Australia in West Indies 2012 April 22, 2012

Ponting secure for home summer - Clarke


Michael Clarke, Australia's captain, has all but guaranteed Ricky Ponting his place in the team's next Test assignment, at home against South Africa in November. Ponting has looked in good touch in the Caribbean despite not making many runs and Clarke, who is also a selector, indicated Ponting's place would be safe for the first Test of the home summer, more than six months away.

Having staved off a run of slim scores in Sri Lanka and South Africa before enjoying a storming series at home against India, Ponting joined the majority of his fellow batsmen in struggling to make a major score in the West Indies. Only one century was made in two Tests, by Shivnarine Chanderpaul in Barbados, and Clarke said Ponting was arguably the man most likely to make one should the Dominica pitch offer a little more encouragement to stroke play.

"He's hitting the ball well, probably hasn't got that big score that he'd like but none of us have. Conditions haven't been great for making big hundreds," Clarke said of Ponting. "If you wanted to make runs here you had to bat for a hell of a long time, and need a bit of luck as well along the way. Ricky's one of the guys that has put the team above himself and sacrificed his wicket or tried to take the game forward because we've needed to, to try and help us win the game.

"If he continues to play the way he's played throughout the last 12 months, he had a wonderful summer, then I see no reason he won't be in the team come the first Test against South Africa. There's a lot of cricket to be played from now until then. Ricky's not currently in our one-day squad but we also have some first-class cricket leading up to that first Test so I'm confident Ricky's batting well and he's not far away from a big score. If we get a decent wicket here I wouldn't be surprised if he finished the summer on a very high note."

For his part, Ponting has no thoughts of the finish line, proving it by staying on at Windsor Park for throw-downs from the assistant coach Justin Langer after the rest of the squad had returned to the hotel. "Not yet no, one more game here," he said when asked about retirement thoughts. "We'll wait and see how many I get this week, if I get 200 this week you probably won't be asking me that question."

Seven months and 13 Tests since he led Australia onto the field in Sri Lanka, Clarke called for one final push from his men to ensure the series against West Indies was won. He also pointed to the fact that so many of his men will be going direct from the Caribbean to the IPL as a reminder that fatigue should not be a problem as they play at Roseau's Windsor Park for the first time.

For the first time, Clarke will be joining them, having signed with Sourav Ganguly's Pune. The IPL will reduce the break available for those playing both Test and limited-overs cricket, before the Australians start travelling again on a 20-month odyssey that will take them to England and India twice each, either side of home Tests against South Africa and Sri Lanka, and rounded off by a home Ashes series in 2013-14.

"I think the closer you get to the finish line the more excited you actually get. We know we've got no Test cricket now until the Australian summer after this last Test," Clarke said. "I'm pretty sure all the boys will want to make this Test a good one for themselves personally and for the team because we've had a really good summer, we want to finish on a high before we get stuck into one-day cricket and the Twenty20 World Cup before Test cricket comes around.

"And guys can't be too fatigued. 95% of the blokes are going to the IPL, so we have no excuse not to come out and play our best cricket once again in this Test match and finish what has been a very good summer of Test cricket on a high.
I think we've done really well in these conditions. We've pushed hard to get results, it could have quite easily been two draws but I think our attitude has helped us win the first Test and we thought we're going to win the second Test.

"A lot of the guys hadn't seen the West Indies conditions as well so it's been a good eye opener for the guys who haven't played Test cricket over here. Your No. 1 goal is to win every series you play, there's no doubt about that, that's what we plan to do in this third Test. In saying that we're trying to win every Test as well."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Chris on April 25, 2012, 7:54 GMT

    Hussey should be the only old guy in the team, Ponting should go, as should Cowan who is averaging less than Pattinson after a similar amount of games. That is pretty embarassing. HawK89 - The stats prove you wrong. Haddin has just 3 centuries from 43 tests and all of those came in scores of 400+. Wade just scored his first century in just his 3rd test where no-one else performed and he saved the innings, exactly what you want in a keeper-batsman. I'd love for Ponting to go, but there's no batsmen in shield really knocking at the door. If anything, I'd have Nevill in there as a specialist batsman.

  • Roo on April 24, 2012, 16:40 GMT

    @LesGrossman... Agree on Bailey, he is much more than just a batsman, his captaincy skills are probably the best in SS bringing an average team to the top of Shield & OD'ers over the last few years... Compare the players in NSW, Vic, Qld, WA with Tassie & they have out performed their much more fanciful opposition across both formats...

  • Dummy4 on April 24, 2012, 11:56 GMT

    @Stuart Smith you are joking. You want hussey to go.He has been the most consistent Oz batsman since hayden , langer,gilchrist left.Regarding Ponting well he was a terrific batsman.One of the best in the world.But his days are over.

  • Dummy4 on April 24, 2012, 10:03 GMT

    If Ricky knew what was good for him, he would've retired at the end of the India series.

  • Geoffrey on April 24, 2012, 9:08 GMT

    @Keepa-batsman wow and they used to accuse England of living in the past..

  • ryan on April 24, 2012, 6:55 GMT

    to all england supporters getting all excited about winning the last 2 ashes series and going on to win the 3rd, i think you shouldn't forget the small matter of 18 years between ashes series wins. ouch.

  • Basil on April 24, 2012, 6:40 GMT

    Might want to score some runs first....

  • Jeremy on April 24, 2012, 1:21 GMT

    There is a reason why ponting is keeping his spot, because the new guys that i've seen in the T20/ODI squad are pretty overrated. They get a 1 off score and get hyped up for a test spot. Techniques are average, runs going down to third many off edges and defense of a part time all-rounder. The best out of all the new guys is P.Forest. Wade is a disappointment, at least haddin looks like a batsmen that would get a decent score.

  • Andrew on April 24, 2012, 0:15 GMT

    @AdamB - another factor that makes comparisons between bowling line ups, along the lines of the minor counties, is that there can be a big discrepancy between the bottom placed sides in Div 2 & a poor performing Shield side. Another factor is that the County game tends to see more bowlers used during an innings than in a Shield match which is not as representitive of a test scenario. I'd estimate on the list you provided, that Oz bowlers in FC matches alone would bowl 20% more deliveries per match than in the County game. This means that on batting strips they have to work harder.

  • Andrew on April 23, 2012, 23:33 GMT

    @AdamB - I won't argue with your attempt to provide a relatively neutral attempt at comparison. I will say though that, George & Bollinger are unlikely to wear the Baggy Green again & MJ has a big ? over his head. I would say that atm Cutting, Coulter-Nile & Bird are more likely candidates. Also, I might add that whilst the Test players for England would not line up often against minor counties & uni sides, the lesser players do & combined with early season conditions, FC stats in England can be skewed (slightly). Oz journeyman Magoffin took a 6 or 7 wicket haul in County cricket the other day & allrounder Henriques has been claiming plenty of wickets & they are well down on our pecking order.

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