Australia v England, 2nd Test, Adelaide, 1st day December 3, 2010

Australia's trouble at the top

Captain and vice-captain made a combined total of two runs for the home side and with the leaders removed Australia stumbled badly
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In times of crisis teams look to their leaders for calm direction, but Australia's two most senior officers are contributing to many of the spiralling problems. Ricky Ponting is a man distracted by issues everywhere he peers and Michael Clarke isn't sure whether it's his form, his back or both that are causing his worsening troubles.

Together the confusion helped create Australia's worst opening to a Test innings in 60 years as they lost their first three wickets for two runs. Shane Watson called it "a horrendous start" and blamed himself for setting up the chain of devastating events by running out Simon Katich. Following that brutal accident, the captain and vice-captain joined the damage and were out just 13 balls and 11 minutes after the start.

Losing one leader so early was sloppy and not uncommon - it was Ponting's fifth first-ball duck in 150 Tests - but watching two drop so suddenly was disturbing. In such a tight series those handful of minutes could cost Australia the urn.

Having been controlled by England for the second half of the opening Test, Ponting satisfied himself with the fact the series was still 0-0 and his unit could strike back in Adelaide. After winning the toss, Ponting failed immediately in achieving his ambition, leaving the side two-down after five deliveries.

On Adelaide's pitch, a total of 500 is no guarantee of safety and Australia finished well short at 245, their smallest first-innings total here since 1991-92. The score was the most visible example of a team in disarray, although the mix-up run-outs of Katich and Xavier Doherty were also prominent lowlights.

Ponting is a captain hoping to avoid his third Ashes loss while trying to regain form and hold together a squad on the verge of imploding. He seems to blame the selectors for dropping Mitchell Johnson, the side's ailing spearhead, and losing his say on the make-up of side. The off-field pressures wouldn't matter as much if Ponting was posting centuries but despite being fitter and leaner than ever, his batting powers are waning noticeably.

Over the past year, Ponting has found various strange ways of being removed, from misjudging singles to retiring hurt and glancing behind. Today his dismissal came from a more familiar flaw as he walked at James Anderson's delivery as it curled away. With his team in desperate need of stability, Ponting pushed forward tentatively instead of purposefully, hitting his pad on the way through.

At 35, Ponting can no longer overcome the extra early movement and his edge went to second slip, where Graeme Swann dived to his left for an excellent take. A good ball was played unsatisfactorily and Ponting was second in the long line of disappointed local batsmen.

Clarke, who was next to depart, has been a great Ashes batsman in the past two series, but hasn't provided anything convincing in his opening two outings of this campaign. Since he moved to No.4 in July he has averaged 18.5 in 10 bats, with his 2 in this innings sitting uncomfortably with his 9 in Brisbane. One spot in the order has made a huge difference.

After his side's painful double-loss, Clarke stepped out on a ground on which he has three Test hundreds. A player in his vital position needs to decide whether to hang on or take off, but he was bound by the insecurity of his stroke-play and could do neither. In six deliveries he glanced a single to fine leg and played and missed twice to Stuart Broad, who then forced him to turn his head from a short ball. Clarke's awkward fend ended in his final single and more lengthy discussions about his fitness.

Clarke doesn't deliver public excuses and said on Wednesday that his back injury, which flared two weeks before the opening Test, is not causing him any restrictions. He didn't blame it on his stuttering in Brisbane and won't for this brief display. Yet something is seriously wrong.

Ponting spent a long time with his deputy in the nets the day before the game, but that one-on-one tutorial didn't cause a turnaround. When he edged another Anderson ball that was moving away, Clarke was off balance, lunging forward at a danger which needed to be defended.

As the leader in waiting, Clarke could be installed as captain by early next year if Ponting fails to win back the urn. The looming pressure is another weight dragging down Ponting and Clarke, along with all the other fitness and form concerns of their group. Both men have company in this crisis, with damage occurring from top to bottom.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on December 4, 2010, 17:05 GMT

    Cricket- the game that mirrors life the most. This article: very instructive.

  • PRasHanT_PoL on December 4, 2010, 7:39 GMT

    M North Out & Cameron White In. S Katich Out & S Marsh In.

    Also C White Captain Of AUS Team.

    M Marsh,C Ferguson very talented Youngster Of AUS Cricket.

  • CricFanKrish on December 4, 2010, 7:06 GMT

    I think we are being a bit too critical of this great Aussie team. Trust me, both the Punter and the Pup will be back with a bang. Mitch is too good a bowler to be out on form for long. AFAIK, all the three have a great work ethic, and that is surely going to pay off.

    TBH, I'm really feeling uncomfortable that Punter is getting closer to Sachin. I expect 4-5 centuries off his great blade in the next 6 months. Perhaps he will choose the world cup as his relaunch pad. Agreed, he is not getting younger. But then, neither is Sachin.

    I believe that Oz is just in the process of building a future team. Perhaps the Pup may not be the next captain. That only time will tell. After Oz have stolen umpteen wins from various opposition from hopeless positions on so many occasions, I am just not willing to count them out at any given time.

  • ihaq1 on December 4, 2010, 6:42 GMT

    i have looked at some alternate australian bowling and only see mckay and hastings as options...the australians should obviously have someone like mcgrath select their bowlers...in batsmen callum ferguson has a good one day reputation as well as usman..in the captaincy stakes one should move hussey up the order to challenge cameron white whose batting was very good on some tours...and some say the coach too needs a change...nielson seems tobe not doing his job as if players are failing they need tobe dropped before rather than midway which is thought as a last resort measure...australia going in to the series seemed to look as lacking resources and temperament...the whole selection seems wrong for this series as okeefe seemed the more appropriate spinning choice too

  • ihaq1 on December 4, 2010, 6:33 GMT

    it was the bowlers that got dropped although one thought that hilfenhaus was unlucky...australia has given some new bowlers tryouts but they hav'nt succeeded showing selectorial problems...maybe clarke and ponting are both getting too old although hussey too is 35...that shows that australia have not developed backup batting strength and have not really put thought into bowling options...both are the prime jobs of the selectors and the captain...australia need probably one new strike bowler and at least two batsman who can walk into the team when clarke and ponting fail permanently...

  • rohanbala on December 4, 2010, 6:23 GMT

    @ SFay... you are absolutely right. To say it in the words of Ian Chappell, what players like Shane Watson deserve (for the lack of commitment, passion and drive) is a kick on the backside. About Michael Clarke, less said the better.. one wonders why he is in the side when not fully fit. Will we ever see any current player follow the example of Mike Denness (the England captain) who dropped himself from the team due to poor form?

  • rohanbala on December 4, 2010, 6:09 GMT

    Michael Clarke.... the captain in waiting? Neither the selectors nor Clarke himself cant be sure whether the single-digit scorer will hold his place in the team by the end of this series, leave alone captain the side next year.

  • momoman on December 4, 2010, 2:37 GMT

    We are seeing the results of an extremely poor build up. Why should we play a one day series against sri lanka right before the Ashes?? Im sick to death of the amount of shit cricket we are forced to play. The ICC and Cricket Australia are running around like headless chickens forcing cricketers to play insane amounts of MEANINGLESS cricket just to make a quick buck. Then they go and spend all this money on our domestic 20 comp, screw with the 50 over game and then schedule the 4 day games almost side by side with the ashes..no wonder North is still in the team, there is no one with any real batting under their belt. CA should have had a solid month or even 2 of only 4 day cricket..put ALL the Aussie players back in it and said play some good cricket or your out! Who knows we might have seen some inform players and maybe even some suitable replacements. I would go watch all the test players in a 4 day domestic game...

  • montys_muse on December 3, 2010, 23:51 GMT

    I think Watson should gobackto play at no.6 and a specialist opener should be put in his place, atleast for tests.

  • xylo on December 3, 2010, 22:58 GMT

    When was the last time Clarke was in form. To me, he is the batsman equivalent of Mitchell Johnson. And to top that, he was taking jabs at Hussey and Bollinger for opting to play for their franchisees. As such, the players who "sacrificed" IPL to do justice to their test-playing skills have so far had a horrid time! Not to mean that Clarke would have been picked up by an IPL team (RCB's Test XI for IPL1 maybe).

    Just like Johnson, he needs to clear out his head, and let some talented, maybe less experienced, player do some justice to the batting slot.

  • on December 4, 2010, 17:05 GMT

    Cricket- the game that mirrors life the most. This article: very instructive.

  • PRasHanT_PoL on December 4, 2010, 7:39 GMT

    M North Out & Cameron White In. S Katich Out & S Marsh In.

    Also C White Captain Of AUS Team.

    M Marsh,C Ferguson very talented Youngster Of AUS Cricket.

  • CricFanKrish on December 4, 2010, 7:06 GMT

    I think we are being a bit too critical of this great Aussie team. Trust me, both the Punter and the Pup will be back with a bang. Mitch is too good a bowler to be out on form for long. AFAIK, all the three have a great work ethic, and that is surely going to pay off.

    TBH, I'm really feeling uncomfortable that Punter is getting closer to Sachin. I expect 4-5 centuries off his great blade in the next 6 months. Perhaps he will choose the world cup as his relaunch pad. Agreed, he is not getting younger. But then, neither is Sachin.

    I believe that Oz is just in the process of building a future team. Perhaps the Pup may not be the next captain. That only time will tell. After Oz have stolen umpteen wins from various opposition from hopeless positions on so many occasions, I am just not willing to count them out at any given time.

  • ihaq1 on December 4, 2010, 6:42 GMT

    i have looked at some alternate australian bowling and only see mckay and hastings as options...the australians should obviously have someone like mcgrath select their bowlers...in batsmen callum ferguson has a good one day reputation as well as usman..in the captaincy stakes one should move hussey up the order to challenge cameron white whose batting was very good on some tours...and some say the coach too needs a change...nielson seems tobe not doing his job as if players are failing they need tobe dropped before rather than midway which is thought as a last resort measure...australia going in to the series seemed to look as lacking resources and temperament...the whole selection seems wrong for this series as okeefe seemed the more appropriate spinning choice too

  • ihaq1 on December 4, 2010, 6:33 GMT

    it was the bowlers that got dropped although one thought that hilfenhaus was unlucky...australia has given some new bowlers tryouts but they hav'nt succeeded showing selectorial problems...maybe clarke and ponting are both getting too old although hussey too is 35...that shows that australia have not developed backup batting strength and have not really put thought into bowling options...both are the prime jobs of the selectors and the captain...australia need probably one new strike bowler and at least two batsman who can walk into the team when clarke and ponting fail permanently...

  • rohanbala on December 4, 2010, 6:23 GMT

    @ SFay... you are absolutely right. To say it in the words of Ian Chappell, what players like Shane Watson deserve (for the lack of commitment, passion and drive) is a kick on the backside. About Michael Clarke, less said the better.. one wonders why he is in the side when not fully fit. Will we ever see any current player follow the example of Mike Denness (the England captain) who dropped himself from the team due to poor form?

  • rohanbala on December 4, 2010, 6:09 GMT

    Michael Clarke.... the captain in waiting? Neither the selectors nor Clarke himself cant be sure whether the single-digit scorer will hold his place in the team by the end of this series, leave alone captain the side next year.

  • momoman on December 4, 2010, 2:37 GMT

    We are seeing the results of an extremely poor build up. Why should we play a one day series against sri lanka right before the Ashes?? Im sick to death of the amount of shit cricket we are forced to play. The ICC and Cricket Australia are running around like headless chickens forcing cricketers to play insane amounts of MEANINGLESS cricket just to make a quick buck. Then they go and spend all this money on our domestic 20 comp, screw with the 50 over game and then schedule the 4 day games almost side by side with the ashes..no wonder North is still in the team, there is no one with any real batting under their belt. CA should have had a solid month or even 2 of only 4 day cricket..put ALL the Aussie players back in it and said play some good cricket or your out! Who knows we might have seen some inform players and maybe even some suitable replacements. I would go watch all the test players in a 4 day domestic game...

  • montys_muse on December 3, 2010, 23:51 GMT

    I think Watson should gobackto play at no.6 and a specialist opener should be put in his place, atleast for tests.

  • xylo on December 3, 2010, 22:58 GMT

    When was the last time Clarke was in form. To me, he is the batsman equivalent of Mitchell Johnson. And to top that, he was taking jabs at Hussey and Bollinger for opting to play for their franchisees. As such, the players who "sacrificed" IPL to do justice to their test-playing skills have so far had a horrid time! Not to mean that Clarke would have been picked up by an IPL team (RCB's Test XI for IPL1 maybe).

    Just like Johnson, he needs to clear out his head, and let some talented, maybe less experienced, player do some justice to the batting slot.

  • Andrew13_84 on December 3, 2010, 22:33 GMT

    I would love to know how the Australian head coach and batting coach justify keeping their jobs. A test team that suffers 2 run-outs on the first day of an important test has some issues. Maybe they need to sack the head coach and replace with a running-between-the-wickets coach? And the batting coach, what is he doing? Ponting and Clarke don't keep their back foot still when stepping forward, a basic batting prinicple. Compare to the rock-steady footwork of Watson and even Haddin. And North's backlift ensures his bat doesn''t come down straight. If a club cricketer can pick see these, what the hell is the batting coach doing? Or are Ponting and Clarke just too egotistical to listen and change. Even Watson and Hussey got out to pretty soft shots after batting very well. All in all I feel as though I wasted 7 hours of my life watching yesterday's 'performance' from Australia

  • on December 3, 2010, 22:29 GMT

    I think this article is spot on IMO, and if you ask a lot of Australians what their views are at the moment. Most will tell that the Australian cricket team has some serious issues to sort out, that they need a clear out and some fresh blood needed in their side. Australia could bounce back on day 2 and may win this test and the ashes back, but I dont think it will change the fact they need to sort out the problems in the side. I think this will be Pontings last series as captain BTW.

  • DiggersRus on December 3, 2010, 22:13 GMT

    I think writing off Australia in this test match is very premature, as it was writing off England after the first day at Brisbane. We'll know a lot more by lunch today... this first session this morning is crucial to the outcome of the match! My money is on Harris taking a hat full.

  • on December 3, 2010, 22:12 GMT

    re scgboy. you're quite right. english selection policy in the 1990s: lose a test, drop hick, lose the next test, recall hick and so on and so forth. it was only when we actually started to persevere with players that we came good. most notably flintoff who took 4 or 5 years to be a good test player. i wouldn't wish the kind of rubbish we had to watch in the 90s on anyone, not even you lot.

  • proud_aussie_simmo on December 3, 2010, 22:02 GMT

    I'm of the opinion White would be a great captaincy option, but the selectors would need to pick him as a player first. I can't believe that he is continually overlooked. He can bat powerfully enough to change a game in a session, but he also showed in the Aus A game that he can play a pateint innings when it's needed.

  • Stevo_ on December 3, 2010, 21:47 GMT

    @merindah "Imagine Border, Langer, Waugh or any ex player when asked that Q after a terrible 1st day play"

    Couldn't agree more, nearly threw the remote through the TV when I saw Shane Watson smirking and giggling and being all ho-hum about the whole thing like it was just another game of cricket. Where is the passion and the drive . Disgraceful I agree with A.Symonds - he should worry less about his hair and more about the team

  • guesswhat555 on December 3, 2010, 21:11 GMT

    Greg Chappel has an uncanny knack of bringing the house down. He was part of Aus build up for ashes in england (2-1 to england), what he did to india we all know and now as a selector for Aussie, doesnt look too promising. Remove greg chappel and win the ashes. Its that simple! lol

  • on December 3, 2010, 20:39 GMT

    Its only day one. Don't just jump on Aussies. If they get pommies out for 200 runs before stumps, all of us will have "foot in mouth" disease.

  • on December 3, 2010, 19:46 GMT

    Who knows what day 2 will bring but if England get a move on and score quickly when the Aussies spray it wide! then we're screwed and we'll be 1-0 down quicker than you can say HOWZAT!

  • on December 3, 2010, 19:39 GMT

    This test is over. Under the guise of a 'rest' Ponting and the clearly injured Clarke need to be dropped for the Perth. Philip Hughes and Usman Khawaja can slot in, Hughes opening, Khawaja at number 6. Everyone else can shuffle around with Hussey at 3. North can be given one final chance to play for his home crowd but I don't want to have to sit in the stands and see Clarke carry on like he's not a lame duck in this lineup.

  • on December 3, 2010, 19:22 GMT

    Every rise has a fall, and Australia is just tasting that! You can not be number one forever. Australian system was lauded to produce great teams during the last decade, but, like West Indies of 70 and 80s, and Pakistan under Imran Khan, the reason was the outstanding players that kept the team above others. Once they departed the Austrlaians, just like the West Indians and Paksitanis are facing below par performances back to back.

    The current buinch of players are good, not even excellent, unlike the previous bunch, who were Wolrd Class!

  • Nampally on December 3, 2010, 19:19 GMT

    It was sad to see a great team like Australia fall apart so badly.Ponting appears to be susceptable to a moving and rising ball on or just outside the off stump.Ishant Sharma got him out a number of times. It would be best in the interest of himself and the team that he drops down to #5 position where he may avoid facing the new ball should an early wicket fall. He can do this in the second innings. Taking a foolish run early in the innings and risking a run out got the team in trouble. Watson and Katich should understand the importance of a solid start in a 5 day test match. Australia could still get back into the game if their 4 pronged pace attack, which is quicker than the England's, rises to the occasion.All the front line England batsmen are susceptable to the moving ball. Keep the length and direction right and with some movement on this wicket, they can stll keep England below 300 with good fielding and catching. An interesting day 2 is ahead with outcome in balance.

  • on December 3, 2010, 19:06 GMT

    Despite his high average - Ponting is in the Mahela class. Great when the bowlers are so-so and the ball is not doing much, lousy otherwise. With age (and with no Hayden at the top and Symonds/Gilly for backup) the chinks are really showing. The English might still let him get back in, but I wouldn't be surprised if we bid adieu to him at the end of this series. Would be a good thing for Oz too..... and Clarke? He is firmly in the Yuvraj class - drop him.

  • on December 3, 2010, 18:02 GMT

    Sincerely hope Australia bundles England below 200 and goes on to win the match. No, I dont have any soft spot for either the captain or the vice captain but for the country who showed the world - what it takes to be world beaters.

  • Aussasinator on December 3, 2010, 16:57 GMT

    Clarke will shine as batsman and captain, but only in Ponting's absence. The team's bowling will also resurrect with purpose under Clarke since he's the younger face they vibe better with. it's time for change but the oz might realise it only after the ashes, but will they? But nobody's complaining because in Ponting's presence lies the opposition's best chances of winning- almost anywhere!

  • asadkum on December 3, 2010, 16:50 GMT

    Mohammad Asad from USA.................................................................

    Yeah, AUS has very slim chance in this series............................................ Clarke is not in his form ... and I guess he is not 100% fit too ....................... Ponting is a great batsman, no doubt about it !!!! It's cricket - and it happens in cricket ...................................... Selector should consider about Warner, White and to a some extent Symonds....

  • Scgboy on December 3, 2010, 16:46 GMT

    yes, the team isn't doing well and yes England's bowling/fielding isn't bad to say the least.well done to them. That said , whole scale changes in the middle of a series , is not the way to produce a good and balanced unit.Just ask england , they were doing it for years much to their demerit.Players constantly looking over their shoulders for the Axe, isn't the best way to produce sterling results , its just promotes disharmony.

    I concur , that a few players ,need to be substituted in and out, Johnson had to be drooped and probably a batsman as well.History will tell you gentleman that drooping a captain in the middle of Ashes, doesn't bode well ,just ask Mr Lawry and chapple to confirm that for you

  • gvspraveen on December 3, 2010, 16:41 GMT

    contd..I really like to see Ponting play well. He is one of the exciting and great players we have seen in the past. I always used to feel fortunate to see Lara, Sachin and Ponting (3 of the very best) play in this generation. Lara retired on high and I want the same with Sachin and Ponting. As a pure cricket lover I want these kind of players to always succeed. Because they set example for next generation of players.

  • gvspraveen on December 3, 2010, 16:28 GMT

    I think Ponting is digging his own hole. He needs be a little tougher on Clarke and North as a captain. Both these guys have not been contributing anything in the recent past and hence putting extra pressure on Punter at the top to score runs. Very few ppl like Lara, Sachin, Dravid-Kallis(to an extent) have handled that responsibility well in their careers. Punter is so used to playing with bunch of other batsman who would score irrespective of whether No.3 fails or not, which allowed him to play free scoring innings. Suddenly he doesn't have this luxury because of No.4 and No.6 failing too often. And also he is dealing with his not so good form purely owing to his reflexes which have slowed down a touch with the age. All this contributed to his poor returns (by his standards) over last 3 yrs. If he was bold enough to drop North and get someone like Hodge or someone who is more consistent, then he doesn't need to deal with this pressure. This way he can be that great batsman he was.

  • on December 3, 2010, 16:15 GMT

    To Ponting, its time you learn the art of fighting under crisis (on and off the field) from your predecessor, Steve Waugh...you need to start firing 'BIG' from the next innings...there are many more records to be broken...come back soon!!!

  • on December 3, 2010, 16:15 GMT

    Its not good even now to write off Australia..they might bundle out England under 200!!!

  • JAVEDATHERSURGEON on December 3, 2010, 15:52 GMT

    so many people calling for doherty to be dropped, guys talk sense- the man has not even bowled in this match yet. who knows what he may do on day 2 and surely on the 5th day

  • on December 3, 2010, 15:48 GMT

    Australia will surely win this match and this series. Bollinger, Harris and Siddle will bowl well and will get England all out by tomorrow tea session. Katich , Punter and Clarke will bat well in second innings. Australia will beat England by 150-200 runs in this test match!!!

  • 5wombats on December 3, 2010, 15:30 GMT

    @cric_follower . "Ponting still a great player.... just watch him for the rest of the series". Yeah - alright mate; we'll all enjoy doing that..... if he is so great why isn't he in the world top 10 batsmen at the moment? He's in a tail spin along with his team. There are massive issues rumbling through the Aus selectors at the moment - and Punter is going to remain in the middle of that.

  • GeekyCricket on December 3, 2010, 15:29 GMT

    Clarke is a concern, he should go back to NO.5. His record is good at 5 than 4. Hussey, was exceptional at 4.Selectors forced him to bat at 5, his form dipped. Luckily he is coming good now. Hussey, is the man in form and he should come ahead of Clarke.

  • on December 3, 2010, 15:28 GMT

    I seriously think both should be axed.

  • Roger_Allott on December 3, 2010, 15:12 GMT

    Ponting is great batsman but a poor captain. He's good at some aspects of captaincy (press relations, team bonding, mentoring, coaching) but he has always been bad at tactics ever since he was given the role. Australia's decline will continue while he's at the helm, but for chrissakes don't get rid of him completely! His ideal role is as the senior batting figure in the team where he can do a lot more good in forging a new Aussie breed than he can as captain. Who to take over the captaincy with Clarke struggling for personal form and with a persistent injury? A good interim choice might be Hussey, or Watson if they feel that it's crucial to have someone with a few more years left in the tank.

  • on December 3, 2010, 15:04 GMT

    I would do a switch, take away captaincy and vice captaincy from both of them after the AShes, if you want to start fresh then start fresh. Make someone else the captain and see them pile the runs on. Its sometimes not a good idea to make the best batsman the captain.

    There are few choices, forget Marcus North though, he is a team man, but not good enough with the bat, that front pad of his has a huge cross on it, to hit for bowlers, ASif made him look like a girl with all due respect to all girls, every time he bowled to him, that is where downfall started last summer.

    Go for Watson, make him the captain, have Haddin as his vice captain, things would go right from there.

  • Herbet on December 3, 2010, 14:59 GMT

    Who wants Khawaja in for Hussey now? Hussey, even when out of form, has always been to me one of those batsmen you want out as soon as you can because once in he seems extremely sticky and determined. This series so far has highlighted that well. And despite his somewhat gruff on field demeanor he appears to me a decent fella as well. Clarke on the other hand, even though he has all the toys, just has always seemed to have a sort of air of vulnerability about him, particularly in hard times like the 2005 Ashes, which makes him seem a soft touch.

  • AashishK on December 3, 2010, 14:49 GMT

    well i would definitely love to see David Warner in place of simon Katich . Australia are missing Adam Gilchrist but Warner could fill up his boots instead of ageing Katich and Replace Marcus North With Cameron White , also bring Andrew Symonds back in place of doherty . Enlgand are places pretty nicely to win this Ashes Series . Go POMS Go , u dont need to worry until ponting gets out of his own problems

  • on December 3, 2010, 14:45 GMT

    final days for RICKETS....HAHAHA.. Clarke is d future captain rofl..

  • CricLook on December 3, 2010, 14:33 GMT

    i agree with mansvi....in past australian selectors are very hard in assesing players performance even waugh borthers, mark taylor others greats did survive....one of the reason of aussies downfall is the selectors are not brave enough to drop their batsman. Markus North i guess will struggle to get a place in any top side...surprisingly he retains his position in a team that used to be no. 1!!!. As a captain Ponting should be bold enough to say his team mates about their performance. They did it in case of bowlers but not for batsman....ultimately its the batsman dominated game....Hopefully they will able to fight and save the test...But I fear Ponting is in the path of destinition where no Aussie captain will like to be..His previous achievements will not save his face and greatness...

  • NewYorkCricket on December 3, 2010, 14:11 GMT

    Pathetic writing by whoever it is. Ponting is a still a great player. He was out to a very good ball. Just watch him for the rest of the series.

  • on December 3, 2010, 13:58 GMT

    CRY ON pochard!!! HEHEHEHAHAHA

  • maltkow on December 3, 2010, 13:57 GMT

    The Aussies only have a chance if they pick Hauritz or Krejza. Get rid of Doherty!!!

  • sonofchennai on December 3, 2010, 13:49 GMT

    Alas...tragedy..i expected some form from punter after his last innings 50..I think now Punter and everyone would have realised how tough it is for the best batsman in the team to perform and bat well if rest of the team is falling like pack of cards and team is not winning....Sorry all to bring this comparison..but this is where Sachin, Lara and Dravid outshines Ponting...Ponting for his most of the career has played in a largely successfull team unlike Sachin and Lara.....Ponting is clearly the best batsman in this aus team but if he continues this way...

  • on December 3, 2010, 13:35 GMT

    What ever happened to the 5-0 prediction by McGrath and other Aussie "experts". Given the current state of this team, they will be lucky to finish 1-3! Its time they drop Clarke, North and Doherthy. Hauritz is a better bowler than Doherthy any day!

  • on December 3, 2010, 13:30 GMT

    Straight swaps - Clarke for Smith, White for Ponting. Forget about Ponting now. ANd forget about Clarke being heir apparent. He's lost it.

  • KingofRedLions on December 3, 2010, 13:24 GMT

    I would also add that England's bowling today, especially Anderson, was very good.

  • KingofRedLions on December 3, 2010, 13:23 GMT

    There was nothing concerning about the way Ponting got out or his form. That kind of thing has happened throughout his career, and he's just come off an unbeaten 50. I dare suggest his nerves were a bit jangled too. Clarke is the bigger concern. Is no. 4 his position? Is he actually fit? Radical suggestion: move North to four.

  • bboynexus on December 3, 2010, 13:15 GMT

    I really can't work Ponting out. Last innings he scored an awesome 51 not out and here he gets out for a golden duck. I just don't get it. I don't think it has anything to do with his batting whatsoever. I think it's simply his captaincy. It's weighing him down, and he's too damn stubborn to admit it. The poor bloke is having to deal with the terrible test form that Michael Clarke has been in for the last five tests. He's having to deal with a certain Marcus North. And he's having to deal with a bunch of fluctuating bowlers who can't take 20 wickets anymore. No blame should be laid squarely on Ponting. The media - and cricket fans - tend to do that. I assure you, the team is not the sum of its captain. It's the sum of everybody in it. And lately a good two thirds of the team have been performing absolutely abysmally.

  • mits6 on December 3, 2010, 13:08 GMT

    I think the selectors should be blamed , first they select a weaker squad & then shuffle players ( drop some ,select others ) during the tournament , this only lowers the morale of the team . Aussies are no less good than english team ( atleast in home conditions ), but brits are high on confidence & morever a stable unit.

  • Lovetesh on December 3, 2010, 13:01 GMT

    After first test, couple of changes in bowling deptt. After second test its going to be couple of changes in batting with both clarke and north on their way out. It's sad that Aussie selectors need such rude shock to get into action. But one thing is looking sure that by the fifth test Australia may be playing with its best XI with all the garbage out as ashes will be lost by then reducing the pressure to make drastic changes.

  • soorajiyer on December 3, 2010, 12:53 GMT

    Take ricky out from captaincy and see him perform! Take out Clarke and North, or play North as a spinner and take out Doherty!

    @Chris_Howard - you hit the nail on its head.. "cant convert 50s to anything better".. That exactly is the problem.

    Cant wait for Bolli to come and have a crack.. Ricky lost the plot today, he should have given the ball to Bolli for last one over and have a crack at Strauss and cook..

  • on December 3, 2010, 12:50 GMT

    Clarke is a classy batsman when he's in form, although he is looking out of sorts so far in the series. It's Marcus North who I think has exhausted his chances. I just don't know what it will take for the selectors to drop North.

  • sandy_bangalore on December 3, 2010, 12:47 GMT

    I am a neutral from India, but its not very good to see the continuing woes of the Australian cricket team. Cricket needs a strong Australia, like how it needs a strong windies team. What we have at the moment is two good sides at the top, India and SA, followed by a bunch of really average sides.

  • RJHB on December 3, 2010, 12:47 GMT

    What could be more fun than having to endure cocky Poms proven right about an Aussie mauling? I dunno, having teeth pulled? Enduring a public colonoscopy? Eating a fried turd sandwich? This is all great fun isn't it? NOT!!!!

  • 5wombats on December 3, 2010, 12:40 GMT

    Aussies in disarray. Haven't seen anything like this in Aus since the Packer/South African rebel days. Selectors obviously at each others throats, batsmen out of form - and it's going to get worse for Australia because - as another writer here says; "the cupboard is bare", if Aus bring newbies into the team, into the Hotbed of the Ashes, England will be all over them like a rash. Before the series everyone, myself included thought it would be close. Maybe not. Maybe England are just better than Australia now in all departments, including focus and aggression. I now predict England to win this test. If that happens I can't see Aus getting up in two of the next three tests.

  • Fan84 on December 3, 2010, 12:30 GMT

    @ DINESHCC .. Well said Dinesh,, the resurgence of Ricky will happen from the ASHES.. there will be only TWO STARS ,, one is Ricky , and teh other is SACHIn,, Mr. Clarke,,, you gracefully come out of the team man,, u r not fit to be in the team,, Mr. North,, this is for u as well,, i woudl have brought back Paine in place of Clarke, ,, Mr. TAIT.. Ricky pleadedyou to play in the ASHES,, but u rejected his offer,, nothing comes before the COUNTRY,, play and even die for the counrty,,

  • Fan84 on December 3, 2010, 12:29 GMT

    @ DINESHCC .. Well said Dinesh,, the resurgence of Ricky will happen from the ASHES.. there will be only TWO STARS ,, one is Ricky , and teh other is SACHIn,, Mr. Clarke,,, you gracefully come out of the team man,, u r not fit to be in the team,, Mr. North,, this is for u as well,, i woudl have brought back Paine in place of Clarke, ,, Mr. TAIT.. Ricky pleadedyou to play in the ASHES,, but u rejected his offer,, nothing comes before the COUNTRY,, play and even die for the counrty,,

  • johntycodes on December 3, 2010, 12:11 GMT

    Fair enough australia got bowled out but the difference lately is the slow run rate in every test we play now. It is never above 3 an over now and if we were losing wickets and still scoring at 4.5 an over like we did when we were good then it wouldn't be much of a problem but last match we batted for ever and only made 450 which is a very slow score for the overs we batted.

  • pochard on December 3, 2010, 12:08 GMT

    With the obvious exception of the Katich dismissal, I think the condemnation of the Aussie batsmen is a bit overdone. The pitch favoured the bowlers more than expected and most of the dismissals were the result of good bowling. The way it's going I would expect Harris and Bollinger to be a handful for England's top order.

  • daager on December 3, 2010, 11:45 GMT

    I find the media hilarious. Is this not the same batsman who smashed fifty the other day? How about giving some credit to the bowler? Clarke does seem off form but they both got good outswingers and suddenly according to the author their entire careers are in disarray.

    The same media lauding englands perfect pre-ashes campaign - they then got siddled first day up. This is the great thing about sport - its full of surprises - but I can only laugh when a batsmen of Ricky Pontings calibre gets written off after getting a good delivery first up. Its a terrible trend, especially in football, that managers and media seem incapable of lauding the other side for punishing them, instead blaming their defence, their this, their that. Well done Jimmy Andersen! Thats all you have to say!

  • Chris_Howard on December 3, 2010, 11:43 GMT

    Well that was smart... NOT! Every man and his dog knows our biggest problems of the last 18 months has been our batting. Watson can't turn 50s into 100s, Katich and Ponting aren't any better, Clarke has been struggling of late Hussey was out of form for two years, North is hot and cold, mostly cold. So what do the selectors do? Drop two bowlers. In the First Test the bowlers actually did their bit - it was the catching that let them down. And even when they last dropped a batter, it was to bring in an extra bowler (Watson). And all the time we keep losing Tests. These selectors are like Nero, fiddling while Rome burns; doing nothing about our batting woes, while we keep losing. SACK THE SELECTORS - PLEASE!! They cost us the last Ashes, and they're still there about to cost us another Ashes.

  • Anneeq on December 3, 2010, 11:25 GMT

    I see the modern version of the great West Indies downfall here. Australia are defo in decline, it happens to all the greats, they have their time at the top, then that time ends and they begin to decline. All that said tho all is not not lost here, this is still a decent score by the Aussies, England have to get over 350 to make the Aussies sweat, not easy at all!!

  • WilliamFranklin on December 3, 2010, 11:21 GMT

    It's all gone quiet from those down under that usually comment. How strange.

    Both Ponting and Clarke are class players. At some point their form will return.

  • JerryJose on December 3, 2010, 11:18 GMT

    Where is Shaun Marsh? He seemed to be doing a great job

  • Okakaboka on December 3, 2010, 11:17 GMT

    Yep.....Times up!! Rebuild the team.....this is now a team full of negative waves. Ponting should be dropped to no. 4, drop Clarke, North, Haddin altogether, and make White captain.....as @Sawifan suggests. Harris is a great bowler...but this is short term only...his knee is bone-on-bone so he really only has one campaign left. We don't mind seeing a young team struggling...it is when a team of old farts struggle that makes fans frustrated. Clearly.....and we all keep saying it...the coaching staff and selectors simply have no idea!!! I noticed Nielson mucking around with a laptop today....let me guess...is he trying to find Buchanan's winning formula....um....."Where are you now? Where to you want to go? and How are you going to get there?..." Durrrrrrrrrr. Clarke has lost his right to be the next Captain....If he is not fit, he is not doing the right thing by the team in playing......and if he is fit....he no longer is up to test standard....like 'bunny' 'hang the washing out North!

  • manasvi_lingam on December 3, 2010, 11:17 GMT

    Where are Hughes, Khawaja, Maddison and White? And what about David Hussey, Brad Hodge, etc? It seems to me that Oz still has fairly good batsmen but it doesn't seem to select them. Hughes and Khawaja average over and around 50 respectively. White is a proven leader, good batsman and a useful part-timer. Steven Smith averages in the high 40s and can bowl. David Hussey has one of the highest averages in FC cricket and Brad Hodge is always consistent. Surely players like Clarke and North should be dropped in favour of some of these guys.

  • Rakesh_Jena on December 3, 2010, 11:17 GMT

    Australia are missing Warne and McGrath so dearly..Australia would have still ended up winning this test in THEIR days.Now I doubt whether they can even save this one or not!!!

  • Cam_PT on December 3, 2010, 11:15 GMT

    This is all a bit negative. Where's James Anderson's pat on the back for a great spell of bowling?

  • venbas on December 3, 2010, 11:09 GMT

    Ah...Peter is at it again. Drove Gilchrist, Langer, Martyn to retirement with his pen and now Ponting may go the join the league. Ponting has been in reasonable if not extraordinary form with 5 50+ scores within last 10 innings. But nothing seems to be count for folks like Peter. Go get a life sir...I did hate ponting for the past offences, but still that does not take away his capabilities even at 35. He has lot more steam in him still and hopefully he can turn in on from the next innings itself

  • merindah on December 3, 2010, 11:04 GMT

    Mr English, DO you watch cricket or just write on it? Can you tell me Ponting's scores in the last 6 tests? a man out of form? Just like i was reading at the start of the summer why is husey playing??? Yes we do have a big pro in the team. I think it is to do with attitude did anyone see Shane Waston speak about the inng? he spoke with as smile and a giggle! to me that is not a man that seems too worried about things!!! Imagine Border, Langer, Waugh or any ex player when asked that Q after a terrible 1st day play!! when is the media in Australia going to start reporting on cricket and not just beating the drum or hyping up certain things? Steve Smith he should be the spinner!!haha ask him how often he chucks them down for NSW. (sorry i know that does not relate to this article but wanted it off my chest as well)

  • JerryJose on December 3, 2010, 10:46 GMT

    Where is Shaun Marsh? He seemed to be doing a great job

  • Aussasinator on December 3, 2010, 10:38 GMT

    People should know when to call it a day, before absolute disgrace, and allow a team to rebuild.

  • Dismayed on December 3, 2010, 10:37 GMT

    North must go. S.Smith must come in. Clarke needs a spell C.White must come in. Katich has done well since coming back, but time to go. Bring Jacques or Hughes in. Watson must learn he is part of a team. More pain coming tomorrow.

  • on December 3, 2010, 10:02 GMT

    Seriously, i still think that ponting will deliver some time in this Ashes....but Clarke doesn't seem to be in his groove at the moment. I don't think that time is right to hand over the captaincy to Clarke...anytime in near future...

  • Something_Witty on December 3, 2010, 9:58 GMT

    Oh no!! DOOM!! Fire and brimstone! Watch out for the four horsemen; the end is nigh! Come on. Yes Clarke is out of form at the moment, most probably due to his dodgy back, but there is nothing wrong with Ponting's current form. - Anyone can edge a good ball early on. Honestly, the hysteria about Clarke/Ponting is entirely baseless. Clarke needs to sit out for a couple of matches to get his back fixed up, and Ponting just needs something to go his way.

  • handyandy on December 3, 2010, 9:53 GMT

    It is time for Australia to accept that England is better than us in every department and start wielding the ax.

    Our batting lineup is pathetic.

    Starting from the top ... Watson isn't an opener. He never was. He should bat down the order. Yes he does get runs ... but he doesn't get big runs.

    Ponting is useless at first drop. I would also argue whether he is of any real value as captain.

    Clarke needs to go ... so does North.

    The trouble is finding replacements for these players ... but replacements must be found.

    Australia could do worse than Cameron White as our new captain. Phillip Hughes probably deserves another.

    It annoys me that the selectors have not been more positive in rebuilding to team since our loss to England two years back.

    These are the same batsmen that were found wanting two years ago, and guess what, they still are.

  • vswami on December 3, 2010, 9:49 GMT

    Of course the one-on-one tutorial seems to have made a difference .. Clarke duly following Ponting's advice on getting out !

  • JGuru on December 3, 2010, 9:36 GMT

    Today's batting performance of Aussies is just another indication of the incohesivness in the team setup. Most of them fell for shots that could well have been avoided. From here on, Aussies will only have to play a catch up game and unless there is a turnaround from bowlers (which is unlikely in Adelaide) the result is going to be heavily loaded in favor of visitors. England needed to be credited for walking away on a high. Unlike Brisbane first day it not a juicy track for bowlers to operate but full credit to them for such a formidable performance. With 3 top batsmen getting out before 3rd over things could have looked worser but for Hussey's performance. He played an another innings of solidity and firmness and established his class. Clarke and North are having torried time and if Aussies go on to lose the match they would have contributed immensely to it. England is not only sitting preety but firmly on the driver seat to dictate terms for rest of the play in Adelaide.

  • DINESHCC on December 3, 2010, 9:34 GMT

    When sachin is able to score 10 test centuries and a 200 in ODIs after the age of 35, ponting too perform well. In one innings or other, he will return to form. The real concern for the Australia is Michale Clarke and the middle order especially Marcus North.

  • StarveTheLizard on December 3, 2010, 9:28 GMT

    Poor Ricky, he's got a lot on his mind. He's easy prey, now. Clarke has a bad back. He cannot play to his best. North is not test class. That leaves three batsmen to deliver. You get a run out like Katich got and it's all over. Goodbye first innings. Goodbye Ashes. This is horrible to watch!

  • morethan20-20 on December 3, 2010, 9:22 GMT

    Good article Mr English.....lets not forget the rumoured alternative captain M.North. He obviously has leader written all over him as he bats with the same current success as the skipper and vice. The selectors have got some tough choices and have to face the music soon....a period of regrowth with youth is needed, give them a chance to learn and toughen at the highest level. cheers

  • on December 3, 2010, 9:19 GMT

    Although I have little sympathy with Ponting (having lived and suffered through the years of utter Aussie dominance over England), his continuing displays of petulance not only do him no credit, but must give the England team a psychological boost. Surely he must have worked this out?

  • rssampat on December 3, 2010, 9:17 GMT

    Blimey!! Make Clarke the captain, schedule a tour of Bangladesh at home, yet Australia will find a way to lose the series under Clarke. Clarke as captain; Man, All the Teams must be eagerly smacking their lips in anticipation.

  • sawifan on December 3, 2010, 9:10 GMT

    While Punter's form isn't fantastic, he has past 50 in 4 of his past 7 knocks, including last test's not out. His biggest concern is his deputy. Cameron White must be brought into the team to put some real pressure on Clarke 'heir apparent' status. I think given the right role, White will flourish. He is a better player than North and is a real leader, as shown by his many successes with Victoria. On a side note, he also has more 1st-class wickets at a better average and better strike-rate than both Doherty and Hauritz. Day 1 of Test 2 similar to Day 1 of Test 1, with roles reversed. Here's hoping for a tight 2nd day as well.

  • Sanj747 on December 3, 2010, 9:04 GMT

    A 4-0 loss to England will be what is needed to change this lot. Anyone with vision will see the need to remove Hildtich, Nielsen, Ponting and Clarke. Make Watson the captain and bring in Cameron White as the VC. Sad to see the aussies this way but I guess all this is self inflicted.

  • TEST_CRICKET_ONLY on December 3, 2010, 9:02 GMT

    Clarke captain next year ??? Surely he is doubtful to remain in the side, and he is not the appropriate choice for captain either.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • TEST_CRICKET_ONLY on December 3, 2010, 9:02 GMT

    Clarke captain next year ??? Surely he is doubtful to remain in the side, and he is not the appropriate choice for captain either.

  • Sanj747 on December 3, 2010, 9:04 GMT

    A 4-0 loss to England will be what is needed to change this lot. Anyone with vision will see the need to remove Hildtich, Nielsen, Ponting and Clarke. Make Watson the captain and bring in Cameron White as the VC. Sad to see the aussies this way but I guess all this is self inflicted.

  • sawifan on December 3, 2010, 9:10 GMT

    While Punter's form isn't fantastic, he has past 50 in 4 of his past 7 knocks, including last test's not out. His biggest concern is his deputy. Cameron White must be brought into the team to put some real pressure on Clarke 'heir apparent' status. I think given the right role, White will flourish. He is a better player than North and is a real leader, as shown by his many successes with Victoria. On a side note, he also has more 1st-class wickets at a better average and better strike-rate than both Doherty and Hauritz. Day 1 of Test 2 similar to Day 1 of Test 1, with roles reversed. Here's hoping for a tight 2nd day as well.

  • rssampat on December 3, 2010, 9:17 GMT

    Blimey!! Make Clarke the captain, schedule a tour of Bangladesh at home, yet Australia will find a way to lose the series under Clarke. Clarke as captain; Man, All the Teams must be eagerly smacking their lips in anticipation.

  • on December 3, 2010, 9:19 GMT

    Although I have little sympathy with Ponting (having lived and suffered through the years of utter Aussie dominance over England), his continuing displays of petulance not only do him no credit, but must give the England team a psychological boost. Surely he must have worked this out?

  • morethan20-20 on December 3, 2010, 9:22 GMT

    Good article Mr English.....lets not forget the rumoured alternative captain M.North. He obviously has leader written all over him as he bats with the same current success as the skipper and vice. The selectors have got some tough choices and have to face the music soon....a period of regrowth with youth is needed, give them a chance to learn and toughen at the highest level. cheers

  • StarveTheLizard on December 3, 2010, 9:28 GMT

    Poor Ricky, he's got a lot on his mind. He's easy prey, now. Clarke has a bad back. He cannot play to his best. North is not test class. That leaves three batsmen to deliver. You get a run out like Katich got and it's all over. Goodbye first innings. Goodbye Ashes. This is horrible to watch!

  • DINESHCC on December 3, 2010, 9:34 GMT

    When sachin is able to score 10 test centuries and a 200 in ODIs after the age of 35, ponting too perform well. In one innings or other, he will return to form. The real concern for the Australia is Michale Clarke and the middle order especially Marcus North.

  • JGuru on December 3, 2010, 9:36 GMT

    Today's batting performance of Aussies is just another indication of the incohesivness in the team setup. Most of them fell for shots that could well have been avoided. From here on, Aussies will only have to play a catch up game and unless there is a turnaround from bowlers (which is unlikely in Adelaide) the result is going to be heavily loaded in favor of visitors. England needed to be credited for walking away on a high. Unlike Brisbane first day it not a juicy track for bowlers to operate but full credit to them for such a formidable performance. With 3 top batsmen getting out before 3rd over things could have looked worser but for Hussey's performance. He played an another innings of solidity and firmness and established his class. Clarke and North are having torried time and if Aussies go on to lose the match they would have contributed immensely to it. England is not only sitting preety but firmly on the driver seat to dictate terms for rest of the play in Adelaide.

  • vswami on December 3, 2010, 9:49 GMT

    Of course the one-on-one tutorial seems to have made a difference .. Clarke duly following Ponting's advice on getting out !