Australia v England, 3rd Test, Perth December 15, 2010

Captaincy decision not in my hands - Ponting


The next five days could determine Ricky Ponting's future but the decision over whether he stays as captain is ultimately out of his hands. Australia have to prevent England from winning the third Test in Perth to retain any hope of regaining the Ashes and save Ponting from becoming Australia's first three-time loser of the urn in 120 years.

At a time of so many "what ifs" for the hosts, Ponting is trying not to peer towards the horizon, but that is impossible in his team's current state. He is realistic enough to know that his future could be decided as soon as the end of this match.

"Probably not a decision for me to make," Ponting said when asked if he would still be captain if Australia lost the Ashes. "I don't pick myself as captain so, look, in all honestly, I haven't thought about that at all.

"The decision's completely out of my hands. At the end of the day, I'll do my best to make sure we're on a winning end this week and I'll do my best as a player to make sure I score runs and lead the team the best way possible. Then the powers that be will make those decisions I guess at the end of the series, or after this Test match."

If Ponting was in peak batting form the questions over his future would hold less substance, but he has struggled to 70 runs in this series and has not had an impact on the campaign. Ponting is both the game's most successful captain, with 47 wins in 75 matches, and the ruler of a unit that has lost most of its powers with the departure of key personnel over the past four years.

Three new faces have come into the squad for this game and Ponting is in a situation where he can't trust his bowling attack or rely on his batsmen for big runs. He remains the only great player in Australia's side, but he will be 36 on Monday and is in a battle to hang on.

There have been no hundreds in his last eight Tests and he will walk out at the WACA with the memories of receiving a tenderised left elbow from a Kemar Roach short ball in the game here last year. That bruise forced his first retired hurt and he has been struggling for sustained form and fluency ever since.

After the innings defeat in Adelaide, Ponting had five days off and tried not to think about the series. Compartmentalisation is a key attribute for any leader, but there would be no way Ponting could have escaped from all the disruptions and criticism of himself and his team. He remains relaxed in public but is a man under extreme pressure.

"I know a lot of our success revolves around how well our batting does at the top of the order and my input in the series so far hasn't been what it's needed to be for us to win games," he said. "So purely and simply I need to stand up, I need to score runs and we need to play better cricket than we have in the last two Test matches."

Australia last lost a home Ashes series in the depressing summer of 1986-87 and this campaign is already evoking similar feelings among the home supporters. The bowlers have taken only 16 wickets in the opening two matches and England's batsmen have dominated in gaining a 1-0 series advantage. One thing in Australia's favour is that the green WACA pitch is looking like providing a result.

"Obviously that has to be a positive one for us or it's game, set and match," he said. "We are priming ourselves to play our best game so far in the series and we know we have to do it by a long way if we want to win the game."

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • JustOUT on December 16, 2010, 10:08 GMT

    Ricky, it will be very sad if you retire after losing the Ashes at home turf. The batsman of your calibre should retire on high. But its fate that your bad days both as captain and batsman affecting you alot. All the best.

  • Dummy4 on December 16, 2010, 7:00 GMT

    Dear Ricky, You are the main reason for Australian decline in test cricket. You have lost the edge in captaincy, you lack the clear thinking for field placements and bowling changes. Your batting has declined and it has contributed to team pressure and that has caused erosion in team's moral and general decline in team's composure and performance. Tosy Australian

  • Dummy4 on December 16, 2010, 6:29 GMT

    to be a good captain u should be like a king who's never sacred like waugh n pollard (who r mentally very strong n fight to death n never scared). ricky is good captain too. replacing ricky with clarke is just foolish. clarke has no great quality to become a captain. infact he's exactly opposite to a fighter. i've seen him scared to death in many situations on field. u can see it in his face. he's just jovial n good person. captaincy to him is foolish. mike hussey is a good fighter, if not great. at present ricky is the only 1 capable. even waugh cannot win any match if he captains NZ or banglad. the problem is in the selection process as waugh stated.

  • Venkatesh on December 16, 2010, 6:24 GMT

    Everyone saying that ponting without the great players is a poor captain should check the facts. With this team, ponting had won the champions league - the second largest tournament after the world cup. With an even younger team he beat India 4-2. And he has won the test series in south africa which the current No. 1 has never done... Just because the first two tests went badly, doesnt mean ponting is a poor captain or that Australia are finished... They are still alive and kicking........

  • Alex on December 16, 2010, 5:43 GMT

    Aussie's problem directly due to Greg Chappell.. his method of chop chop chop anything. He changes his mind in selection too soon. He wants immediate result. Life is slow in that way.

    He is the da main reason for aussie's bad selection this year ASHES.

  • Dummy4 on December 16, 2010, 5:40 GMT

    Interesting call... think abt retirement....

  • Kinjan on December 16, 2010, 5:26 GMT

    Ponting was never a great captain nor a great player. Proof of this is when he had great players around him in his team, he hardly had to do any work. He had full backup of good batsmen like hayden, gilChrist and good bowlers like glen mcgrath. He was never put under pressure as his teammates were taking care of that. And under NO pressure, he used to score runs freely. Now that those good ol players are gone, ponting is mostly put under pressure. He hardly scores now and it shows that he was never a great batsman, its just players who were around him made him famous.

  • Peter on December 16, 2010, 5:26 GMT

    Yes. Aussies were dominating cricketing world because of the quality of talent they had. And the aussies should understand it will take time to get even closer to that sort of dominance. Changing captain is certainly not going to do magic overnight... especially when they are in between of a series. And one thing aussie management didn't try in the series is change of roles. Hussey to me is their best batsman at the moment and he should be coming at 4th for sure. Clarke is not upto his fullest and if performance is the criteria to drop someone, he should be the first. Watson is certainly playing better than others, but he should be in the side as bowling allrounder and not as opener. Aussies need 2 very strong batsmen at their top. If Clarke has to stay in the side, he should be given a chance to open, along with maybe Katich or Shaun Marsh. Then follows Ponting, Hussey, White, Watson, Haddin, Smith, Johnson, Siddle and Hilfenhaus. That would add some competition for captaincy as well.

  • A on December 16, 2010, 5:01 GMT

    @kjsbond1: If Ponting announces his retirement at the end of the world cup - and IF austraila wins the WC, then he would have won three - this is what i had meant. @akkilim - you are spot on about ponting and he is paying the price of his arrogance and deeds

  • Mohan on December 16, 2010, 4:34 GMT

    It is absurd to call for Ponting's head. Media is building up pressure on this great batsman - looks like if he bats well he'll be hailed as a great captain. Common irony this - temporary loss of form leads to all-round misery.

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