Australia v England, 4th Test, Melbourne, 4th day December 29, 2010

Ponting considers a move down the order


Ricky Ponting was asked before the Ashes series started to consider moving from No.3, but only in the past fortnight has he considered shifting from his home of nine years. Greg Chappell, the new Australia selector, raised the possibility of Ponting dropping to No.4 for the opening Test and after rejecting the idea he has managed just 113 runs in eight innings.

His failures were a key factor in England retaining the urn, with the tourists' innings-and-157-run victory at the MCG earning a 2-1 lead. Ponting, 36, has now loosened his strict stance on staying at first-drop.

"I guess there's been a few doubts creep into my mind the last couple of weeks," Ponting said. "I'm not going to hide that. I think I definitely have to re-evaluate where I'm at as far as a Test batsman is concerned."

The idea was first discussed after Ponting returned from India and New South Wales' Usman Khawaja was in impressive form, but since then the country's next generation of top-order batsmen have struggled to gain consistency. When asked by ESPNcricinfo about Chappell's suggestion Ponting said: "[Chappell] mentioned something briefly about the possibility of me batting No.4 for the Brisbane Test match, with someone else coming into the squad to bat at three. That's about as far as the conversation went, we had probably two minutes talking."

Ponting's stubbornness is both a strength and a weakness and in hindsight a move to safer ground was just what he needed. England have targeted him successfully, taking Australia's only world-class player out of the contest with a mixture of perfect planning, excellent catching and some luck.

Australia will name their squad for the Sydney Test on Thursday and if Ponting is open to an immediate shift Khawaja is the most likely contender for his spot. Ponting said if the selectors wanted to make a change the new man had to be ready for the extra responsibility.

"It's not an easy place to bat, we all know that," he said. "It's something I think [the selectors will] be talking long and hard about this afternoon and for any selections going forward."

Ponting has been impressed by Khawaja, who was on standby for him in this match and was part of the squad in Brisbane. "I've been very impressed with what he's been able to do," he said. "His first-class record is very, very good. Technically, he looks as good as any of the young blokes we've got around Australia, probably better. You need to have that really solid technique if you want to stand up at No.3 at Test level."

A broken left pinky suffered in the field in Perth has also hampered Ponting, who had more x-rays in Melbourne this morning before returning to watch the final stages of the defeat. He was planning to see a specialist in the afternoon and thinks he will be able to play in Sydney.

"[The doctor] has to go through the x-rays with me and he needs to look at the finger and see what movement and mobility I've got around the joint," he said. "The next part of the plan will be to consult our medical staff overnight and find out what I'm going to be like for Sydney."

Ponting was promoted full-time to No.3 in 2001 and it was from that position that he became one of the game's true batting greats. He has 9719 runs at 58.19 in 108 Tests at first-drop, but his powers have waned noticeably in this series with his increasingly fidgety and jumpy movements. He fell for 10 and 20 at the MCG and his only significant contribution of the series came with an unbeaten half-century when the opening Test was winding down.

He isn't sure why he is having so many problems after getting himself into his best physical shape for almost a decade. "I wish I knew," he said. "I feel like I have been well prepared for every game. I have trained the same for every game.

"I am more disappointed that I came off what I thought was a pretty good series in India [in October]. I actually thought that after a few leaner months before that series in India I was starting to get things on track again, feeling good about my game."

He is now hoping, rather than expecting, that his fortune will change.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on December 30, 2010, 10:56 GMT

    When Greg Chapppel was the coach of India he created all the troubles.India was becoming the no 1 team after 2003 and without any reason he pushed Ganguly, who was instrumental in shaping a great Indian team,out.Chappel's comment after India's debacle in 2007 World cup was that many of Indian players including Tendulkar were not committed.Thank God that Tendulkar broke his silence and made a public announcement and Indian Cricket was saved.Ponting and Company should do the same .

  • Dummy4 on December 30, 2010, 9:46 GMT

    we all know ricky ponting is a class player ...its undoubtful and the truth..due to mental pressures he might not performing well.greg chapell the fucking person who created problems in our indian team lets wish ricky and blast chapell

  • A on December 30, 2010, 6:55 GMT

    If one were to read the comments that have appeared on this article, one thing is amply clear-----that it is Greg Chappell, not Ricky Ponting, who should be shown the door. Ponting cannot be brought down just after one poor series, he has been one of the game's greats for a very long time. The comment writers have hit the nail on the head--------Chappell creates insecurity among players, he is so good at it. And the world knows it, and yet he gets these assignments, amazing. The second thing which is not yet amply clear is Ian Chappell's growing list of mistakes as an analyst. He said India as a team are not capable of 20 wickets on more than one occasion---wonder how then a team can reach No. 1 without taking 20 wickets? He is now tipping England to be number 1, but England, frankly have a long way to go. He has erred in several other areas in his assessment, and it is time to realize that the elder Chappell is getting away with some very poor analysis. Where is Trevor?

  • Mahin on December 30, 2010, 6:54 GMT

    Good Luck Usman Khwaja.......

    Everyone is expecting u to perform lot..... All the best.... Keep rock, place more records as u did for NSW....

  • Shakir on December 30, 2010, 6:50 GMT

    Now that Chappal is there for Australia, and more aptly after Ricky, we will not have to worry about Australia in World cup. Chappal has a history to unsettle the team. And he starts in style, by sacking the captain first. I love punter, but feel sorry for him.

  • p on December 30, 2010, 6:23 GMT

    Here's Pontings record ….From debut to 2003 : 99 inn. 4195 @ 49.4 ,.… From 2003-07: 80 inn.4993@74.5….. From 2007 -date : 77 inn. 3040 @ 41.1 ……. Ponting was a great batsman for 5 out of his 16 years . Period. His overall record makes him appear better than he really was.

  • Suresh on December 30, 2010, 5:52 GMT

    Chappell(Greg) your under-arm's been 29 yrs...still it stinks...leave Ausies will smell good without made it stink in India while you showed your "Middle" finger to the press from the still STINKS....

  • Rob on December 30, 2010, 5:45 GMT

    Time Australian selectors got back to being ruthless. If I was running the show I'd make clean sweep of the side. This is the side I'd have for Sydney test, Mark Cosgrove, Shane Watson, Usman Khawaja, Michael Hussey, (vc)Cameron White, Andrew McDonald( if fit), (C)Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Hauritz, Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, 12th Steven Smith. What do think?

  • Ant on December 30, 2010, 5:37 GMT

    it doesn't matter much if he bats at 3 or 4, he's still going to be under a lot of pressure if the other batsman aren't pulling their weight

  • Arun on December 30, 2010, 4:43 GMT

    It's funny how a lot of comments here are from Indian fans showing support for the Aussie captain. That's how bad Chappell kicked Indian cricket in the gut. Is it a coincidence that Chappell's always around bad situations?. He messed up big as the coach of India and now as selector his suggestion that Ponting should move down the order seems knee-jerk.CA should kick Chappell out for he'll run their cricket to the ground.

    Sachin, Dravid and Lara have all gone through lean trots and it seemed as if their careers would end but they all had second or third winds and carried on. Sure, Ponting is going thru a horrible phase right now but it's magnified due to his team's failure in the Ashes. Let's face it, you wont set the worl alight with a bowling lineup that reads Ben Hilfenhaus, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle and Ryan Harris. This is a good reminder to spoilt Aussies that winning is not a birthright. You need the right ingredients to make it happen.

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