Remember the good old days when a captain was held accountable?
It is a well known fact that in cricket- unlike most other team sports- the captain is so much more in control than the coach; who is really not much more than an extra set of eyes for the captain at training.
Well, with the first of foreseeable many trophies on the way out of the cabinet, it must be time to ask all the big questions. I have had a snipe at CA (with more to come) about Australia basically imploding, the next obvious point of call HAS to be Ricky Ponting himself.
Throughout this series, Ponting has failed to show any: arrogance, aggression and even obnoxiousness- for that matter, no one seems to have (at least in the media) shown any of these traits! And falling back on that old chestnut of solid sledging just isn't enough when you are being out classed. It feels as if after every day of the series there has been a suitably annoying (to me as an Aussie, anyway) media conference given by the main Indian protagonist. Katich's outburst falls into anger, not aggression category. And it seams Ponting can't turn it around either, he went over there on the back foot and has been unable to find any front foot attacking options since. maybe it is a lack of faith in his team that has him being so defensive (what's the old adage? "a good craftsman doesn't blame his tools."), or maybe he just knows that this Indian side is better than his! Either way, if you look beaten from day one, you are!
Still, the lack of aggression shows at every level: obviously- as stated- in the media, but also in the field settings and the use of the bowling, and particularly in the batting- talk about taking the bait on day 3 at Nagpur! Dry up the runs, bye, bye trophy.
It is a credit to Katich and Hussey that they gave us a competitive total, but surely the attitude must be, "we are not here to be 'competitive', we are here to win and retain the Border-Gavaskar." Apart from Whites knock, it is a worry when the next best score is the EXTRAS (equal with Haddin). What was the directive to the batsmen, play for a draw?
And while he hasn't been too shabby with the bat this tour of India, i hope Ponting didn't laugh too much when Warne tormented Daryl Cullinan, because when Ponting comes out to bat next innings, it would be totally justified if Harbi walked straight up and gave him a carrot.
For mine, Ponting is on his last legs; I've always enjoyed him as a batsman, but the 2005 ashes captaincy showed his underlying lack of aggression when directing his team. The following ashes in Australia is rightly a moment to be proud of as captain- but how much was Ponting controlling the procedure? Given the amount of overs bowled by Warne (the person who quite rightly should have been captain!), at best Ponting could say he shared the accolade of the 5 nil whitewash leadership.
What he does today, when Australia have absolutely nothing to lose and a trophy to hold onto will determine his worth as skipper in many peoples eyes. I don't think anyone would be critical if Ricky constantly changed the bowlers, their ends and field placements to try and unsettle the batsman; of course given Australia's abysmal over rates, it would only be appreciated if he showed that the fielding placements were pre-planned and quickly implemented; the players should be bolting into the new positions every time a change is called to really show that there is a plan behind the look of chaos. if you can't beat 'em with brilliance, baffle 'em with...
Just do something Ricky!
*new ricky ponting poll below*