Australia in Sri Lanka 2011 August 15, 2011

Ponting 'fresher' without captaincy burden

ESPNcricinfo staff

Ricky Ponting has said he is enjoying his new batsman-only role after giving up the captaincy following Australia's disappointing World Cup earlier this year. Ponting handed the leadership to Michael Clarke but decided against retiring, and it's a move that has allowed him to concentrate solely on his run-scoring.

In the last year of his captaincy, Ponting struggled to have an impact with the bat, and averaged 30.23 in one-day internationals and 29 in Test cricket. But half-centuries in his two innings in Sri Lanka over the past week have been encouraging, especially an unbeaten 90 that helped Australia to an eight-wicket win in Hambantota on Sunday, where Ponting earned his first ODI Man-of-the-Match award in 18 months.

"It probably has," Ponting said when asked if relinquishing the leadership had allowed him to focus more on his batting. "The World Cup didn't go to plan as I would have wanted. The one-day series in Bangladesh that I played when I wasn't captain, I felt like a played well there and I've started this series well.

"There's no doubt that for me to just be able to turn up to training and focus on my batting and my fielding only has been nice. I've been able to be just that little bit fresher and I've felt in control in the two games I've played here so far. Hopefully that continues for the rest of the tour."

By playing on after giving up as skipper, Ponting bucked the trend of recent Australian captains: he was the first since Kim Hughes nearly 30 years ago to play on. At 36, Ponting remains unsure how long he has left in the game, but he said for the time being he was keen to keep making runs at No. 3 and help Clarke in any way required.

"I thought long and hard about the decision I made," Ponting said. "Once I'd come to the conclusion that I wasn't the captain of the side anymore it was up to me to just be the best batsman that I could be for the side and another pair of ears for Michael if he ever wanted it. As the No. 3 batsman in the side there's a big responsibility for me to score runs more often than not. So far things have started well."

Australia have hardly been challenged in the opening two ODIs and they could wrap the series up with victory in the third match in Hambantota on Tuesday. So far their batsmen haven't had too much trouble against the Sri Lankan attack, so much so that the No. 6, David Hussey, has not yet been required to bat.

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  • Andrew on August 18, 2011, 23:42 GMT

    @ hyclass - I saw a photo of Gilbert in his delivery stride - he was all arms! The Don also said his action was illegal, but I think in todays game, he probably was within tolerance! @ 5wombats - I remember "Grandma Gooch & Grandpa Gatting" - they were overweight & unfit. Ponting & Huss are amongst the most fittest players in the game. There's an old saying I first heard when playing Rugby League by Jack Gibson, "If you're good enough, you're old enough". In more demanding physical sports like the American NFL, Quarterbacks play on well into their 40s, (IF THEY'RE GOOD ENOUGH!). Punter is no longer captain so hopefully he will be retained "IF HE's GOOD ENOUGH!"

  • Syed Adeel on August 18, 2011, 13:30 GMT

    @spiritwithin :

    What these stats dont tell u is How often he ripped apart The Aussie batting order comprising of the Haydens ,The Gillys and The Pontings..How many Bowlers are there who have single handedly taken down Australia with just one furious spell of Fast bowling..The Aussies feared him and they had every reason to do so..And as far as the stats goes Have a look at Freddie Flintoff stats and let me know if he was such a fuzz about considering those ?? Stats dont always tell the picture mate..Shane bond was the other one i remember who troubled the Aussie batting line up..To me Ishant was over rated l and besides Australia in 2008 and Australia in 2001-02 are two different things..!

  • ali on August 18, 2011, 12:57 GMT

    Ricky Ponting is a legend because he is batted No.3 in both ODI and Tests throught his career and Sachin Tendulkar can't do bat at no. 3

  • ali on August 18, 2011, 12:54 GMT

    i think Ricky Ponting is still the best batsma.

  • Christopher on August 17, 2011, 5:16 GMT

    Bravo @Meety...very well said! Outside India,Tendulkar is held in the highest esteem and ive never heard his claims to greatness called into question.The only negative comments ive ever read about Tendulkar,have all come from Indians.One only has to look to the current England series to see it on Cricinfo.I wonder when they will understand that they are doing their cause far more harm than good and that constantly hijacking inappropriate forums lacks grace.As for Bradman,I had heard of him shooting 75 when he was close to 80.I can say with confidence,that my current golfing prowess is similar to yours @Meety and i doff my hat to him.I find his conversion rate,over his entire career,of 50s to 100s,incredible.I know of no other cricketer at any level,from club onwards,who scores 2 X 100s for every 50.Amazing.In a segway,I wonder how fast Eddie Gilbert was.Bradman played him in 1931 and described him as far faster than Larwood or anyone else he ever saw.Larwood was timed at around 160kmh.

  • Andrew on August 17, 2011, 2:40 GMT

    @rahulcricindia - sorry to offend you but you but you were clearly wrong in your first comment. His 100s to matches played is twice what you stated - still very good. The Don had a nation wanting a hero during the depression & then post war years - so matey he had heaps of pressure, he had a nation riding every ball he faced - like SRT! Nobody in Oz detracts from SRTs achievements, the only people that cheapen his outstanding career is people like you who bag other players to make SRT seem even better. Poor sportsmanship!! @hyclass - don't forget he (The Don) could beat his age in a round of Golf even in his late 80s as well!!!!! I've never cracked 90!!!!!!

  • Christopher on August 17, 2011, 0:03 GMT

    With respect @PeterBourke,the comments on SL attack are valid because the WC team had both Murali and Malinga contributing to their result.Neither of those two were available for the first ODI in SL.The comments regarding the performance of Mendis in the T20,should be focusing more on the game of T20 itself as a root cause for such bowling figures,rather than pitch conditions.The real danger in facing the variety of Mendis,is in having to score off every ball.Once that instant scoring pressure is removed,he becomes far more manageable.It highlights why 20/20 is such a danger to traditional cricket.Pontings runs are valid,but after 4 years of indifferent form,he has some convincing to do.All his innings since the Ashes have been ODI on the sub continent.His failings have been against pace and bounce,neither of which the sub-continent tests.Like Buchanan,i think he was heavily overburdened as captain and its no coincidence that his form lapse coincides with this administrations tenure.

  • vadivel on August 16, 2011, 18:11 GMT

    hai still ponting goes on strong and i am not accept that england are the strong bowling line up in the world they need to prove in the subcontinent and also in south africa . then for me they cant able to live in the top for too long south africa is the tight contestant and the magicman man dhoni at any time will come back with his magic wizard

  • Subba on August 16, 2011, 16:17 GMT

    He's only thinking of himself even now, as he was during his captaincy. it wont be too long before the visible burden called Ponting will be so obvious on the TEAM THAT THEY'LL HAVE TO SEND HIM OFF IN THE INTEREST OF AUSTRALIAN CRICKET!

  • kan on August 16, 2011, 15:46 GMT

    Ponting has past his prime, he may get away in Srilanka in absance of Murli, but he will surely struggle in south africe against the quicks, can't undestand CA kept Ponting but let go in-form Katich, should have been the other way round.

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