Ponting wants 'whole structure' reviewed
Ricky Ponting believes the standard of domestic cricket in Australia has slumped and the entire structure of Australian cricket needs to be reassessed after the Ashes defeat to England. Cricket Australia will review what went wrong after the hosts lost three of the five Ashes Tests by an innings, and Ponting expects the process to be rigorous in order to ensure the mistakes of the past few years are not repeated.
"There is a review after every season, of which I'm always a big part," Ponting wrote in his column in the Australian. "I understand there will be a lot more involved in the review this time around and rightly so. It's going to be a lot more in-depth than I've ever been involved in and probably as big as those conducted when Australia was really struggling in the mid-80s. There are a lot of things that need looking at and I fully support such a review.
"The performance of the elite team over the past few weeks has been very disappointing. But I think it's important we look a fair bit deeper into Australian cricket than just the last couple of weeks. It's going to be really interesting to see what the review brings up. I think the whole structure of Australian cricket needs looking at. We've got to look at our state cricket. I'm not sure that is as strong as we need it to be. We've got to look at the reasons why.
"We've got to look further back to club cricket and junior cricket to find out what has caused us to end up in this position. There are a lot of things we can look at, but right at the moment it appears as though we're not producing enough high quality Test cricketers."
Cricket Australia's chief executive, James Sutherland, said on ABC radio that it was important that the review was objective, so it might involve people outside Australian cricket. Sutherland said the review would not be limited to the players and team management, but would also look at the wider issues that have led Australia to their current position.
"I don't think we can be so naive as to look internally at the performance of the players and the coaching staff and the selectors," Sutherland said. "I think we need to be mindful of the whole high-performance pathway and everything in and around elite cricket. It's not just a review that would be limited to Cricket Australia. The six state associations and those who play critical roles in developing out talent will I guess come under the microscope as well."
Australia have not won a series in any format since they visited New Zealand in March, and since that tour Ponting has averaged 29 with a highest score of 77. His vice-captain Michael Clarke has also struggled during the same period, averaging 21.58 with a best of 80, and the lack of runs from the two leaders in the batting line-up was a major factor in the Ashes flop.
"I certainly expect my performances as captain and batsman to be heavily scrutinised," Ponting said. "You've got to expect that after the disappointing series I've had. The captain, vice-captain, coaching staff and selectors, we're all in this together and we have to find a way out of it together. Michael and I both understood going into this series that if we didn't contribute heavily with the bat that there would be a lot of questions asked about us as players and leaders and that's the way it has turned out."
Ponting is keen to play on, but must wait until August for Australia's next Test series, when they are set to visit Sri Lanka, to see if the selectors still want him in the mix. The poise shown by Usman Khawaja at No. 3 when Ponting was injured for the Sydney Test was one positive to come out of the series, but it also adds to the uncertainty over Ponting's future.
"I want to keep playing," Ponting said. "I still believe I am one of the best six batters in Australia but I know that ultimately my future as a batsman and captain is in the hands of the selectors and the Cricket Australia board.
"I was very impressed with the debut of Usman Khawaja in difficult circumstances during the Sydney Test but then I have been very impressed with him from the first time I saw him two years ago. What impact that has on where I bat in future I have no idea. I have plenty of time to think about it given we don't play Tests again until a tour of Sri Lanka in August."