Where to now for Punta?

Another series defeat in India sees Ricky Ponting’s captaincy under severe fire once again.

The Australian camp denies Ponting’s captaincy is a concern. Vocal critics like Darren Berry, who always seems to carry a chip on his shoulder, begs to differ.

Australia have now lost three consecutive Test Matches and the Australian public who have been spoilt of success are demanding immediate answers.

Amazingly, if it wasn’t for Billy Bowden’s awfully stuborn finger not being raised, Australia would have won the first Test. Cricket really is a game of inches and fortune.

Critics are demanding Ponting to drop down the batting order. This is absurd and not dilligently thought through. Ricky proved his gritty determination and more importantly class at the crease with three fine 70’s. He was only outperformed by India’s greatest batsman, Sachin Tendulkar.

However, Ponting must address his fielding tactics and management of his bowlers. Ricky is not of the Taylor-ilk when it comes to tactics. Ponting’s captaincy in the field was first exposed in the 2005 Ashes series where Australia were famously defeated by the Poms. He failed to adjust to the circumstances and too often the fields he set were too defensive. Similar to the recent Indian tour. In the first Test, he denied Nathan Haurtiz an opportunity to bowl Australia to victory. Haurtiz has obvious limitations but a spinner is a proven weapon against the tail. Furthermore, Australia’s seam bowlers are often under-used at the best of times. Although, a bowling attack without a McGrath and Warne certainly makes things rather difficult for any captain.

Despite Ponting’s occassional short-comings in regards to field tactics, he is the right and only man to lead Australia’s assault on the Ashes this summer. Many forget Punta often carries Australia’s batting fortunes on his back. The men who waltz to the crease after him- Clarke, Hussey and North- are fast becoming the belligerent battlers of the Australian line-up. To think Clarke is heralded Australia’s next captain. Like many of his middle order mates, he can barely manage a run.

Ponting is still the prize scalp who the Poms will be ever so hungry for. He will be the difference in this summer’s Ashes Series. But if the series falls the Poms way, expect the vicious critizisms of Ponting’s captaincy to further intensify.

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