The Roar
The Roar


Struggling Ponting wants his mates, not a process or plan

1st February, 2009
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Australia's Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke discuss tactics during the One Day International, Australia v New Zealand match at the WACA in Perth, Sunday Feb. 1, 2009. (AAP Image/Tony McDonough)

So Australia only just failed to beat New Zealand in the first game of the five match series. It was close. Very close.

Any game that goes to the last ball is exciting, and usually the team that wins doesn’t really care about how they got across the line. They celebrate and move on to the next caravan stop.

The team that loses however begins the ‘what if’ game. The (generally) long list of ‘what ifs’ (aka WIs) that could have gone the other way and changed the result of the match are dragged out and forensically examined.

A quick single missed, an indefinite call between runners, a wide here, a no-ball there, a half volley not put away, a three turned into a two or a single misfield or fumble.

That’s all it takes to lose a one run game.

Coaches analyse and practice all manner of things to eliminate some, or all of those WIs. Other WIs come from selectors and physios and Chief executives and Chairman. Australian Cricket has a truck load of ‘what ifs’ at the moment.

Ricky Ponty will no doubt find a few more WIs after Sunday night’s fifth loss in a row. He will find it difficult to beat one of his classic WIs after the Melbourne loss to South Africa when he told the ABC Radio reporter that his team lost because “we failed to use the wind well enough … when we batted”.

Most people have another name for ‘what ifs’: excuses.


Ponting has yet to recognise (publicly at least) the quality of his opponents or the fact that his team has been outplayed. He prefers to concentrate on the WIs and plays an indirect blame game within his own squad.

He is not alone in denial of the state of the national cricket team. Ponty does not like to admit that mistakes are being made at any levels of his team’s game, but you can hardly blame him for head in the sand theory when neither his Chairman, Chairman of selectors or coaching staff can do so either.

It is prophetically bandied about by psychologists that the first step to a solution for a problem is to admit that you actually have a problem. Hello Cricket Australia! Wakey wakey!!

Ponting wants Andrew Symonds back in ‘my team’ as soon as possible. It would be nice if Andrew made a run or took a wicket to justify his place in any team.

Oh, and that bit about ‘admitting you have a problem’ applies to other addictive behaviors Andrew may be succumbing to. Ian Chappell thinks that bringing Symonds back into the team in his present state would be unsettling for the team. You bet it would . A strong ethical stance is required here Rick, this is not about picking your mates to have a game as happened at the start of this summer when Symonds was brought back prematurely against New Zealand despite his Queensland team mates saying he was mentally a galaxy away and not surprisingly hadn’t made a run in domestic matches.

The Chairman of Selectors can never be found and now the newly installed Chairman of the Board (who apparently is being paid a handsome salary to act in a fulltime position, in effect becoming an Executive Chairman) never says a word about the declining standards and the actions of his captain.

There seems to be no process and no plan, either in selections, discipline, match day tactics or team balance.

Where is Cameron White headed? A specialist number 7 who doesn’t bowl?


Sean Marsh’s injury may well force a re-think from the wise men. Brad Haddin should be opening the batting. He is the perfect man for the position, he is wasted down the order (although the current top order failures have seen him in action early).

With Haddin up at 1, another bowler can be selected, eg a specialist spinner!

The most in form batsmen in Australia at the moment is Simon Katich, and where was he playing on Sunday afternoon? Yep, Newcastle Sportsground.

Brad Hodge not good enough guys? Maybe he’s not one of the glorious leader’s close buddies.

The rookie South African Captain Johan Botha out captained Ponting by the length of the Flemington straight. Dan Vettori has begun the series in similar vein.

Who is formulating the Australian match plan and has anyone seen the bowling coach (Troy Cooley)? He hasn’t been spotted all summer.

I don’t care how many WIs you come up with over the first game, you won’t solve too many long term problems unless you open your eyes and smell the roses (as Len Pascoe once so eloquently put it ).

Denial and excuse making are for losers.