Time for Ricky Ponting to say goodbye

33 Have your say

    Ricky Ponting axed from ODIs, but the door isn't closed, and Ponting isn't going anywhere just yet (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

    Related coverage

    In 1981, at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Nassau, Bahamas, boxing great Mohammad Ali entered the ring for the last time.

    His opponent was Trevor Berbick, a Jamaican who few thought belonged in the same ring as the champion.

    In the end, Berbick won easily, by unanimous decision. Ali was but a shadow of his former self.

    Yes, he got in a few punches, and might even have won the fifth and sixth rounds; he danced a little too, to remind fans of the performer he once was. But his powers had waned. Ali was no longer Ali.

    I was reminded of Ali’s decline recently as I watched Ricky Ponting play in the Caribbean. Australia’s greatest batsman since Bradman had nothing like the command at the crease that was once his hallmark. Where he was once calm, positive and assured, he was now hurried and uncertain.

    Not all the time: during his 41 in Trinidad he looked more fluent than at any other time in the series. He punished anything on his legs and even unsheathed a pull-shot or two, as if to remind the fans that he still had it. But, for the most part, it was clear to all who have watched him throughout the years: Ponting was no longer Ponting.

    In the first innings of the Trinidad Test, Kemar Roach, continuing his battle with Ponting from the last West Indies tour of Australia, got him with a peach of a delivery. Ponting was squared up by a ball that angled in and landed on off stump, then straightened and bounced – one that would probably have defeated him in his prime as well.

    What epitomised his troubles to me, however, was a delivery he faced a few minutes earlier. Roach had bowled a short ball that he top-edged and skied trying to pull. It wasn’t a particularly quick delivery but the renowned punisher of everything short seemed harried.

    In his prime, he would have been on his back foot almost as soon as the ball was released, waited, and then decided which boundary board he would disturb, or where in the stands the ball would have to be retrieved.

    Die-hard fans of Ponting would no doubt point out that not long ago he scored two hundreds, including a mammoth 221, and averaged 108 in a series against India. Yet they would have to agree that India’s bowling attack was one of the most inept to visit Australia in years.

    Michael Clarke team’s next Test engagements will be against South Africa in November, and one does not expect their highly lethal bowling unit to mimic the impotence of the Indians. Australia’s selectors have a decision to make.

    Well, not just one, because their openers need to be looked at as well. But in my view Ponting needs to remove himself from the side before November or the selectors should respectfully ask him to go.

    Respectfully, because he has been a feared and faithful warrior in Australia’s cause, and so cannot be cast away lightly. The run-of-the-mill player is easier to handle in such circumstances. Aware that their abilities were limited to begin with, they, and their fans, find separation less traumatic.

    The dominant player, on the other hand, sometimes fails to come to terms with their diminishing powers, and their fans often cling to the folklore long after the final chapter should have been closed.

    If the question then becomes who is ready to replace him, then I would answer that it doesn’t matter. Heroes should not be allowed to regress to the point where they become unrecognisable.

    Not that his legacy is in jeopardy – Mohammad Ali is still the greatest. But just as it saddened boxing devotees to see one of the sport’s icons dominated by a lumbering journeyman, Ponting should ensure that he not be made to look anything other than the great player that he undoubtedly is.

    Have Your Say

    If not logged in, please enter your name and email before submitting your comment. Please review our comments policy before posting on the Roar.

    Oldest | Newest | Most Recent

    The Crowd Says (33)

    • May 1st 2012 @ 10:45am
      spiro zavos said | May 1st 2012 @ 10:45am | ! Report

      All this is correct about Ricky Ponting, and nicely written. The problem for the selectors is that there are no obvious replacements to a Ponting who is a shadow of his former greatness. There is no Mark Waugh waiting to take his rightful place as the number 4 for the Baggy Greens.
      Ponting clearly wants to play on. I think he should pull out. But this is his choice – and that of the selectors.
      I can’t see him making significant runs in the next Ashes series which will be played in the UK.

      • May 2nd 2012 @ 4:20am
        Garfield Robinson said | May 2nd 2012 @ 4:20am | ! Report

        Thanks Spiro. I don’t see him making runs next ashes either. In fact I don’t think he should go to England. I believe he will find it very difficult against SA in November too. SA has an outstanding pace attack. You say there is nobody to come at 4 but as someone suggested Clarke could move up. I saw Khawaja and he looked a good player to me though he might have lost form. I also hear talk of Ferguson and Forrest. Surely one of them can be blooded at 6 if you move Hussey up to 5.

    • May 1st 2012 @ 10:52am
      Bobo said | May 1st 2012 @ 10:52am | ! Report

      I think Ricky Ponting’s legacy would be best preserved by his retirement, but I am not sure it would benefit the Australian cricket team.

      Who would replace him?

      This time last year, with a rampant Khawaja ascendant, a move like this might have made sense. But since he joined the Australian team, Khawaja’s form is a shadow of itself in all forms and levels of the game. Marsh suffered from the same fate, only more so. Hughes’ technique has been remodelled since his South African exploits, and the runs have dried up accordingly. Every new batting entrant into the Australian team (save, arguably, Warner) has gone rapidly downhill since having done so. Whoever is advising or supposed to be mentoring these players is not doing their job.

      Cowan is still picked because Australia are winning, but has not made a big score, nor even looked like making one since Perth. Warner’s form has fallen. Watson has an apparent inability to cash-in on a start. The lower order makes as many runs as the top orders does.

      In such an environment, can we afford to introduce another newcomer in place of Ponting? He may be diminished of form and probably eyesight as well, but I’m not sure putting an other newcomer in will help either the team or the debutant. Better to have Ponting’s experience and class until we have a 1-3 that can hold their place on form.

    • Roar Guru

      May 1st 2012 @ 11:08am
      peeeko said | May 1st 2012 @ 11:08am | ! Report

      Did any Australian batsmen perform on the tour? Ponting cant be sacked for an average tour after a great series against India. If he was the only batsmen that didnt score in the Windies thhen fair enough

      • May 1st 2012 @ 11:16am
        Garfield Robinson said | May 1st 2012 @ 11:16am | ! Report

        If anything he looked worse against NZ. He struggled against SA too.

        • May 1st 2012 @ 11:43am
          Bobo said | May 1st 2012 @ 11:43am | ! Report

          I think the Indian Summer was his Indian summer. You can’t drop him on form when no-one else has stood up, though, including those who are not in the test team. The only possible candidate is Forrest, and I would be reluctant to introduce him to the team until the top order is properly sorted.

        • May 1st 2012 @ 3:54pm
          Australian Rules said | May 1st 2012 @ 3:54pm | ! Report

          In Ponting’s last match he top-scored in Australia’s 2nd innings.
          The match before that he top-scored in the 2nd innings.
          The match before that he was appallingly run-out by Watson.
          In the match before that he scored 60* and 221 (Adelaide)
          In the match before that he batted only once for 7 runs (WACA)
          In the match before that he scored 134 (SCG)
          In the match before that he was Australia’s higher scorer, with 60 and 62 (MCG)

          I’m astounded by how quickly people jump on this guy. He is still regarded as the prize Australian scalp for every country in the world…except us.

          • May 12th 2012 @ 10:25am
            Don Willis said | May 12th 2012 @ 10:25am | ! Report

            He also made 74* in a ODI domestic final…and made 2 first class centuries as well!
            haters gonna hate.

    • May 1st 2012 @ 11:25am
      Disco said | May 1st 2012 @ 11:25am | ! Report

      That time was last summer.

    • May 1st 2012 @ 11:30am
      Vas Venkatramani said | May 1st 2012 @ 11:30am | ! Report

      At the beginning of the Australian summer, I was one who vouched for Ponting to be retained in the side, for I felt it would deny a huge gulf of experience in the side for a still newish captain in Michael Clarke.

      However, now is a better time to move on. I think he’s proven he still has good innings in him, and can make scores. But it depends when he scores. I dont think anyone doubts he can make 200 when the scorecard reads 2/200. But can he make a hundred when the score reads 2/20?

      The batting depth may not be there, but this might be an ideal time to test out Peter Forrest at number 6 and lift the rest up one notch. The other message it sends is that if Ponting is gone, then the race for places hots up, and batsmen around the country should try and put their case forward.

      We don’t play a Test until we face South Africa in Brisbane, and this should be our lineup then (barring injury or severe loss of form):


      • May 1st 2012 @ 12:06pm
        Garfield Robinson said | May 1st 2012 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

        Vas, do you think the openers, Cowan and Warner, should be persevered with? I happen to think they should be looked at. Even when I saw Warner making big scores I was not that impressed with him. Not impressed with Cowan either. Everyone is looking to the ashes but I think these openers will be meat and drink for the England seamers in English conditions.

        • May 1st 2012 @ 2:39pm
          Vas Venkatramani said | May 1st 2012 @ 2:39pm | ! Report

          Garfield, I persist with Cowan and Warner because even if they themselves haven’t been piling on big scores at the top, they have at the very least created a platform for the middle order. The problem is a middle order with an out-of-form Watson and diminising Ponting aren’t good enough to actually capitalise.

          I would argue that an opener’s job goes beyond just scoring runs and that is to see off the new ball, and the combination of Warner and Cowan has enough impetus in both attack and defence to do so. But I do agree in the sense that Cowan especially needs a big score to keep the hecklers at bay. It seems to be our national sport these days…

      • May 12th 2012 @ 10:28am
        Don Willis said | May 12th 2012 @ 10:28am | ! Report

        are u serious?

        -against SA in the 2nd test he came in at 2/15ish and made a 64
        -against NZ at brisbane he came in at 2/nothing made a 74.
        – both ininngs vs IND at the MCG he came in with the score under 50 and made two 60;s
        -against india at the SCG he came in on a HATRICK with the score at 2/24 and made 134
        – against india at adelaide he came in at 2/20 and made 220

        what are you on about?

    • May 1st 2012 @ 12:55pm
      Rhys said | May 1st 2012 @ 12:55pm | ! Report

      The selectors will have to make the call on one of Ponting or Hussey during (or before) next summer. The longer both play on the greater the chance that both will retire (or be retired) at the same time. Better to avoid two experienced middle order players both disappearing from the team at the same time. Hussey would seem the more likely candidate to continue on for 2013, maybe even the 13/14 season, so Ponting should either retire pre-12/13 or maybe make the South African series the final hoorah.

      Garfield, your comparison between Ali and Ponting is a valid one, but for the record it’s Muhammad Ali.

      • May 1st 2012 @ 2:15pm
        Garfield Robinson said | May 1st 2012 @ 2:15pm | ! Report

        Thanks Rhys. That was careless of me. I guess I was so certain of the spelling that I didn’t bother to check.

    , , , , , ,