If Australia do go on to win the World Cup, there will be one decision from coach Justin Langer that will go down as a masterstroke.
Modern cricket is full of coaches. Batting, bowling, fielding, high performance, skills and fitness. Gone are the days where the coach would be the thing you’d sit on to get to the match.
Although looking in from the outside it appears to be a few too many cooks, the appointment of one person in particular looks to be a masterstroke from Australia – Ricky Ponting.
Pointing is synonymous with World Cup success. He is one of only three players (Glenn McGrath and Adam Gilchrist are the others) who have won three World Cups. He captained Australia to two of those.
It’s unlikely anyone who saw his 140* in the final of the 2003 tournament will ever forget it. He was unstoppable that day, and produced one of the World Cup’s greatest ever batting displays.
The 6 off the penultimate ball of Australia’s innings is one of those shots that still excites me more than 16 years later. Ponting’s World Cup journey was full of personal and team successes.
It may be coincidence, or it may not be, but Australia’s fortunes have turned around since his announcement as the World Cup assistant coach.
Langer was appointed Australia’s head coach in May 2018, and in the following nine months Australia won two from 11 one day internationals. Ponting was announced as the World Cup assistant coach in February of 2019, and the turnaround in Australian cricket was immediate.
Since then Australia have won 12 out of 15 one day matches – a success rate of 80 per cent.
To give the credit to a coaching announcement may be going a little too far, and to suggest it was purely this would not be fair to the players who have helped get the form back on track.
It would also undersell the existing coaches who would have put a lot of hard work into getting the Australian team performing well again. However, there are a few things that are hard to dispute by bringing Ponting into the Australian set up.
Past successes Ponting enjoyed as a player brings belief to the present players. He knows what it takes because he has done it.
But Ponting isn’t just someone who brings his past successes with him. He doesn’t simply toe the party line to keep people happy and he isn’t there to stroke egos.
He has shown in his coaching ventures to date and in the media that he can get the message through in a relatively calm and positive manner. He has the qualities of what makes up a good coach.
Ponting can also command the attention of the dressing room. When he speaks, the senior players and the newcomers listen.
He has that presence. His 2019 IPL season saw him take Delhi from last place in 2018 to within a match of the final in 2019.
Ponting’s qualities as a coach is his communication, presence and wonderful cricketing knowledge. Qualities all teams need if they want to be successful.
Between January 2017 and January 2019 Australia won four from 24 one day internationals, the leanest period in Australian one day cricket history. It has turned around, and quite dramatically since.
Although it would be too simple to suggest that the appointment of Ricky Ponting was the reason for Australia’s turn around, to ignore his appointment as not being a factor would be missing out on the qualities he brings to the Australian dressing room as a coach and leader of the Australian team.
Langer had a rough start to his time as Australian coach, but the appointment of his former teammate may be the best decision he makes in his time as the Australian coach.