Ricky ‘Punter’ Ponting may be more likely to study a form guide than a poll result but he can learn a thing of two from the NSW election, because he is a lot like the Kristina Keneally of Australian sport.
For the benefit of overseas readers or those who refuse to read anything but the back page of the paper, the NSW ALP government has just been swept from power after 16 years.
It happened within a few days of Ricky Ponting declaring he’s never really thought about retirement. Within 36 hours of that statement, his team was bundled out of the one-day world championship. They were the defending champions.
It’s hard not to see similarities with NSW Labor’s routing.
Ask Kristina, Ricky – some choose retirement and some have retirement thrust upon them. Why would either of them even want their jobs anymore?
It’s a hiding to nothing. Only pain and disappointment lie ahead. No possibility of new highs, and inevitable lows.
The Premier led a disintegrating government, taking New South Wales from ‘The Premier State’ to a consistent underperformer.
Ponting too, captained the tail-end of one of the greatest eras of Australian cricket but now presides over an Australian team that is neither swashbuckling nor gritty, neither exciting not workmanlike.
Both have expressed very public irritation with their team. Both have given the impression that the stress of being the head of an organisation in decline is no fun.
And both vowed to fight on, regardless.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d have either of them on my team. Local member or number three batsmen, you’d go a distance to find any better.
And in a different time, under a different set of circumstances, they could have been, perhaps they were, great leaders. But we cannot judge that accurately in this moment of darkness.
So despite the fact both hung in there, smiling unconvincingly and living in denial, their time is over.
I guess you could hang around indefinitely on the backbenches (as Kristina will) or somewhere in the batting lineup (as Ricky has indicated), but frankly that’s undignified.
For a politician, there ultimately comes a time when the decision ceases to become yours. KK just found that out, and how.
The captaincy of the Australian cricket, as the mythology asserts, is second only the Prime Minister as this nation’s most respected role.
After seeing some of the disrespect at this week’s carbon tax rally, Punter may actually have Australia’s highest office.
So it, and we, deserve more respect than the irritated fly-swat answers that constitute a Ponting press conference these days.
He can barely contain his disdain for the process and yet sits there, without a hint of irony, and says he hasn’t pondered his future.
Ricky, be very happy you are not in an elected office, because if you were, you would be very susceptible to swing.
The electors are pondering your future and in their vision, even if you are not, and if they had a say you wouldn’t have to worry about field settings and annoying teammates and media.
Punter, if the cricket lovers I know went to the polls, you’d be swept from power. Like Kristina Keneally, your tenure would no longer be fodder for the papers but for the historians.
And Michael Clark would claim your office and begin an era full of news ideas and new promise.
Mounting an argument that Michael Clark is analogous to Barry O’Farrell… well, that may prove a little harder.
But time will tell.