December 30, 2010

Has Ponting played his last Test?


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

2010 has been a nightmarish year for Ricky Ponting and the end could not have been more traumatic. For all practical purposes he seems to have played his last Test match. It will be a miracle if he stages a comeback.

The Australians are not due to play their next series, following the Ashes, until August and there’s very little hope, if any, of the selectors persisting with him either as captain or even as an ordinary member of the side.

In many ways his injury has made the task easier for the Australian selectors who could have even gone on to the extent of dropping Ponting for the fifth and final Test against England in Sydney starting on January 2.

There’s a probability that Ponting might opt to call it a day after the conclusion of the Ashes. I think that it will make sense for him to announce his retirement instead of waiting to be axed.

He has had a distinguished career and indeed it will be a pity if he’s dropped from the side he led with distinction for so long. He cannot lose sight of the fact, however, that everyone has to quit one day.

He cannot be held entirely responsible for the dip in the fortune of his team during the past six months or so but his own batting form has deserted him that should be enough to convince his mind to hang his boot after a very long outing in the international arena.

Ponting has not been able to recover from the mistake he made of batting first after winning the toss in the second Test against Pakistan earlier this year in England. Whether it was over-confidence or a tactical blunder it has cost him his career I reckon.

He has been let down by his teammates, particularly his premier performers, who have had an extended lean patch. Take the example of Mitchell Johnson and Michael Clarke who have been struggling to regain their top form.

Ponting had to play far too well himself to cover up the follies of his colleagues. Unfortunately runs dried from his own blade and it was asking for too much from the ordinary mortals like Simon Katich and Shane Watson to carry the team on their shoulders.

Australia still have quite a few outstanding cricketers, both young and experienced, but they cannot be compared with the likes of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Mattew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist all of whom retired during Ponting’s tenure as captain.
The record of Ponting of being the most successful Australian captain of all time, with 48 victories in 77 Tests, is likely to stand for a very long period. It’s hard to imagine anybody coming close to this mark.

Ponting has been a part of the Australian team in 99 Test victories which is another record unlikely to be bettered in future. He would have dearly liked to complete the century but its chances look negligible now.


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