Ashes 100-1 Countdown: 67 Days Until the Ashes…
It is doubtful that nearly four years ago when Ricky Ponting was drinking the victory champagne at the SCG after he became the first skipper since Warwick ‘The Big Ship’ Armstrong to lead Australia to an Ashes series whitewash, that he could have believed that he could be close to ending his reign as Captain by the time England were down under again.
But that is the real prospect awaiting Ponting should he fail to marshall his troops in regaining the Ashes when the series starts in Brisbane on 25th November. A series loss would be Ponting’s third against England and if that happened the selectors may well press the trigger. Public opinion in Australia to rebuild the side and discard some of the old guard could gain unstoppable momentum should the Poms beat the Aussies and that could spell the end for Ponting. That said, with a World Cup following almost immediately after, Ponting would likely have a chance to redeem himself.
Of course, Ponting may well choose to fall on his own sword should Australia lose a home series to its oldest foe for the first time since 1986/87. With Australian selectors of recent vintage also not known for their like of having ex-captains in the ranks, a series loss and a Ponting resignation or sacking could even see the end of his international career.
As a batsman, Ponting has had a lean time recently and indeed only averages a tick over 40 since the start of 2009, with just two hundreds in 19 tests. He has looked increasingly vulnerable when he first comes to the crease and although he is still, along with Michael Clarke, Australia’s premier test batsman, the signs of an irreversible decline appear to be there.
Ponting is a class batsman though so talk of his decline could well be premature, but the upcoming Ashes would appear to be a career crossroads for Ponting. If he wins the series and rediscovers his best form with the bat, the momentum could take him all the way to the 2013 Ashes in England where he will try for a third time to win a series in England as captain. If Australia lose the series however and Ponting’s malaise with the willow continues, it could well spark the end of his tenure and his place in the side.
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