Ponting's captaincy could face its Waterloo at Ahmedabad
Captain Ricky Ponting is the likely casualty if co-hosts India end Australia’s 12-year World Cup dominance in their Ahmedabad quarterfinal on Thursday.
Former players and pundits have been urging the stubborn Tasmanian to step down since the Test side’s Ashes defeat to England on home soil in January. There were further calls for his resignation after the Australians lost to Pakistan in the World Cup group stages last Saturday.
All-rounder Brendon Julian, who played 25 one-day matches for Australia, said on Wednesday that Ponting should quit the one-day game but remain as Test captain.
“He owes nothing more to one-day cricket ... I think it’s an ideal time for him to step out of one-day cricket,” Julian told Fox Sports.
“I don’t think he really needs to step down and keep playing for Australia [in one-day internationals].
“I think there are good enough players out there now that can step into that spot and do it quite well.”
Pressure takes its toll
Julian’s comments follow calls from former captain Ian Chappell, batsman Doug Walters and fast bowler Geoff Lawson for Ponting to fall on his sword.
Rarely a study in tranquility at the best of times, the pressure has appeared to tell on Ponting, who was dismissed cheaply during the loss to Pakistan which ended Australia’s record 34-match unbeaten streak.
The 36-year-old has struggled for runs and was also rapped by the International Cricket Council for damaging a television in the team’s dressing room after he was run out during their victory over Zimbabwe.
He then lost his temper after a collision with all-rounder Steve Smith when taking a catch during the win over Canada last week, glaring at his teammate before slamming the ball into the turf in anger.
Ponting has managed a highest score of only 36 in five innings at the tournament and has gone the last 17 ODI innings without a century. His last half-century came in June.
A loss to India would represent the first time that Australia have failed to make a World Cup final since 1992 and would place pressure on Cricket Australia to make quick changes at the top.
The governing body ordered a review into the team’s performance following the Ashes defeat, with former captains Allan Border, Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh commissioned to find ways to make Australia more competitive.
Further pressure on Ponting has come from Michael Clarke’s form as the one-day captain. The 29-year-old batsman led Australia to a 6-1 series defeat over England prior to the World Cup.
Clarke, the heir apparent, has consistently deferred to his more senior colleague as Australia’s preferred skipper but the selectors may be keen to ease the vice-captain into the role for three scheduled ODI matches against Bangladesh next month.
Amid daily media reports speculating over when the axe will fall, Ponting has remained typically defiant, telling reporters in Ahmedabad on Wednesday that he intended to remain in both the one-day and test sides for as long he could.
“I don’t see the finish line ... I want to keep playing both forms of the game as long as I think I can contribute,” he told Australian media.
“For some reason these retirement things keep popping up all the time. You probably shouldn’t always believe everything you read in the newspaper.”
Former wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist has joined Ponting’s team mates in voicing support for the embattled captain, saying he had “earned the right” to discuss his future with Cricket Australia after the tournament.
Cricket Australia would not comment on Ponting’s playing future on Wednesday. A spokesperson said the board was not due to meet until May and that it was “business as usual” with the team during the performance review. - Reuters