Ponting attacks CA's BBL hype
Ricky Ponting has dealt out heavy criticism of Cricket Australia for rolling out reams of Big Bash League hype in the hours after the Test team's 347-run humiliation at Lord's.
A flurry of press releases trumpeting the BBL's success and the signings of players landed in email inboxes around the world as England's players were celebrating their 2-0 series lead, while a slightly sheepish-looking Michael Hussey emerged from a helicopter at Sydney's Olympic Stadium to promote his signing for the Thunder after choosing to retire ahead of the India and Ashes tours.
Ponting, who alongside Adam Gilchrist has signed with Network Ten as a BBL commentator and will be used heavily as a selling point for the competition's move to free-to-air television, was nonetheless "flabbergasted" to see so much CA airspace devoted to Twenty20 at the same moment the Test team's state of severe disrepair was laid bare for all to see.
"I was flabbergasted when Cricket Australia put out a statement on Sunday night promoting the success of the Big Bash Twenty20 league because the timing, coming so soon after that heavy defeat at Lord's, was not ideal," Ponting wrote in the Daily Mail. "Cricket Australia is a business and they have invested a lot of time in the Big Bash while cuts have been made in first-class cricket. I can see what they were trying to do with that statement but we must remember that the strength of this business will be measured by the success of the national team."
Having viewed the Lord's match closely, Ponting also argued that shuffling of the batting order from one Test to another had contributed to the dire first innings 128 that essentially sealed Australia's fate. Ponting called on his successor Michael Clarke to stick to a position, noting that his move from No. 4 at Trent Bridge to No. 5 at Lord's had forced Phillip Hughes to move out of a position at No. 6 he had just gained confidence in by making 81 in the first Test.
"One thing Australia must have is stability, particularly in their batting order," Ponting wrote. "Clarke was back at five having been at four at Trent Bridge, which led to other players like Phil Hughes being moved too, and I believe that your best player should be at three or four, particularly in an inexperienced line-up. There have been nine different players, I think, at three since I stopped batting there and Australia need to make their minds up over who should bat there and in the other positions and stick with them.
"I moved Michael to four a few years ago because I thought it would be for the betterment of him and the team when it became clear he was becoming our best player, but if he feels that it is best to be at five, that's where he needs to bat."
Amid all manner of hand wringing over the Test team's poor results, now stretching to six consecutive Test match defeats, Ponting said it would be unwise to resort to short-term solutions, like the recall of the prolific Simon Katich.
"Let's get one thing clear. Australia cannot flick a switch and suddenly everything will be all right. We are not going to have a big group of young promising players all coming through to make things better," Ponting said. "There are no better players outside this group who could come to the rescue but that doesn't mean there isn't a lot of talent in this Australia team. It is just that many of them have to find their feet in the biggest series of them all.
"There has been talk about a call-up for somebody like Simon Katich, who is going very well at Lancashire, but there is no point in looking back. This sort of thing used to come up with Shane Warne when Australia were trying to replace him and it would not solve anything to look at stop-gap measures. The selectors have picked these players as the best we have, and it was only a week ago after Trent Bridge we were saying how close things are."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here