That's the way international cricket is these days. We'll go over there and do whatever we can, play the best cricket we possibly can."

For the time being, they have two months to think about how they are positioned. After seven consecutive victories against West Indies, Pakistan and New Zealand from December to July they felt they were well-placed. Those wins now seem a little less significant.

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on July 26, 2010, 12:53 GMT

    Enough said,

    I don't know what is going on,this is aus 1st loss after ashes and people started bashing ponting,as for aus is concerned ,we should loose to know the taste of success hope ,aus get it in Ind and in the next ashes and in the wc2011.Ponting prove it for the one last time.

  • StarveTheLizard on July 26, 2010, 10:16 GMT

    Hey Andy. The Australian team may not be that good. They will, however, be good enough to wallop England later this year on Australian own turf. The English team knows it and you know it. I'd love to see YOUR face then.

    Oh - and your not particularly funny either.

  • 68704 on July 26, 2010, 7:04 GMT

    I think these series were really unnecessary. Explain the logic of playing a series of 5 one dayers with England and then to play two tweny twentys against Pakistan to be followed by a neutral series in swing friendly conditions for a Pak team that is tailor made , at least in the bowling for these conditions. I think Australia needs to make changes and fast if it is to win back the ashes. They may do well in India because the Indian bowling is so weak without Zaheer, but the batting is still strong. I think North should go and Watson should bat lower down. If Callum Ferguson is good, he should play, he looked good when I last saw him. I think Australia will play better at home in front of a supportive home crowd and some nervous Englishmen who might get intimidated by the baying crowds and the biased media. The world does not have a really good team and you will find four teams jostling to be near the top. Australia is not yet a has-been but needs one more batsman . ramanujam sridha

  • LesGrossman on July 26, 2010, 4:08 GMT

    simple fact is australia keep picking the wrong team. the bowling lacks variety, a tall bowler whom can get bounce off a good length like mcgrath did is missing. perhaps peter george or josh hazelwood could fill that role. got a good swing bowler in hilfenhaus, then you pick johnson or bollinger as your left armer. i'd like to see Smith bat at 6 and hauritz back into the side gives you good spin options. might be too early for smith to bat 6, but his innings of 77 under pressure was quality, give him time. North is a steady shield cricketer, not a test player, his record suggests that. hussey needs a run of scores to keep his spot. Plenty of blokes churning out big runs in shield cricket khwaja, klinger, d hussey, cowan, hughes, rogers, marsh, forrest, voges, white, bailey etc that are better than North and can take over from Hussey. another question paine vs haddin? paine looks quality, but doesn't make 100's compared to haddin. like the one about ponting batting 5 as well, good call

  • sharprider on July 26, 2010, 3:31 GMT

    The article dwells mainly with the 'internal issues' of the Aussies. There is, however, a glaring omission on their part as to the quality of the opposition. It has more often than not emerged post-facto that the Australians deliberately overlook the emerging threats from teams like Pakistan and England to the extent of taking away the credit from them for their 'giant-killing' efforts. I think it is high time that they start accepting the truth about the quality of cricket being played at all levels viz. the ODOs, the T20s and the Test matches.

  • sharprider on July 26, 2010, 3:31 GMT

    The article dwells mainly with the 'internal issues' of the Aussies. There is, however, a glaring omission on their part as to the quality of the opposition. It has more often than not emerged post-facto that the Australians deliberately overlook the emerging threats from teams like Pakistan and England to the extent of taking away the credit from them for their 'giant-killing' efforts. I think it is high time that they start accepting the truth about the quality of cricket being played at all levels viz. the ODOs, the T20s and the Test matches.

  • Manikchand_Gutka_eating_desi on July 26, 2010, 0:29 GMT

    Hey Nit2222 I know India may get thrashed to Lanka so what? But pony is when they lose they coma back playing hard. So Aussies can't take revenge against india for what Pam did to them. Secondly this seems like punter's last ashes because he does not have more left in terms of ideas. Also u said India's line is worst!! I guess that's why every teams that come to India after winning throughout the world calls it Final Frontier. And this veteran full of experience line up is worst then what u call the line up that was all out for 88? County team? But agree with u on 1 thing, let's wait & watch. We'll see how Aussie goes home really thinking where they stand against mighty pins.

  • on July 25, 2010, 21:02 GMT

    Australia will win the series against India. The reason being India's worst bowling attack. India's fast bowling is no better than Zimbabwe, Bangladesh or the West Indies.

  • wanderer1 on July 25, 2010, 19:07 GMT

    @Marshall Ross: Not only did I think that was out, so did all the commentators including one Shane Warne who was adamant that whenever a batsmen shoulders arms and the ball is close to hitting the stumps, it should always be out. The benefit of the doubt when not playing a shot is always given to the bowler.

  • bobagorof on July 25, 2010, 13:52 GMT

    I certainly wish Ponting had stayed at home to work on his golf handicap. He has barely warranted his place in the side as a batsman over the last couple of years, and his captaincy has been poor to middling. In revitalising the batting order, the No. 3 slot is the first place I look. No. 6 is also very inconsistent and probably worth re-evaluating. The simple fact is that 5 of Australia's top 6 batsmen appear to have lost form all at once, and the question must be raised - what is the coach doing to get them back into form?

  • on July 26, 2010, 12:53 GMT

    Enough said,

    I don't know what is going on,this is aus 1st loss after ashes and people started bashing ponting,as for aus is concerned ,we should loose to know the taste of success hope ,aus get it in Ind and in the next ashes and in the wc2011.Ponting prove it for the one last time.

  • StarveTheLizard on July 26, 2010, 10:16 GMT

    Hey Andy. The Australian team may not be that good. They will, however, be good enough to wallop England later this year on Australian own turf. The English team knows it and you know it. I'd love to see YOUR face then.

    Oh - and your not particularly funny either.

  • 68704 on July 26, 2010, 7:04 GMT

    I think these series were really unnecessary. Explain the logic of playing a series of 5 one dayers with England and then to play two tweny twentys against Pakistan to be followed by a neutral series in swing friendly conditions for a Pak team that is tailor made , at least in the bowling for these conditions. I think Australia needs to make changes and fast if it is to win back the ashes. They may do well in India because the Indian bowling is so weak without Zaheer, but the batting is still strong. I think North should go and Watson should bat lower down. If Callum Ferguson is good, he should play, he looked good when I last saw him. I think Australia will play better at home in front of a supportive home crowd and some nervous Englishmen who might get intimidated by the baying crowds and the biased media. The world does not have a really good team and you will find four teams jostling to be near the top. Australia is not yet a has-been but needs one more batsman . ramanujam sridha

  • LesGrossman on July 26, 2010, 4:08 GMT

    simple fact is australia keep picking the wrong team. the bowling lacks variety, a tall bowler whom can get bounce off a good length like mcgrath did is missing. perhaps peter george or josh hazelwood could fill that role. got a good swing bowler in hilfenhaus, then you pick johnson or bollinger as your left armer. i'd like to see Smith bat at 6 and hauritz back into the side gives you good spin options. might be too early for smith to bat 6, but his innings of 77 under pressure was quality, give him time. North is a steady shield cricketer, not a test player, his record suggests that. hussey needs a run of scores to keep his spot. Plenty of blokes churning out big runs in shield cricket khwaja, klinger, d hussey, cowan, hughes, rogers, marsh, forrest, voges, white, bailey etc that are better than North and can take over from Hussey. another question paine vs haddin? paine looks quality, but doesn't make 100's compared to haddin. like the one about ponting batting 5 as well, good call

  • sharprider on July 26, 2010, 3:31 GMT

    The article dwells mainly with the 'internal issues' of the Aussies. There is, however, a glaring omission on their part as to the quality of the opposition. It has more often than not emerged post-facto that the Australians deliberately overlook the emerging threats from teams like Pakistan and England to the extent of taking away the credit from them for their 'giant-killing' efforts. I think it is high time that they start accepting the truth about the quality of cricket being played at all levels viz. the ODOs, the T20s and the Test matches.

  • sharprider on July 26, 2010, 3:31 GMT

    The article dwells mainly with the 'internal issues' of the Aussies. There is, however, a glaring omission on their part as to the quality of the opposition. It has more often than not emerged post-facto that the Australians deliberately overlook the emerging threats from teams like Pakistan and England to the extent of taking away the credit from them for their 'giant-killing' efforts. I think it is high time that they start accepting the truth about the quality of cricket being played at all levels viz. the ODOs, the T20s and the Test matches.

  • Manikchand_Gutka_eating_desi on July 26, 2010, 0:29 GMT

    Hey Nit2222 I know India may get thrashed to Lanka so what? But pony is when they lose they coma back playing hard. So Aussies can't take revenge against india for what Pam did to them. Secondly this seems like punter's last ashes because he does not have more left in terms of ideas. Also u said India's line is worst!! I guess that's why every teams that come to India after winning throughout the world calls it Final Frontier. And this veteran full of experience line up is worst then what u call the line up that was all out for 88? County team? But agree with u on 1 thing, let's wait & watch. We'll see how Aussie goes home really thinking where they stand against mighty pins.

  • on July 25, 2010, 21:02 GMT

    Australia will win the series against India. The reason being India's worst bowling attack. India's fast bowling is no better than Zimbabwe, Bangladesh or the West Indies.

  • wanderer1 on July 25, 2010, 19:07 GMT

    @Marshall Ross: Not only did I think that was out, so did all the commentators including one Shane Warne who was adamant that whenever a batsmen shoulders arms and the ball is close to hitting the stumps, it should always be out. The benefit of the doubt when not playing a shot is always given to the bowler.

  • bobagorof on July 25, 2010, 13:52 GMT

    I certainly wish Ponting had stayed at home to work on his golf handicap. He has barely warranted his place in the side as a batsman over the last couple of years, and his captaincy has been poor to middling. In revitalising the batting order, the No. 3 slot is the first place I look. No. 6 is also very inconsistent and probably worth re-evaluating. The simple fact is that 5 of Australia's top 6 batsmen appear to have lost form all at once, and the question must be raised - what is the coach doing to get them back into form?

  • Gupta.Ankur on July 25, 2010, 13:44 GMT

    ponting's batting thrived under his illustrious team-mates who took pressure off him on most occasions than not....

    With the best opening pair since greenidge/haynes,he had very little to worry

  • SnowSnake on July 25, 2010, 13:14 GMT

    I don't know why everyone is celebrating on Australia's downfall and making fun of India's loss. Strong Australia and India are necessary for cricket survival. If Australia and India fall below 5th rank in ICC ranking, cricket will officially hit rock bottom. Legacy of the game depends on the players coming out of these countries. It is an absolute honor to play for either India or Australia. If I could play cricket, I would not play for any other country except these two. It is OK to criticize players based on their statistical performance, but to cricitze a national team entirely shows jealousy and hatred towards a nation and its citizens, and enjoyment in the misery of others. Grow up people. No one country is bound to dominate ICC test rankings. So, if Aus. and Ind. fall off the rankings and the team you support goes up then that does not prove anything but inevitable. If both fall below 5th rank that shows dwindling popularity of cricket.

  • Cricket_my_Heartbeat on July 25, 2010, 13:07 GMT

    Aussie should not give lame excuses. Pakistan had outplayed them in the test. Best one as I remember.

  • brownfeatures on July 25, 2010, 12:57 GMT

    Nice to see such respect towards and charitable and sportsmanlike support of Ponting here in these comments. He's only one of the greatest batsmen to ever play the game and Australia's most successful captain, but hey let's bin him like a used nappy. "only 12000 test runs, what a joke"...etc. Frankly as a cricket fan I'm in awe of him... win, lose or draw.

  • on July 25, 2010, 12:50 GMT

    many of u guys r saying that india has a popgun bowling attack...yeah thats without zaheer...so let me remind u india might have popgun bowling attack but in batting there is no doubt that india has the best batting attack in the world...and yeah when u r bowling to sehwag,sachin,dravid or laxman there is no bowling attack that can dominate them espcially sehwag...when anybody bowls to him then every bowler in this world becomes a popgun bowler...so all in all...every bowling attack in this world is a popgun attack when u r bowling against india..that too in india...there might be 1 or 2 tests india might lose...but we wont draw...india is going to win the next 2 matches againt sri lanka...!!! R U HEARING SETTING SUN....maybe in your area sun is setting...but in india sun is always rising....!!!!!

  • zxaar on July 25, 2010, 12:48 GMT

    @NIT2222" .india has got the worst line up with all veterans in them...." ................. you mean including the one who already hit 4 centuries in tests this year and had hit only odi 200 anyone could manage so far. The worst line up is ten times better than what aussies have at the moment.

  • Beertjie on July 25, 2010, 11:21 GMT

    I have to agree with Vasi-Koosi who sees "more black days for Australia", but it was their "never say die spirit" and Johnson which helped them beat SA away after their humiliating home loss. So what's to be done? nicktheump is on the right track about some of the changes but it's not mateship that's the problem. All captains have to have a say in selection as does the coach. Why blame Hussey? But Johnson must go and out too with North. Yes, "Watson is a number 6 - too flashy and loose an opener and Ponting now should be at 5." Great ideas those. My line up would be: Jacques/Hughes, Katich, Hussey, Clarke, Ponting, Watson, Haddin, Hauritz, Harris, Hilfenhaus, Bollinger. Pressure is the name of the game and this lot can give you it with reverse swing on good wickets. Smith, Siddle, Khawaja and Paine are good back-ups (Johnson needs to re-discover his confidence and could make a come-back if form and openings in team warrant). A less gung-ho Aussies can still regain Ashes, who knows?

  • popcorn on July 25, 2010, 11:10 GMT

    "One swallow doth not a summer make".Brydon Coverdale should know that. Until only recently, he was singing the praisses of this rebuilt side.I guess as Auusies go, no loss is acceptable. That's how high the standards are.But to press the panic button, speaks very poorly of Brydon Coverdale's knowledge of cricket - especially his dismissive last line.

  • Aussasinator on July 25, 2010, 11:01 GMT

    The Australian losing spree against good bowling attacks continues. It's a continuous downward spiral now. This introspective talk, with a lot of built in contradictions, bringing in the Ashes reference for convenience - all point to a desperation. You dont rebuild a team while also pretending to have won lost matches. It requires frankness and some tough decisions. A major departure from delusion is the need of the hour.

  • umairhuda on July 25, 2010, 10:00 GMT

    Agree with you NIT2222 , Aussies are still one of the best side in the world and I'm sure they will demolish India like anything,,India should give golden hand shake to their seniors like as well.. Go Ponting go and win in India and England.. but just be careful Indian can win only in India. Still Aussies are fav.

  • crktcrazzy on July 25, 2010, 9:45 GMT

    just one match lost and so much criticism actually that shows ponting high standards.even u look at last 10 test match aus have won 8 drawn1 lost 1 n still people criticisng punter. punter is in bad form which every player goes through infact he was unlucky in 1 test one was a unlucy catch n other was bad decision the way pak bowled no team could have played better. ind which almost lost by an inn in most batsmen friendly pitch(losing 17 wic in less then 1.5 days) wouuld not be able to even score 80.ind is no 1 although they havent toured sa for more than 3yrs england more than 4yrs aus 4yrs wi for ages they keep on playing sl. how many away ind has won? v keep on repeating aus loss of ashes but v forget that it was an away series which was narrowly lost 2-1 n ind team is still speak of their vic in perth and not abt the series lost to aus that is the difference in standards

  • NIT2222 on July 25, 2010, 8:23 GMT

    hey Manikchand_Gutka_eating_desi you wait and watch how srilankans are gonna trash india and then australia gonna take their revenge against india .....its not the last ashes for punter he has got many more to go...india has got the worst line up with all veterans in them....

  • dralikhan on July 25, 2010, 7:41 GMT

    They are dancing in the streets of Pakistan and supporters are jubilant here.And its about time too. These supporters of Pakistan cricket are anxious that whether the most unpredictable side in the world of cricket can keep its nerve and give England a fight? Butt did well as a captain in his first test but he would not expect any silly decisions from England like winning the toss and asking Pakistan to ball in seaming conditions. I guess Ponting and Australia have lost the edge that they once had but England under Strauss and Flower have just tasted success and they would like to spring board off Pakistan onto retaining the Ashes and then domination of world cricket, something England supporters wanted since 2005. So what will Pakistan bring to this series?They look to be settling under new management too.There seems to be no disharmony at the moment. My personal opinion that it will be Pakistan's batsmen who would decide how this series will be played.If they click,what fun.

  • on July 25, 2010, 7:30 GMT

    Haha Well said@SettingSun! The sun is setting on the Australian dominance on cricket but they've got India's popgun bowling attack to look forward to before the Ashes .. Mua hahahahaha!

  • on July 25, 2010, 7:26 GMT

    The writing on the wall; the tangible truth is that "The loss has left Australia to look back on a pretty unsuccessful winter tour. The Tests were shared 1-1, Pakistan took the Twenty20s 2-0, and England triumphed 3-2 in the one-day internationals. Ponting may well wish he'd stayed at home in Sydney and worked on his golf handicap, for all the good the trip has done his team."

    The game of cricket is a great leveler :-)

  • nicktheump on July 25, 2010, 6:24 GMT

    Major changes are neeeded to be even a ball-park hope of winning the ashes. Firstly the mateship" mason" lke protection that some players (johnson, hussey)recieve needs to go So bye bye selectors and with them JOhnson and Hussey. Its not YOUR team Ricky - you should have 0% say in its selection. Out too with North - enough chances, temperament is fragile. Watson is a number 6. A good six, but a flashy and loose opener. Ponting now should be at 5. Time to drop down and be a Steve Waugh/Border, you are not a world class 3 anymore and havent been for the last 18 months. Katich goes to 3 - he too needs to fix that legside flaw whcih leaves two new openers...Rogers/Jacques/Hughes????, Katich, Clarke, Ponting, Watson. Theres the top six. And lets keep PAine too - such a class above Haddin. Bowlers is flexible - with the one non-negotiable - Johnson must go.

  • champion1469 on July 25, 2010, 6:17 GMT

    australia neednt worry, they performed badly due to a error at the toss and never recovered. definately areas to work on ( middle order and penetration at the bowling crease ) but what makes australia so formidable is their attitude. guarantee they come back stronger for the india and ashes series.

  • fifth-umpire on July 25, 2010, 5:52 GMT

    It is seldom that Punter admits a mistake and that has been the bane of Australia's turnaround. http://fifth-umpire.blogspot.com/2009/07/pontings-real-test.html And Ashes - Are England and Australia the only two test playing countries? Why are they still living in Raj days? http://fifth-umpire.blogspot.com/2009/06/there-are-tests-and-then-thre-is-ashes.html

  • eyballfallenout on July 25, 2010, 5:20 GMT

    I dont like these dumb small series. Australia should not have played the one day games against England and had 3 tests against Pakistan and to go to india the number 1 team and only have 2 test matches is ridiculous. This should be at least 3 or even 5 with warm up games, a serious tour between top teams. No wonder tests are loosing interest.

  • Vasi-Koosi on July 25, 2010, 4:56 GMT

    I would attribute this to the arrogance of Punter. He has been one of the worst for Australia. He needs to have a chat with Allen Border. He was rebuilding an aussie side. He did not talk much, definitely not with any type of arrogance. He had seen his high and lows; He did a terrific of letting his action speak instead of words; Leading from the front and making sure everyone who played delivered his best. He made a winner of Greg Matthews; That speaks volumes of his impact. What our "Friend" RP is doing is just the opposite, it would be easy to remove him and put in a successor; But, look at the folks you have coming up; pup & a wicket-keeper who is yet to establish in the side. I see more black days for australia, the only thing that might keep them from disasters is their "never say die spirit", how long can this keep them on top against class.

  • cricpolitics on July 25, 2010, 4:06 GMT

    There was so much being said about Sydney test that Australia could bounce back and win again. They may have come close but the fact is they lost the match. I had even said before that Sydney test was no where an indication of remarkable Australian comeback instead it was a remarkable collapse of the Pakistan team. There was nothing great that Australia did in that match. Beating WI, PAK, and NZ gave Australia a wrong impression that they were still invincible. A more purposeful but still an inexperienced Paksitan team has beaten them in every department in this series including fielding, bowling and the batting. Australians have a big task ahead of them.

  • NAP73 on July 25, 2010, 3:48 GMT

    (i) wanderer1, I think you'll find Australia had some pretty dodgy decisions go against them as well. Some would say this is an argument for having the UDRS across the board as umpiring does not seem to be up to shape these days, possibly due to the need to concentrate so hard for 5 days. (ii) Yes, Ponting has a habit of making bad calls at the toss. All the more reason to replace him, but unfortunately Clarke's batting is quite weak (cannot seem to convert starts) and cannot be placed under more pressure from the responsibility of captaincy. (iii) Australia has been weak for a while now. Although they won't drop as low as the West Indies, they will still be a fair way down the pack. It has been more than enough time to change the whole set-up - players, selectors, chairmen, coaches... (iv) I hope Aamer can continue on, as cricket is lacking real exciting stars at the moment, apart from Steyne and Sehwag. Everyone else just doesn't seem to have the consistent X factor anymore.

  • 123234 on July 25, 2010, 3:43 GMT

    i think theirs too much presure on punter, it will be better for someone to take over captaincy from punter, so he can concentrate on batting. i think michael clark fits that role. even if it means temporary retiring till ashes. plus MC is going to take over captaincy from RP in future. so why not give him the chance to do captaincy while the best RP still is around.

  • on July 25, 2010, 3:18 GMT

    Lol at wanderer. If you think that was out I think you need a personal UDRS at your computer before you make further claims.

  • on July 25, 2010, 3:00 GMT

    "... had Australia held a couple of catches the result could easily have been different.." yea very well said, and don't bother mentioning had Ponting been given out the first ball in second innings, Pakistan needn't worry about batting the second time,

  • zxaar on July 25, 2010, 2:38 GMT

    i wonder where are these guys calling tendulkar choker and blaming him not winning matches for india and comparing him with ponting. How many matches ponting is winning for Aus now when Hayden, McGrath, Warne, Gilly have retired. If you have weak team, one person can not make much difference.

  • manghnani on July 25, 2010, 2:22 GMT

    easier said than done that aussie wins right from the summer season at home is less more significant now... and even more astonishing is the comment of 'dawn of the new era' with one pakistani test victory in 15 years! all the other boys still have to learn a great deal from the aussies! and where are the fans who were nervous that pak still may not make it with 40 runs reqd yesterday morning ~ and the team nearly lived up to their fans expectations ;) ... its not time yet for the inconsistent pak to start celebrating! for the time being, let them celebrate the fact that salman butt shall remain the captain at least for the next series...

  • drcardio1980 on July 25, 2010, 1:55 GMT

    @Aettingsun India's popgun bowling attack!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • CSpiers on July 25, 2010, 0:51 GMT

    katich major technical issues? yeah right, the guy has a higher average as an opener than anyone.

  • jamrith on July 25, 2010, 0:09 GMT

    @ SettingSun, agree, the two Tests in October against India's woefully poor bowling attack should provide the Aussies with some much-needed batting practice, and Hauritz and Smith too may enjoy themselves against India's brittle batting. The contrast between Pakistan and Inda in the bowling department could not be starker, Pakistan with the best pace attack in the world in Aamer, Asif and Gul, backed up by Kaneria/Ajmal, India opening with Sharma and Mithun, followed by the toothless spinning duo of Harbhajan and whoever else. Plus ca change !! # 1 Test nation, ROFL !!

  • ratee on July 25, 2010, 0:00 GMT

    This is one of the weakest Australian side. Only when you lose and score 88 runs seventh lowest score in their history then generally people understand whats wrong with a team.

  • neutralfan on July 24, 2010, 23:59 GMT

    neutralfan Ponting just carries on the arrogant Australian theme. His visit to India for the two test series - is not an ideal preparation for the Ashes?? Why bother coming then - yes, need the money though !! You need to beat India in India, before you can even think about the ashes series, for the simple reason that India are a better team than England, home or away, and will give you a run for your money. Ponting, play cricket with the best rather than hiding in your backyard and playing the minnows!!

  • RIGAN007 on July 24, 2010, 23:52 GMT

    PONTING u r the best...DO not bother what people saying about you....

  • PNair on July 24, 2010, 23:46 GMT

    I wonder if this writer is living in the past, cricket world does not revolve around the Ashes these days, I do not think it is most coveted trophy for Australia anymore. England might be in the best form of the last few years but there are number of teams better than them. Comment about 'dusty tracks' in India is again from the past, gone are those days, pitches in India are probably the best laid, unfortunately they do not help the home team these days. Come on buddy cricket is not about England and Australia...

  • TEST_CRICKET_ONLY on July 24, 2010, 23:05 GMT

    I agree with SettingSun. The bowlers are average at best, with Johnson being the worst by a long way. North and Hussey have to go, and Watson needs to drop back down the order, as his purple patch has come to an end. Of course, Ponting's retirement would help too, but that won't happen until he leads us to a third Ashes defeat. All in all, Cricket Australia is a joke that is not funny.

  • wedwardes on July 24, 2010, 22:18 GMT

    "It was only a week ago that Ricky Ponting said he and his men had one eye on the Ashes series later this year. "

    If Sri Lanka beat India in the current series they would climb above Australia to 3rd. That would make the Ashes series a 4th v 5th place contest.

  • Chuckworth on July 24, 2010, 22:14 GMT

    "They must now treat the two-Test tour of India in October as an Ashes warm-up?" I strongly beg to differ. India are a formidable team in their own right, arguably No. 1 in the world. Australia must treat their tour of India as a chance to beat India in India and press their claims for World Champion status.

  • gv.gandhi on July 24, 2010, 21:47 GMT

    Aus was Aus,when it had winning as a priority rather than one of series...Ashes...Aus is now talking and playing like England of before....and are only talking about Ashes....which is poor strategy.....I bet Aus going to loose Ashes again...and chinks in his captaincy are going to be exposed again.....

  • srivatsan on July 24, 2010, 21:09 GMT

    SettingSun :=) lets admit that this Aussie side is beginning to look worse than NSW or Victoria. For all the Pura Cup hype it's embarrassing that Australia could not find test class opener and 2 other players of test standards and one really good spinner. Pace bowling is out right erratic with Johnson leading the pack, is Troy Cooley alive?. Batting looks ominously out of touch. If this batting line up stands for more than 40 overs against Indian spin duo I will be surprised.

    Solution: Sack ponting with immediate effect, pick a test side groomer like Taylor or Border (Clarke may not be a bad choice) and start picking young guns, sure they won't perform from the first test but atleast rebuilding process should ensure something good at least by next world cup!.

  • on July 24, 2010, 21:00 GMT

    there shud b no place for ponting in the team or he shud b captian in all formats of the game, different teams/captains for different formats of game would'nt work, the way kangroos bowled out at 88 it reminded me the words of mike hussy ''we 'll test pak batting depth' , rightly said 'proud has a fall'

  • dr_sachinfan_chennai on July 24, 2010, 20:43 GMT

    @ MC GUTKHA EATING DESI : Well said. In our own backyard we ll be kings no doubt. And good that with fit back Zak and Bhaj without fever we ll give them a tough time. On someone commenting on Indian Popguns well do tell me exactly if Aussie bowling is good? Well they won 3 last placed sides who lost more than Aussie win at home too. Infact Indias wins were better than theirs. It did come at home but against Lanka the then No 2 and South Africa who again were No 2. So lets see wat happens is october. My guess is if India wins first test second ll be drawn. If they loose first second ll be equalizer.

  • Brain_Master on July 24, 2010, 19:21 GMT

    Infact , the tour does not have mixed results as far as Pakistan leg of the tour is concerned. Same batting line of Pakistan did well in second test, if performed in first test then the result will be 4-0 in favor of Pakistan.

  • Shash28 on July 24, 2010, 18:59 GMT

    At the end of the day all tha' going to happen is we are going to have a close Ashes... but England shouldn't count their chickens yet... without swing, their bowling attack is as bland as the Aussies' can be shoddy...

  • demon_bowler on July 24, 2010, 18:41 GMT

    Overhead conditions always count for more than pitch conditions at Headingley.

  • honestno2 on July 24, 2010, 18:23 GMT

    Had kamran akmal taken the catches at Sydney of Hussey....aus had losen by an inning......if u r talking about holding catches.....Pakistan till date would haf been the no 1 team...................IF IF ?? cry of a loser

  • bonner on July 24, 2010, 18:09 GMT

    If anyone around the Australian set up is interested in why that was such an ordinary tour, read Pontings comment: 'If you were trying to ... map your perfect preparation for an Ashes series...'. The Aussies are playing tests against the no.1 ranked side in the world and he sees it as a warm up for the Ashes!!! This attitude has got to stop right now! Someone with some credibility in Australian cricket needs to sit down with the whole team to sort out the serious players from the junket boys. 'Don't you want to win!!?' AB famously roared at Dean Jones after he dropped a catch. Captains sometimes have to lead from behind (with the boot). Let's hope the focus is 100% on the tests in India. btw - Congratulations Pakistan and best of luck against England. Aamer is a star!

  • leave_it_to_the_umps on July 24, 2010, 17:53 GMT

    again punter shows he is not captain material!

    How many tests has he played over here? How can he not have figured out yet that in the UK if there are clouds in the sky (especially in the morning) the ball will swing if pitched up and then when the sun comes out (usually in the afternoon) then the swing goes away and it is good batting conditions. The pitch barely matters it is all about the weather conditions and what they do to the flight of the ball!

    It is just stupidity to volunteer to go and bat in overcast conditions on the 1st morning against a side who are masters at swinging the ball. Any captain with 1/2 a brain would have sent the fragile pakistan batting lineup in with the aim to knock over 4-5 of them in the 1st session and cleanup the tail in the afternoon and come out and bat in the afternoon sunshine! (basically what pakistan did!)

    That said the boys did well to fight to the end. I reckon another 20-30 runs would have been enough for us to have stolen a win.

  • CricketingStargazer on July 24, 2010, 17:52 GMT

    Australia are still a strong side, but they can no longer boast of being all-conquering and two tough series against India and England await this winter. India will expect to win. England just want revenge. And mischievous fortune decrees that Pakistan's next opponent is none other than England. Comparisons between the two series results this summer will be inevitable.

  • on July 24, 2010, 17:49 GMT

    It won't be ideal to prepare in India? Oh mate, first talk about your pathetic batting form. Indians are waiting for you lot come over. We will show why we are the number one side.

  • on July 24, 2010, 17:43 GMT

    That's okay ricky...you still have a chance to redeem yourself against india's 3rd class bowling attack and their over-hyped yet under-performing batsmen.

  • gettussaa on July 24, 2010, 17:38 GMT

    Should ponting start looking in "the mirror"? Where is Ian chappal ?

  • on July 24, 2010, 17:33 GMT

    Wel said Wanderer1..........Iif he was given out at first ball which he was actually,the match could have ended up with inng loss..

  • on July 24, 2010, 17:09 GMT

    People, I am sure Australia will recover. They always have. So many times in history, they have recovered from holes which were more abysmal. And while that totally-questionable series against India may not be ideal preparation, it would be a good place to experiment for Aussie selectors. I guess North wont be able to keep place, Steve Smith may get a look-in, Ritzy would be back & Hughes would open thus pushing Watson at no.6 which is good for him anyway. But yes, the middle-order is looking a little patchy. And oh, this sub-par bowling is of bigger concern. Whatever happened to Mitch whom i thought to be best left-arm quick? Now Aamer is, not Bollinger, & his batting has dimmed suddenly too. Somehow, they need to get their act together before Ashes. And Mr. "Manikchand_Gutka_eating_desi", you'd have to eat your words back i m sure. If Aussies were so weak, they would never be number one. They will get back there though arent there right now. ICC Rankings never mattered anyway.

  • on July 24, 2010, 16:56 GMT

    this match is just a hiccup...just tht the batters didnt apply themselves well enough and commited to playing way too forward which is suicide against the swinging ball. there was every reason to bat 1st as the wicket was dry. if the result actually matters a lot on the toss, then its asinine. we were outplayed at headingley..big deal...regroup, refocus and get back on the field....

  • on July 24, 2010, 16:47 GMT

    I think it wouldnt be wrong to say Pakistan's catching in this series was better than that of the Aussies. To me this made a HUGE difference, because most Aussie batsmen make you pay if you give them a life. And dropping catches also hammers the team morale.

    On a side note, i completely agree with wanderer1.

  • SnowSnake on July 24, 2010, 16:47 GMT

    Australia needs to gain its confidence and get back to its winning ways. Test cricket is getting very uninteresting these days. Most teams-- win or not-- rarely last 100 overs. That is bad for cricket. Tests are becoming bowlers game-- unless, of course, India is bowling.

  • Desihungama on July 24, 2010, 16:34 GMT

    It was evident throughout the series how Pakistan exposed the fragility of Australian batting order. It is ironic of writer to mention Australia holding onto its catches but failed to mention how the Umpires and Australia won the first Test. (Simon Katich was OUT on 2) and again so many dubious umpiring decisions, mainly favoring Australia.

  • theabstentious150 on July 24, 2010, 16:27 GMT

    You have to feel for Ponting. He is the most aggressive captain in the world.He sets the most logical fields. Sometimes aggression doesnt work. It was just one of those occasions. The batsmen didnt do well, the bowlers were all over the place. What could Pontindg had done. He shouldnt be criticised.

  • Chestnutgrey on July 24, 2010, 16:18 GMT

    Imagine losing to Paksitan like this. Man. It's a new low. Meanwhile, Afridi would have cancelled his retirement now that his team can win against Australia in tests.

  • nlambda on July 24, 2010, 16:17 GMT

    If Mark Taylor had been fielding in the slips instead of Shane Watson, this match could likely have continued the Aussie dominance. I guess that is also a sign of Aussie decline.

  • on July 24, 2010, 16:16 GMT

    Outstanding bowling by Pakistani bowlers made them to level the series and pointed out many flaws in the Australian batting. Indian batting line up is always criticized for its inability to play well on fast pitches. But looks to me Australian batting is not very different either in that sense given their poor batting show against good bowling attack. Its only Pakistan's Childish batsmen who are responsible for first test defeat otherwise result would have been 2-0 in favor of Pakistan.

  • Gupta.Ankur on July 24, 2010, 16:08 GMT

    Ponting alongwith with his over-hyped made hay with the bat when they greats like hayden,langer,warne and mcgrath winning them matches......

    Ponting now has to play under same pressure with which tendulkar has played for 20 years...

    And as you can see he cannot handle the pressure....

  • DavidMonkhouse on July 24, 2010, 15:30 GMT

    not over till the fat lady sings...two of them actually, 88...great writing, I savoured that

    not as much as the game though. Full credit to Pakistan, no mean feat beating Australia, even on one of their bad days they'll fight to the last ball, which they did admirably. Got to say I have really enjoyed the last few years of Pakistan v Australia, the boys in green have such passion and a sense of fun that really lifts the games...not like the rancour between Australia and India, or the fanatical desperation of an Ashes contest....all good things, but Oz and Pakistan games have the spirit that is sadly being lost of a good, hard contest with joy at the core

    I'm not too worried about a bad series for Australia's Ashes prospects, or world cup , or whatever. The new fellas in the team need blooding and bruising...and if they're smart, which they are, they'll rub these scars and win.

  • whoster on July 24, 2010, 15:29 GMT

    Over the previous Australian summer, the results looked good on paper. However, both West Indies and Pakistan had them in trouble at different times, and despite a brilliant fightback by Australia, Pakistan should have strolled to victory in Sydney. Against toughter opposition, the Aussies would have struggled to win either of those series. The list of Aussie players underperforming is pretty alarming; Watson, Ponting, Hussey and North with the bat - Johnson and Bollinger with the ball. They should be strengthened with the return of Siddle and Hauritz, but that still wouldn't be a bowling attack to strike fear into the opposition. There's some tough times ahead for Ponting and Australia, as there's very few players banging on the door for selection.

  • SettingSun on July 24, 2010, 15:00 GMT

    Mixed tour? They lost 3 out of 4 matches to Pakistan and the ODI series against England. Sounds like a downright poor tour to me. Bollinger, aside from one spell in each test match, failed to live up to his overhyped billing. Johnson was dreadful again. Watson and Katich showed major technical issues, Ponting and Clarke looked uncomfortable aside from one innings each, Hussey has become extremely inconsistent, North has had a nightmare aside from a flash in the pan bowling spell. Oh dear! Still, at least you've got India's popgun bowling attack to look forward to before the Ashes.

  • Manikchand_Gutka_eating_desi on July 24, 2010, 14:50 GMT

    Ponting just wait and watch. If India lose the Sri Lanka Series then your side will have very tough time because when they lose, they come back even more harder. Just looks at the last test match against South Africa. And Zaheer Khan and Sreenath are not there, but once they're back they'll also bring Ishant Sharma's confidence. Rest he knows that strong batting line us in their own backyard will produce great runs and bowling will be strong again. I hope India do the same thing that they did to Sri Lanka earlier when lanka came to India. Last Ashes for Big boy Ricky, then time to retire.

  • usman_nile1994 on July 24, 2010, 14:50 GMT

    M.North doesn't deserve a place bring U.Khawaja or any other.

  • AndyZaltzmannsHair on July 24, 2010, 14:33 GMT

    Punter's face is priceless... Neutral test series have been a victory in my book if only for that one image.

  • on July 24, 2010, 14:29 GMT

    Ahh Finally Pointing admitted that he made a mistake by choosing to bat first...

  • wanderer1 on July 24, 2010, 14:17 GMT

    Had Australia taken a couple of catches? If Ponting had been given out for 0 first ball LBW - which he should have been shouldering arms, this game would have been won by Pakistan on day 3. So swings and round-abouts Coverdale.

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  • wanderer1 on July 24, 2010, 14:17 GMT

    Had Australia taken a couple of catches? If Ponting had been given out for 0 first ball LBW - which he should have been shouldering arms, this game would have been won by Pakistan on day 3. So swings and round-abouts Coverdale.

  • on July 24, 2010, 14:29 GMT

    Ahh Finally Pointing admitted that he made a mistake by choosing to bat first...

  • AndyZaltzmannsHair on July 24, 2010, 14:33 GMT

    Punter's face is priceless... Neutral test series have been a victory in my book if only for that one image.

  • usman_nile1994 on July 24, 2010, 14:50 GMT

    M.North doesn't deserve a place bring U.Khawaja or any other.

  • Manikchand_Gutka_eating_desi on July 24, 2010, 14:50 GMT

    Ponting just wait and watch. If India lose the Sri Lanka Series then your side will have very tough time because when they lose, they come back even more harder. Just looks at the last test match against South Africa. And Zaheer Khan and Sreenath are not there, but once they're back they'll also bring Ishant Sharma's confidence. Rest he knows that strong batting line us in their own backyard will produce great runs and bowling will be strong again. I hope India do the same thing that they did to Sri Lanka earlier when lanka came to India. Last Ashes for Big boy Ricky, then time to retire.

  • SettingSun on July 24, 2010, 15:00 GMT

    Mixed tour? They lost 3 out of 4 matches to Pakistan and the ODI series against England. Sounds like a downright poor tour to me. Bollinger, aside from one spell in each test match, failed to live up to his overhyped billing. Johnson was dreadful again. Watson and Katich showed major technical issues, Ponting and Clarke looked uncomfortable aside from one innings each, Hussey has become extremely inconsistent, North has had a nightmare aside from a flash in the pan bowling spell. Oh dear! Still, at least you've got India's popgun bowling attack to look forward to before the Ashes.

  • whoster on July 24, 2010, 15:29 GMT

    Over the previous Australian summer, the results looked good on paper. However, both West Indies and Pakistan had them in trouble at different times, and despite a brilliant fightback by Australia, Pakistan should have strolled to victory in Sydney. Against toughter opposition, the Aussies would have struggled to win either of those series. The list of Aussie players underperforming is pretty alarming; Watson, Ponting, Hussey and North with the bat - Johnson and Bollinger with the ball. They should be strengthened with the return of Siddle and Hauritz, but that still wouldn't be a bowling attack to strike fear into the opposition. There's some tough times ahead for Ponting and Australia, as there's very few players banging on the door for selection.

  • DavidMonkhouse on July 24, 2010, 15:30 GMT

    not over till the fat lady sings...two of them actually, 88...great writing, I savoured that

    not as much as the game though. Full credit to Pakistan, no mean feat beating Australia, even on one of their bad days they'll fight to the last ball, which they did admirably. Got to say I have really enjoyed the last few years of Pakistan v Australia, the boys in green have such passion and a sense of fun that really lifts the games...not like the rancour between Australia and India, or the fanatical desperation of an Ashes contest....all good things, but Oz and Pakistan games have the spirit that is sadly being lost of a good, hard contest with joy at the core

    I'm not too worried about a bad series for Australia's Ashes prospects, or world cup , or whatever. The new fellas in the team need blooding and bruising...and if they're smart, which they are, they'll rub these scars and win.

  • Gupta.Ankur on July 24, 2010, 16:08 GMT

    Ponting alongwith with his over-hyped made hay with the bat when they greats like hayden,langer,warne and mcgrath winning them matches......

    Ponting now has to play under same pressure with which tendulkar has played for 20 years...

    And as you can see he cannot handle the pressure....

  • on July 24, 2010, 16:16 GMT

    Outstanding bowling by Pakistani bowlers made them to level the series and pointed out many flaws in the Australian batting. Indian batting line up is always criticized for its inability to play well on fast pitches. But looks to me Australian batting is not very different either in that sense given their poor batting show against good bowling attack. Its only Pakistan's Childish batsmen who are responsible for first test defeat otherwise result would have been 2-0 in favor of Pakistan.