Another couple of failures for Ricky Ponting in the first Test match between Australia and New Zealand at Brisbane could spell the end of his international career.
Ponting’s form has been a source of worry for the Australian side for a couple of years. Since scoring a double-century against Pakistan in January 2010, Ponting has never gotten close to a three-figure mark in the 14 Test matches he has played.
In the 28 innings that followed that Pakistan game, the former Australia captain has scored only six half-centuries and averages 26.84. This pales in comparison to his overall average of 52.53.
Some critics have said that Ponting should have already been history, after he became the first Australian captain to lose the Ashes thrice. The selectors, according to these critics, took the softer approach, by relieving him of his captaincy duties but allowing him to continue as a batsman. It hasn’t helped his batting if the statistics are to be believed.
Surprisingly, bookmakers are offering 4/1 (Paddy Power
) for Ponting to top-score in the first innings of the Gabba Test match, better than Michael Clarke (9/2 at Boylesports
) or Michael Hussey (5/1 at Blue Square
Former New Zealand all-rounder Chris Cairns is one of those who believe that Ponting has done his bit and now needs to walk away. He said, “Nobody is making the right decision and they (Cricket Australia) are allowing Ponting to make that decision. And when you look at the likes of Mark Taylor, (Ian) Healy, Mark Waugh - they were told it was their time. And there's an elephant in the room at the moment in Ricky Ponting that nobody is really addressing.”
Even those advocating for his continued presence in the team seem to understand that he may be blocking a place for someone younger. There seems to be a growing belief that both, Shaun Marsh and Usman Khawaja deserve a longer go in the Test team together. With Ponting continuing to bat in the Australian middle-order, this is not possible.
That said, Ponting seems to have given himself a lifeline by scoring a match-winning half-century in the Johannesburg Test match against South Africa that concluded recently. If he can build on it in the two home Tests against New Zealand, he could cement his spot for the series against India that begins on December 26.
The other piece of good news from Ponting’s perspective is that despite Marsh’s good form, his back problems have failed to secure him a permanent berth in the playing 11. It needs to be seen whether Ponting can convert the limited remaining chances into something big for himself.