Time for Ponting to concede to the Little Master
Ricky Ponting axed from ODIs, but the door isn't closed, and Ponting isn't going anywhere just yet (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
I feel un-Australian saying this, but may be it’s time for Ricky Ponting to concede that Sachin Tendulkar is the best batsman ever not named Sir Donald Bradman and thus finally giving up his quest to outlast and out score the little master.
Although he is just a little over 2000 runs behind, the rivalry has become virtually a non-contest in recent years. It is time for Ponting to reconsider his somewhat irrational chase to match Sachin’s greatness.
It is okay to be number two among the living greats, as much as Australians love one of our own, we recognise and respect great player when we see one and what Tendulkar has done throughout his career has been remarkable, even up until now.
Ponting was struggling during his last outing at the Caribbean islands, scoring 25 runs from three innings before salvaging his batting average by scoring a half century. It is no longer a question of whether he can become the Ricky Ponting the devastating batsman again but whether it’s time to step down finally and let the others have a go at his job.
In all fairness, Ponting hasn’t been preventing his successors from coming through so much as these candidates haven’t done enough themselves to generate support for them to be on the Test side.
Shaun Marsh, Usman Khawaja and Callum Ferguson were once regarded as viable options to take over once Ponting decides to call it a day, but they have since show flaws in their games and haven’t performed when they were given the chance.
They have not done enough with their respective state teams this season to even start a debate, making it easy for selectors to reasonably overlook them, opting for the less risky selection by retaining Ponting, and rightfully so.
However with the Ashes series coming back, may be now is a time for a change. It pains me to say it, but the Poms have substantially better players and even if Australia fields the best team available, it will have to take a team-wide choking by the Poms for Australia to win.
Again, I feel un-Australian saying this, but may be we should adopt the alternative to the win now approach by giving these younger batsmen experiences that hopefully may develop them into solid players. Maybe they have earned the privilege, but that we desperately need a strong middle order for the future.
Another less radical option is to move Watson down the order, which would ease the workload the injury-prone alrounder carries as both a strike bowler and an opening batsman.
Australia does have more than a couple of competent openers that can at least justify their places on the test side, if the selectors adopts this approach, it will no doubt provide an upgrade to the batting line-up while extending Watson’s career.
As Australian cricket fans painfully find out, Ricky Ponting is truly an once in a generation talent. No current Australian players can say they are playing at a level remotely close to the man in his prime.
But past glory should not translate to future job security. I understand if the selectors decide to select him for the Ashes so fans can properly farewell the Punter and recognise his achievements, but isn’t it better if they select him in a match where he can deservingly bow out as a winner instead?
Why put him through the ferocious English bowling attack and the even more demoralising media backlashes?
Watch Glenn Mitchell's wrap of the second Test, where Australia were victorious early on the final day, winning by 218 runs and taking a 2-0 series lead into the third Test in Perth.
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