South Africa v Australia, 1st ODI, Centurion

Clarke sounds out Ponting warning

Firdose Moonda in Centurion

October 18, 2011

Comments: 45 | Text size: A | A

Without the burden of captaincy, the pressures of leading the world's best one-day team and the complications that come with being the man in charge, Ricky Ponting is a freer man. According to new Australia captain, Michael Clarke, he is also a fiercer one.

"I have a feeling he is on the brink of having one of the best series of his career," Clarke said. "Watching him in the nets, I wouldn't be surprised if he gets Man of the Series in the one-dayers and is our leading run-scorer in the Tests."

Such a vote of confidence comes after Ponting finished as the second-highest run-scorer for Australia in their ODI series against Sri Lanka in August and scored 87 for Tasmania against Western Australia last week. To have a senior player in good nick will serve Clarke, who is still in his early days as captain, in good stead. "Ricky has been a big help to me throughout my career," he said. "He is a wonderful guy, very experienced and talented, still has a lot to offer in Australian cricket in both ODIs and Tests."

After leading Australia to victories in Bangladesh and the ODI and Test contests in Sri Lanka, Clarke faces arguably the biggest challenge of his leadership so far, in South Africa. Apart from the famous rivalry between the two countries, there are rankings at stake in both formats and Clarke recognises that it will be a significant test of his leadership.

"It's always great when you get the chance to play against tough opposition. I have enjoyed every challenge I have had against them," Clark said. "They are a very strong, experienced team. They've got some youngsters as well, who haven't played much cricket which is pretty similar to our team."

Australia's youth have burst onto the scene, with teenage paceman Pat Cummins stealing the headlines after his performances in the two T20s. He was fast-tracked into their Test squad and many feel he is on the brink of something special. Clarke was measured in his praise of Cummins, compared to T20 captain Cameron White and New South Wales team-mate Shane Watson, but recognised his potential. "He is very exciting young prospect, he can bowl fast, he can move the ball and for a youngster he has great knowledge of fast bowling."

He was equally conservative about the other prospects, James Pattinson and Mitchell Marsh, and made it clear that they will have to graft to make their names. "I'm excited to see the guys get an opportunity to stake their claim and now they have got hold of their chance and are playing for Australia."

It's in the fast-bowling department that Australia have sprouted talent and Clarke said that has more to do with the conditions in South Africa than the need to look for replacements for the likes of Brett Lee. "We're just trying to pick the right combination for where we are playing. Having two spinners and four quicks is the right mix, now we are just trying to pick the best 11 on the day."

Clarke said Australia will put their best foot forward, particularly because have their status as the No. 1 ranked ODI team in mind and want to hold on to it. "It's certainly something that we are aware of and very proud of. Hopefully we can continue playing good cricket and stay on top." South Africa could close that gap to a fraction if they win all three matches in the series. Hashim Amla said the team has not even thought about that because "they have bigger things to worry about."


Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke take a run, Sri Lanka v Australia, 2nd ODI, Hambantota, August 14, 2011
Michael Clarke on Ricky Ponting: "I have a feeling he is on the brink of having one of the best series of his career." © Associated Press
Enlarge

Amla, himself, forms one of the sub-plots of the series, which was initially supposed to be a contest of the young leaders between AB de Villiers and Clarke. He said he is "enjoying it although it is taking some getting used to." While Clarke did not give an appraisal of Amla's leadership, he said the stand-in skipper may be under some strain. "I think it's more of a concern that they haven't got AB. He is a very good player. They'll certainly miss him and there'll be a little bit of extra pressure on Hashim's shoulders."

The return of Jacques Kallis and Dale Steyn had Amla beaming as he welcomed back "familiar personnel" but the resumption of a format of the game in which has excelled seemed to please Amla more. Amla had only played three T20s for South Africa before captaining in the previous two and was dismissed cheaply both times. Now, he returns to the fifty-over game, where he is the world's top ranked batsmen and it seems he enjoyed the extra time it allows. "It will give us more time to assess and it's not just a case of one the day someone makes a big impact," he said.

Amla also hoped the change in format would result in a change in fortune for his opening partner Graeme Smith, who was in miserable touch in the T20s, after making his return from injury. "There is a lot more time to build innings so hopefully he will do well."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

RSS Feeds: Firdose Moonda

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (October 19, 2011, 21:22 GMT)

good warning from michael clarke, ricky ponting is man of the match today!!

Posted by adis26 on (October 19, 2011, 20:32 GMT)

Ponting is a freaking legend !!!! Obviously I have no option but to hate on him when he scores against my India but that takes Nothing away from the great player he has been for Australia and the way he has served for world cricket. All the best to you Ricky !!! I love watching him bat - real treat, the exquisite pulls, drives, even his backlifts and defense is a treat. Good on you!!

Posted by   on (October 19, 2011, 16:38 GMT)

why sachin everywhere sachin is gr8 ponting is gr8 kallis dravid is gr 8 is g28 enjoy everybody they are legends when they retire u will say wish all of them were there well ponting is legend but i think clark has just said just a little bit more by saying too much and drag himself into un required contreversy afterwards but hope ponting does well from an indian fan

Posted by zico123 on (October 19, 2011, 15:19 GMT)

ponting has passed his prime couple of years back, he can get odd 50 or 60 here n there, but he is occupying a place in the side which should go to a youngstar who would play in 2015 WC

Posted by MaruthuDelft on (October 19, 2011, 15:17 GMT)

Sachin doesn't pull short balls regularly which is a biiiig dent in his batting make up that many call world class. Ricky although doesn't have the natural flair and charisma of Tendulkar and Lara made up for it by determinedly having 2 features in his career; first he always batted with more flair against SA; second he pulls. Definitely Ponting will end his career as the better batsman than Tendulkar but not Lara. Tendulkar nowadays bores with his straight bat; the adventure has gone out of his batting; Tendulkar is not exciting now but Ponting still is.

Posted by M-S-R on (October 19, 2011, 14:54 GMT)

All the best Punter except when you play against BD!

Posted by Romenevans on (October 19, 2011, 14:06 GMT)

No Punter No Sachin! Kallis is the Real best batsman! Its not easy to score over 10K runs in both forms of the cricket and then taking 300+ wickets in both form of the game as well.

Posted by triassicpark on (October 19, 2011, 13:46 GMT)

Pls stop this war between Sachin and Ponting. Both are extremely good and Sachin was still producing the goods till the last series where it was a collective failure. Btw Ponting's last test century came ages ago. This forum is about Sa vs Aus. Stop this Sachin/Ponting discussion. Also a kind note, for all Sachin bashers........ he just failed in ONE series. Some respect please..........

Posted by umachi on (October 19, 2011, 12:54 GMT)

Ricky ponting world class player .... he will rock in this series.... i like to see big hundreds from punter

Posted by homerr on (October 19, 2011, 12:47 GMT)

All the best Ricky !!!!!!!!!!! love from Sri Lanka.....

Comments have now been closed for this article

TopTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
Firdose MoondaClose
Tour Results
South Africa v Australia at Johannesburg - Nov 17-21, 2011
Australia won by 2 wickets
South Africa v Australia at Cape Town - Nov 9-11, 2011
South Africa won by 8 wickets
Sth Africa A v Australians at Potchefstroom - Nov 1-3, 2011
Australians won by 7 wickets
South Africa v Australia at Durban - Oct 28, 2011
Australia won by 3 wickets (with 15 balls remaining)
South Africa v Australia at Port Elizabeth - Oct 23, 2011
South Africa won by 80 runs
More results »
News | Features Last 3 days
News | Features Last 3 days