The former Australia captain Ian Chappell has called on Ricky Ponting to resign from the Test captaincy in the wake of England's Ashes-sealing victory in the fourth Test at Melbourne, and has warned that if he does not take the decision himself, he could run the risk of being pushed out of the door by the selectors. Australia's next Test campaign after the Ashes is the tour of Sri Lanka in August.
Ponting admitted in the wake of England's innings-and-157-run victory at the MCG that he "does not have much of a case" to present to the selectors, having presided over his third unsuccessful Ashes campaign, the most by any Australian captain since Billy Murdoch in the late-1800s. In the course of the series his batting form has collapsed, with a tally of 113 runs in eight innings, leading Chappell to suggest that he has passed his "use-by date".
"I've said all along that this should be the end of his Test captaincy reign," Chappell told ESPNcricinfo. "I think he should be given the opportunity to defend the World Cup as a captain, but I just hope he makes the decision himself. I'd hate to see Ricky Ponting get pushed, I'd rather see him jump than be pushed. So, I hope he makes the decision and preferably he makes it himself, but if he doesn't I hope that Cricket Australia suggest to him that it might be better if you went of your own volition, rather than us having to push you."
Ponting remains the most successful Australian captain of all time, with 48 victories in 77 Tests since 2004, while as a player he has taken part in 99 victories, the most by anyone in history. However, since the lost of Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne at the end of the 2006-07 Ashes, closely followed by other key team-mates such as Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist, his record has faltered, with the Melbourne defeat being Australia's fifth in their last seven Tests.
"I think he has been terrific, and he has probably delayed this day," said Chappell. "This day was almost inevitable when you lose the standard of player that they lost three and four years ago. If you're being realistic, there was going to be a lot of doom and gloom around the corner.
"I think that has been delayed because of the form of Ricky Ponting, and the strength of Ricky Ponting as a captain," Chappell added. "But there comes a time for all captains, there's a use-by date, and when it's time to move on, it's about new players and a new captain. Sadly it's come on the end of a loss, but that's the way things work in sport."