Thursday, 12 March 2009

Ponting on the Borderline

Ricky Ponting is in a position not experienced by an Australian Captain since Allan Border took the reins of a down and out XI in the Eighties.
Mark Taylor was handed the most important job in the country and a team that had talent and confidence, he was a ruthless attacking captain that backed himself and his team and exploited it talents perfectly.
Steven Waugh is perhaps Australian cricket's luckiest captain, presiding over arguably its best team ever and with Australian cricket's best brain standing in the slips on hand to turn to if and when needed.
We will never know if he was any good as a captain because my Sicilian Great-Grandmother (who's only knowledge of cricket was how to roast them when times were tough) could have led the side with as much distinction.
Ponting took over a hugely successful team with massive amounts of experience to draw on and like any astute and wise leader was not backward in seeking advice both on and off the field.
The team bears no resemblance now to the great teams of the recent years and hundreds of tests worth of experience have been lost. As any-one would expect the team had to go backward before it went forward again.
After a fantastic battle in Australia that could have gone either way and success in the first two tests in South Africa (unexpected by most) a few things have been noticed.
Ponting seems now a General on the field; Gone are the on field discussions between overs and out come the attacking field settings and bowling changes with an authoritarian wave, point nod or word. Ponting is a man in control of his team and his destiny, he has his "own" team now and has had a large hand in shaping it.
Watching on the news at training, he was standing in the umpires position watching both bat and ball, giving encouragement, dispensing advice, "feeling his team", watching, thinking.
Hearing him arrive on the Afican continent with words like "confidence", "attacking" and "positive" it was clear to see that he is taking on the challenge ahead of him when others might have hedged by saying things like "re-building" "inexperienced" and "green"

We are on the way to learning just how good he is and the evidence is looking good.


  1. Wise words indeed Sledgie. But as always you're downfall is mentioning Sir Steve in such a disparaging way. There is no doubt Waugh had the best playing group since the 1948 Invincibles at his disposal. But he still had to make decisions all over the world at tough times (rare but it happened). He still had to go for the throat with gambles that invariably paid off - because of the talent that responded positively. Your lamenting of the fact Warne didn't captain should be separate from the fact that Waugh did. Aus won 16 tests in a row - how the hell could you replace the captain in such a scenario just because another bloke would be good at the helm? That's no reason at all to sack Waugh for Warne. Waugh wasn't under-performing! Why don't you mention the fact that Ponting was selected as captain incumbent instead of Warne? It seems odd that you give Ponting glowing reviews but take the sword to Waugh. This guys had been in the team at its darkest hours under Border. He was part of the revival of the Aus test team and he deserved to lead it.

  2. well said LRO, you've covered those points perfectly, i'll address a few more.

    yes, Australia needed to go back before going forward, new members needed to find their feet and as they got experience, it is to be expected that some loses would come our way... the fact that all the RSA tests here could have gone either way tells me that the new guys were keen, and that maybe we only lost due to the selectors failing to push Hayden and threaten Hussey (and missing an extra bowler).

    "Ponting seems now a General on the field; Gone are the on field discussions between overs and out come the attacking field settings and bowling changes with an authoritarian wave, point nod or word."
    But is he this way because it now "his" team, or because he absolutely had to improve these points of his game given how poor he was at this in India? i think the later!

    mmmm Sicilian crickets!!!

    stoph verismo

  3. POTD LRo
    your money is in the bank!

  4. Not one positive thing said about Ricky by either of you is disaponting, I know he is Tasmanian but strewth.
    LRO: Steven Waugh had a wonderful career (over 10,000 runs at over 40 and in his early years bowled some good mediums), a fantastic cricketer.
    The ONLY disparaging thing I had to say about him was that he was lucky. I didn't even mention Warne.
    If Shane HAD been captain instead of Steve then it would have been just as hard to quantify how good he was because of the players around him.
    I think you summed it up perfectly when you acknowleged that it was a rare thing for "Sir" Steve to have to make tough decisions.
    Stoph: Ponting certainly had lessons to learn from the Indian campaign, isn't it great to see that he has addressed those? Your always learning in this game, and Ponting keeps getting better. Also the selectors didn't help his cause whilst in India.
    So I agree with both of your points (that he has learned from mistakes as well as having "his" team).

  5. The ONLY thing you said about Sir Steve was that he was perhaps Australia's luckiest captain and that your great grandmother could have done his job. Don't start downplaying the tone of such a claim. I know you hate him, and he hates you.

    I'm a big fan of Ponting but didn't feel the need to sing his praises in my post which was addressing something different. Few guys have handled the pressure of captain and batting at 3 so well. He averages 56 (Sir Steve was over 50 too - not just over 40) and makes runs at tough times when Aus needs them the most. He has matured and developed as a captain and looks more confident and assured than he did previously.

  6. Ok, so we have worked out that Sir Steve averaged over 20 (well over admittedly) was in the right place at the right time having the best side since '48 or maybe ever, only rarely had to make tough decisions (cheers for that one) and was nearly the best batsman in his family.
    Oh from NSW too.
    As for Sir Steve hating me...well I am crying in the corner waiting for him to come and mentally disintegrate me.

  7. yes, and credit where it is due; he has fixed up the untidiness that was the Indian over-rate shemozzle; and become more assertive.

    it begs the question though, if he neede to purge out the old guard to find his authoritarian feet, did he have the ticker at that time to lead? it is one thing to ask advice of senior players, it is another to be assertive and back yourself; if his slowness was because Ponting felt the need to run everything by Hayden, that is an inherent weakness. i hope one has now passed.

    stoph verismo
    down the wicket

  8. Maybe he didn't have the ticker but I don't think there was any better option to be honest. Aus couldn't find 20 wickets so I'm not surprised Ponting looked for advice. Now the bowling looks more like a group with different dimensions that can stand up on its own. The spinner issue is one that I'm not sure about. Doesn't look like the selectors are either. My belief is that if you pick a spinner in the 12 then you must believe he is worth bowling. Therefore unless the pitch is a road he should be picked. If you're content to have Clarke, North or Katich to bowl some turners then don't put a spinner as 12th man. Why the hell would you?

    But you're right Stoph - it doesn't look good if the captain needs advice on whether to take the new ball. Maybe Punter ran out of plans; if pace wasn't doing the job and the batsmen found part-time spin easy going what else could he do? It must have been hard when Katich wouldn't bowl and Krejza or Hauritz weren't getting the job done. Where did all these budding spinners go after Warne came on the scene? Sledgie - time for you to get noticed. I'm working on off-spin now as I didn't get a bowl with pace this year. Maybe DTW can provide the answer to Aus's spinning dilemma.

  9. modesty forbids me to say that my leg break absolutely rips; and if i was a braggart,i'd also mention that my flight is mesmerising! but Sledgie knows that, so i won't say anything at all.

    Certainly, any where away from the subcontinent probably can be played without a specialist- as much as i'd prefer to watch and have one. and the 3 mentioned can clearly fill the void when it is needed only as a change of pace. until we find/develop a world class turner then it is pointless having someone sit on the side lines just out of reach of a game, when they could be working harder at 1st class level polishing their skill.

    it is a good question though: where are all of the kids that watched and wanted to be Warne? It is 2 years now since he left test; all the 10 year olds that were charmed by leggies 5 years into Warnes international career should be in their early 20's now; ready for service. Surely the onus was on CA to scout out the best of the kids and nurture them with regular Jenner clinics and time with Warne. it looks like CA just kicked back and expected it to happen, and now have been caught flat footed.

    if they still want some spin powerhouses, start now with the above plan.

    stoph verismo
    down the wicket

  10. Bugger Stopheran,
    I agree you can turn the odd ball, but then again so did magilla, lots (fat lot of good it did the loud mouthed vino swilling braggart.
    Yes your flight is improving, a little more practice and you might learn from me how to get that drift and dip. also to turn it the other way...unpicked.

  11. That should have begun "Bugger the Modesty Stpheran"

  12. i am one of those rare individuals that because of my ability to impart so much variety of side-spin on the ball, i just don't need to bowl a wrong'un!
    When the ball turns past the edge, around the back of your legs, between bat and pad and pops up to your mid-rift from your toes all with a cork-screw like movement through the air, bowling a googly becomes redundant.

    it is true Sledgie that your leggies that turn the other way around are hard to pick, the problem for you is that when you bowl them, i have time to put on a janitors hat and continually sweep you away to fine leg given that they are pitched outside leg and move away! 4 MORE THANKS!

    ps your flopper (sic) is better than your wrong'un!

  13. Let me say that Ponting is by no means in the same situation as Border was all those years ago. Border was faced with an Australian line up raped by retirement, rebel tours and the hangover from the World Series Cricket debacle. He was also faced with a West Indies team that was arguably superior to Steve Waugh's "invincible" team that first won 16 in a row. Add a spirited Hadlee led NZ and the Botham inspired Poms and all of a sudden you realise that Ponting is on Lindeman Island drinking a cocktail. The world teams of today are serviceable at best compared to the super sides of the mid to late 80's.
    I understand the slight demise of Australia lately , however temporary might have drawn some fence sitters off their pickets and into nay sayers territory but sensationlists like that will soon be back on the fence peering over at all who have remained faithful to the baggy green.
    No offense to Ponting but even he would say his and Borders predicaments bear no resemblance whatsoever.

  14. that sums up the comparisons well Nospmas... thanks for putting the topic back onto the right line and length.

    i'm not sure about the WI side being superior (granted you did say arguably)to Waugh's team. i know watching the Windies i never felt like we were ever on top even when we were getting wickets or making runs, because the quality and depth of the batting was outstanding, and the bowling so totally devastating; they certainly were several notches above anything for a while before them and right up to Australia's golden era of Taylor/Waugh/Ponting (read McGrath/Warne et al).
    maybe it was national pride but i believe (apart from the records and comparing the records of the teams) that what made that Australian side so great was the diversity within the team. Obviously having the greatest slow bowler in history helped this diversity- the Windies only really had part time turners. While Taylor was captain, you knew from the moment Ponting got a cap that we had a captain an heir and his successor in place.
    A fast bowler that through his perfect economy of movement barely lot a kph throughout his long career and has been arguably the most accurate bowler ever.
    Whilst Heals and Dujon batted in much the same tradition keeper way, later we had a keeper that was a match winner off his own bat and was easily good enough to bat against the new nut.

    All that said, i would rather face 10 overs from McGrath and Gillespie (as good as they were) than one each from Holding, Marshall, Garner and later Walsh/Ambrose!
    There is no denying that the 5 prong pace attack of the WI side had scored the first point in any match without sending down a nut just based on the intimidation they produced!

    for putting the subject on track and remembering these crucial details that governed Borders situation:

    Border was faced with an Australian line up raped by retirement, rebel tours and the hangover from the World Series Cricket debacle. are now on a hat-trick with your 2nd POTD.

  15. Far from comparing Ponting and Border in a world cricket sense (impossible to do for in any era for any two captains) I was merely trying to highlight a relationship between two greats of the game and their internal journey.
    Border, no doubt had the harder of tasks.
    Be that as it may there are comparisons to be drawn...
    Both share, if fleetingly for Ponting, a reign over a changing team and a time of uncertainty.
    Both share a rule presiding over the changing of the guard.
    BOTH share a learning and growing experience, of helping to shape and grow and mentor a new team.
    In all of these respects the are great comparisons to be drawn between the two.
    Of course there are different outside influences, Border up against fantastic and enigmatic teams in the West Indies (15 unbeaten tests) and a strong England (hard to remember). And Ponting up against a resurgent South Africa fresh from a losing campaign in India (where only one team Australian team has won a series in the past 60 odd years) un-precedented media introspection, and doubters both inside and out.
    Both of these players have had to deal with obstacles and mountains both internal and ex. Both, so far for Ponting have come through with distinction.
    It is obvious that these two great leaders can be compared. With no other captain since his reign can Border be compared other than Ponting because of the set of circumstances that these players have set themselves to face.

  16. well, Sledgie, you drew me into the shot with sound logic and rationale. And showed good judgement by not separating Taylor away from Waugh in the recipient of golden goods stakes.

    because i couldn't leave that point out, i had to post; thereby earning you your 10 comments.
    congrats on being the first recipient; although i was responsible for a post or 2 off comment! maybe i should have clarified that as a prerequisite too. any thoughts on the structure of that (off-topic posts/moderator posts) people? all resonable opinions will be considered as i want this to be a fair competition.

  17. not bothered about the points Stopher, its all about the cricket.

  18. Off topic, warning. Off, off topic face down draggings.