Ponting Steps down from Captaincy: What's the Future of Team Australia now?
There was a sense of inevitability in Ricky Ponting‘s announcement today of him stepping down as Australia Skipper. The only point of conjecture was whether it was solely and wholly his decision or if indeed he was pushed into it by others in higher positions who are trying to save their respective skins by putting the attention firmly on him for Australia’s current downward trend.
Either way you look at it, it’s irrelevant for the only relevance now is ‘where to now for Australia?’ Logically the replacement will be Michael Clarke in all forms of the game, but to be frank his very position in the side should be at stake with how tenuous his form has been. Highlighted by his average of just under 18 in his last 13 Test innings. His elevation to Captaincy poses the question of the added pressure on him and how it will affect him. It has been a rapid decline for him in recent seasons in Test cricket.
The sad reality of the matter though is there is no one else who could assume the role: the role which was once played by great Steve Waugh. It highlights the lack of forward planning of the Australian think tank who for years were given the suggestion of trying a natural leader in Cameroon White in Test cricket to see if he’s able. Sadly now Cam White, as shown in this World Cup, is a shadow of his former self, so that option no longer exists.
The only option that should be looked into is the possibility of both Brad Haddin and Tim Paine playing in the same side with one batting at 6 and being Skipper and the other assuming the glove work. In the short term this should be Haddin and then long term Tim Paine groomed as a successor.
As for Ponting well its a sad blight on an exceptional career that he will not end as Australian Skipper which on the back of his record he had every right to do and to be honest again highlighted Cricket Australia’s incompetence. After the Ashes were lost, it was a period when a broom should have been run through the place. Instigated by Ponting having a farewell game in Sydney where he would have got the fanfare and due adulation he deserved for his fine career.
Him continuing on as a player also raises a few pressing questions in the immediate future. For it’s not the Aussies way to have skippers quit and then continue on as players with the last one being Ian Chappell who did it some 30 odd years ago. So with Ponting relinquishing the role and more than likely continuing, it will pose the most relevant question of the synergy in the change room between Ponting and Clarke.
Also there is no doubt at all that Ponting can still make contributions to the Team through his batting. More crucially it’s a game that he is taking away from a young player that should be emphasized. The truth of Ricky is that he is 36 and with him hanging around and if the likes of Hussey and Katich remain, Australia will have a top 6 with half who are 36 and above.
Hardly a fact that inspires an adherence to a transition period and a new Australian Team.