South Africa v Australia, 1st ODI, Centurion October 18, 2011

Clarke sounds out Ponting warning

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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."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on October 19, 2011, 21:22 GMT

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

  • 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!!

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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.

  • M-S-R on October 19, 2011, 14:54 GMT

    All the best Punter except when you play against BD!

  • 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.

  • 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..........

  • 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

  • homerr on October 19, 2011, 12:47 GMT

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

  • on October 19, 2011, 21:22 GMT

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

  • 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!!

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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.

  • M-S-R on October 19, 2011, 14:54 GMT

    All the best Punter except when you play against BD!

  • 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.

  • 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..........

  • 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

  • homerr on October 19, 2011, 12:47 GMT

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

  • sachin_vvsfan on October 19, 2011, 12:43 GMT

    I don't know why ppl bring sachin for everything. That actually shows he is the benchmark. @Kaze , @Meety Give me a hint that Aussasinator is indian fan. @Ray24 yes sachin has had an avg series in ENG(partly to his illness and batting order) but pointing had a bad series against ENG his own backyard.

    That said, i would like to see some fine knocks from Ponting not just i wud love to see them but he will save Clarke too.

  • justk on October 19, 2011, 12:30 GMT

    @vinodGupte: yeah, that statement of ray made my day also..as if sachin is a joker who has dislike for rising deliveries..but why to compare ponting and sachin

  • justk on October 19, 2011, 12:25 GMT

    @kaze: why to compare ponting and sachin..both are legend..since now you have bring the discussion which has digressed from the main article about the clarke mentioning that he has gut feeling that ponting will outshine everyone with the bat, let me tell you the stat that sachin has 4 centuries against the steyn n morkel attack..2 in india and 2 in rsa..and they are in test cricket..but this statistic should be kept in another section..this article is about what ponting is and he is a legend

  • on October 19, 2011, 12:24 GMT

    I dont know why Sachin is always dragged in these columns while talking about the ability of a batsman....is it because there is no other greatest batsman than sachin to compare? or these guys are vulnerable that sachin is the greatest???

  • justk on October 19, 2011, 12:21 GMT

    i am an indian and i am a fan of punter also..and sachin is sachin and ponting is ponting..the indian team has always been at the receiving end whenever ponting has batted..we still remember the 2003 world cup final..but that was the best innings played by the man who deserved to be the captain of a champion team..and comparing sachin with ponting is like comparing oranges with apples..both are great and both are in their own leagues

  • Cantthinkofone on October 19, 2011, 11:04 GMT

    Punter is a legend. GO PUNTER! We want to see him scoring runs <3

  • number-09 on October 19, 2011, 11:01 GMT

    The_Shaman_of_sexy @ Bradman may have been awesome, but I am sure in today's world the 99 ave would not exist.

  • MAD-1 on October 19, 2011, 10:39 GMT

    Ponting still has a year or two in him. Australia have a history of forcing out their greats before there time. Hope the same doesnt befall Ponting.

  • on October 19, 2011, 10:09 GMT

    ROFL... Wooww... comparing Ponting who was able to win matches bcoz of d bunch of matchwinners (McGrath, Hayden, Gilly and Warne) wid Sachin, single handedly carried the burden of d team, is truly hilarious.. Everyone saw wat happend to his so called brilliant captaincy in WC... It was bcoz of his team... even I can win matches, if I have d likes of above in my team...

    PONTING, once upon a time used to play well.. Dat was an forgotten flashback episode.. He is not Sachin to play wid flair irrespective of age... Against dis very SAF attack Sachin made 200.. Lets see if he can make 200 runs in dis series!!!

  • AlanHarrison on October 19, 2011, 10:00 GMT

    @ Gupta.Ankur: agree in so far as while Clarke is right that Ponting did well in Sri Lanka, I don't remember Clarke being particularly impressive. There is something unAustralian about a captain not doing well with the bat: most recent Aussie captains (Waugh and Ponting, even Taylor at times) have done well with the bat. A player struggling with he bat the moment he becomes captain has been something that has happened for more commonly in English cricket in recent times.

  • Beertjie on October 19, 2011, 9:58 GMT

    As a great admirer of the all-time great Ponting, I have to agree with @bobagorof about when it's time to say good-bye.The selectors gave Tugga another year after warning him. Punter needs to be warned now rather than later and forced out (as AB was in 1994) soon. End India series would be my call.

  • sharidas on October 19, 2011, 8:33 GMT

    Ricky Ponting is a fine Batsman. I wish him all the luck and wish to see him do well. Lets quit the comparisons and enjoy the way each of them play. It is never necessary to belittle some one to highlight someone else.

  • VinodGupte on October 19, 2011, 8:32 GMT

    @ Ray 24 - thanks for the laughs. your "Sachin is a dolly compared to ponting" made my day. hahaha. keep writing. oh, and, btw, this "dolly" scored four centuries against SA in his last five tests facing morkel and steyn both of whom are in the top 10 ICC bowlers list. nevertheless, keep writing and entertaining.

  • natmastak_so-called on October 19, 2011, 7:16 GMT

    @ shaman : everyone is entitled to have their own opinion. but I think you are clearly not following aus cricket since mcgra,gilly,Warne retired.punter has become a shadow of his own past since then (in tests ).

  • natmastak_so-called on October 19, 2011, 7:03 GMT

    @ rooboy : results of the series reflects how good a team is or was at that perticular series.in a team game ,we cant say punter played this and aus won. same is true when we cant say ONly sachin played this and Ind won. Here we are just comparing players on the basis of their performance.peace.

  • on October 19, 2011, 6:19 GMT

    Would be good to see ponting make a couple of double hundreds in the tests and a few 150's in the ODI games.

  • Gupta.Ankur on October 19, 2011, 6:07 GMT

    I don't think i would be too worried about ponting.......instead he should worry about his own form.....

  • on October 19, 2011, 5:58 GMT

    Is everything hunky dory between Clarke and Punter..Or does Clarke want Punter out..this statement may put pressure on Punter to shine big and may eventually....reminds me of the statement Punter made about Tait before the match at Perth "20 wkts not enough for Taity" Tait was whimpering at the end of 5th day..Ponting undoubtedly made that statement with good intention but unfortunately it backfired...I am quite not sure abiut what is in Pup's mind though......

  • cric_freakNo2 on October 19, 2011, 5:12 GMT

    sachin may be a good batsmen but could never be equal to ponting .... dont bring BRADMAN in this issue because no present or past batsem are even half capable as he was. ..he is AWESOME

  • on October 19, 2011, 5:10 GMT

    Hahaha....I wonder at times that who comes in Aussie's dreams and makes them giving such an audacious statements... McGrath in 2005 Ashes saying "it will be 5-0" and after 2nd test: "It will be 4-1" and fun continues...

    Then Ricky Ponting in this world cup "wanting a tough game from Pakistan" ended up bowling out on lowest World cup score since 1992 and ended his 34-wins incredible run. Such an audacious statements are very easy to make, but not easy to be backed..And talking about him being leading run getter in the South Africa?? Since the day Kemar Roach hit him, he has become very very vulnerable against pace and bounce...I remember in the world cup Ian Chappell (on Ponting breaking the TV) said that people have made the mountain of the mole's hill and now you have angered Ponting..See his reaction...But what was the reaction? We all saw a harmless century in his last world cup innings and thats it..

  • Rooboy on October 19, 2011, 4:21 GMT

    True, natmastak_so_called, but Ponting did score an 81 and an 83 on the last SA tour. And more importantly, and as usual, Ponting's team won the series, Tendulkar's did not. And Ponting had the responsibility of captaincy, and fielded brilliantly, Tendulkar did not. But the point is that Punter did not go on to get the 'big' score and it is worrying to see the number of good 30s, 40s, even 70s, 80s Ponting is getting, and then getting himself out to a soft dismissal. I think he got out for 80ish for Tassie in their last Shield game too, after being dropped while hooking. It signals to me that the concentration, or the hunger, or both, are not at the level they were when he was undoubtably the best going around as a total run machine in the early-mid 2000s. Also, natmastak_so_called, if you've 'never seen aus selectors sticking with a playr who is terribly out of form', you weren't watching when Tubby was playing. Agree ajayrcs, Ponting scores big, Aus win ... that is regularly the way.

  • Ray24 on October 19, 2011, 4:14 GMT

    Assasinator, wait and see. Even if Ponting doesn't score here, we can't take away the fact that he is a class act. At this point that he is disturbed by the rising delivery is a combination of the hit he got from Roach and his own natural instinct to play the pull shot. Compared to Ponting, Sachin is a dolly as we saw in England just recently. And personally I've never seen any batsmen get hit on the head as many times as Sachin has been - thanks for the helmet, or else his career was over in the first series he played.

  • hris on October 19, 2011, 4:10 GMT

    i hope he comes good. he looked good in SL without getting a hundred. SA has been a good hunting ground for Ponting in the past but with his reflexes slowing down and against a quality pace attack he will have to be cautious with the short bowl. Maybe leave a few early. Old ponting would hammer these SA boys if they bowled short but now that same pull shot could be his vice.

  • ajayrcs on October 19, 2011, 3:30 GMT

    Ponting is the best batsman, Fielder, and was a great captain for Australia, I don't think there is or was anyone even slight better than him, Even if you all talk about Gilchrist,Hayden or Bradman, If people talk about Sachin as greatest For scoring runs don't forget Ponting is the one who is the highest scorer for Australia not Gilchrist,Hayden or even Bradman. So why anyone wants such a great player to retire.If he wants to bat at 3 let him bat. I am sure He won't stand idle on crease. If he is on the crease he will be the main threat for opposition, not clarke, marsh or watson you have seen in Sri Lanka or in India if these people score century it not big deal but when Ponting scores team win 70% of time.

  • natmastak_so-called on October 19, 2011, 3:23 GMT

    @ kaze: no need to bring sachin in this section. but as you have already pulled him here, I will like to inform you , that sachin scored 2 centuries in his lastSA tour, and punter scored NONE. SACHIN IS AND WILL ALWAYS BE PEERLESS.

  • natmastak_so-called on October 19, 2011, 3:18 GMT

    @ kaze ; fyi ,sachin scored 2 centuries in his last tour of SA.how many did punter scored in his last SA assignment.to my knowledge ,that number was a big 0.

  • natmastak_so-called on October 19, 2011, 2:50 GMT

    is there a draught of talent in auz land. I've never seen aus selectors sticking with a playr who is terribly out of form since last four years.

  • on October 19, 2011, 0:51 GMT

    s for Clarke sorry to say he could not Bowl, useless as batsman, very poor fielder and wastes a lot of time when batting, like changing gloves,wanting drinks and scratching his Axxe all the time, He should stay home and give the younger ones a go.After all these guys are the new Oz cricketers and good luck to them.

  • Meety on October 19, 2011, 0:37 GMT

    This Sth Africa tour is the Acid Test for Punter. He comes out with an ODI ave over 40 & a test ave around 50, he is worth his place for the home series. He is now a tour by tour proposition. Have high expectations that no captaincy = big scores from Punter. @Aussasinator - India win 2 ODIs & you rear your head again. After Oz is done with your mob this summer I suppose we won't see you again until you play Zimbabwe! LOL!

  • HatsforBats on October 18, 2011, 23:48 GMT

    Ponting's ODI form has been as good as ever even while his test form has been so inconsistent, or rather, consistently not up to standard. He has an excellent record in SA so hopefully that continues.

  • bobagorof on October 18, 2011, 23:33 GMT

    So if Ponting doesn't have a great series, what then? If he fails to deliver when he is in great form (according to his teammates) and has no pressure from captaincy, will it be time to drop him? I get the feeling that, as others have said (but I haven't believed until now), if he can't find a way to put a string of high-scoring innings together, this might be Ponting's last year.

  • landl47 on October 18, 2011, 21:04 GMT

    This will certainly be a test for Ponting. Even batsmen at the top of their game find Steyn and Morkel a handful. If he can make runs against them he will be back. Playing in the nets is one thing, making runs in the middle is another. As Ian Chappell so memorably put it in the last Ashes series: "Ponting is in great form. He just keeps getting out."

  • Kaze on October 18, 2011, 19:12 GMT

    @Aussasinator Are you sure you are talking about Ponting or Tendulkar ?

  • jonesy2 on October 18, 2011, 17:14 GMT

    having watched him of late i cant help but echo clarkes words. the great man will rise again. i fear for saffa bowlers

  • Aussasinator on October 18, 2011, 15:52 GMT

    I expect Clarke himself to do much better than Ponting. And Ponting was not convincing in Sri Lanka against Malinga in the ODIs or against Lakmal. The SA pacers will bounce him out by bowling into the body, rising stuff. I'd like to see Ponting face a full over from Morne Morkel without looking silly. If he gets out, he's saved himself the blushes. The South Africans are under no obligation to bring Ponting into form, let's be clear.

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  • Aussasinator on October 18, 2011, 15:52 GMT

    I expect Clarke himself to do much better than Ponting. And Ponting was not convincing in Sri Lanka against Malinga in the ODIs or against Lakmal. The SA pacers will bounce him out by bowling into the body, rising stuff. I'd like to see Ponting face a full over from Morne Morkel without looking silly. If he gets out, he's saved himself the blushes. The South Africans are under no obligation to bring Ponting into form, let's be clear.

  • jonesy2 on October 18, 2011, 17:14 GMT

    having watched him of late i cant help but echo clarkes words. the great man will rise again. i fear for saffa bowlers

  • Kaze on October 18, 2011, 19:12 GMT

    @Aussasinator Are you sure you are talking about Ponting or Tendulkar ?

  • landl47 on October 18, 2011, 21:04 GMT

    This will certainly be a test for Ponting. Even batsmen at the top of their game find Steyn and Morkel a handful. If he can make runs against them he will be back. Playing in the nets is one thing, making runs in the middle is another. As Ian Chappell so memorably put it in the last Ashes series: "Ponting is in great form. He just keeps getting out."

  • bobagorof on October 18, 2011, 23:33 GMT

    So if Ponting doesn't have a great series, what then? If he fails to deliver when he is in great form (according to his teammates) and has no pressure from captaincy, will it be time to drop him? I get the feeling that, as others have said (but I haven't believed until now), if he can't find a way to put a string of high-scoring innings together, this might be Ponting's last year.

  • HatsforBats on October 18, 2011, 23:48 GMT

    Ponting's ODI form has been as good as ever even while his test form has been so inconsistent, or rather, consistently not up to standard. He has an excellent record in SA so hopefully that continues.

  • Meety on October 19, 2011, 0:37 GMT

    This Sth Africa tour is the Acid Test for Punter. He comes out with an ODI ave over 40 & a test ave around 50, he is worth his place for the home series. He is now a tour by tour proposition. Have high expectations that no captaincy = big scores from Punter. @Aussasinator - India win 2 ODIs & you rear your head again. After Oz is done with your mob this summer I suppose we won't see you again until you play Zimbabwe! LOL!

  • on October 19, 2011, 0:51 GMT

    s for Clarke sorry to say he could not Bowl, useless as batsman, very poor fielder and wastes a lot of time when batting, like changing gloves,wanting drinks and scratching his Axxe all the time, He should stay home and give the younger ones a go.After all these guys are the new Oz cricketers and good luck to them.

  • natmastak_so-called on October 19, 2011, 2:50 GMT

    is there a draught of talent in auz land. I've never seen aus selectors sticking with a playr who is terribly out of form since last four years.

  • natmastak_so-called on October 19, 2011, 3:18 GMT

    @ kaze ; fyi ,sachin scored 2 centuries in his last tour of SA.how many did punter scored in his last SA assignment.to my knowledge ,that number was a big 0.