Ashes 100-1 Countdown: 48 Days Until the Ashes…
In my opinion, there is no question that Ricky Ponting will go down as one of the all time greatest batsmen. Himself, Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara are without question the finest 3 batsmen of their generation (for my money the Little Master is the best of the 3). But whilst punters status in the batting pantheon is unquestionable, his ability as a captain can be scrutinized. Such kinds of scrutiny are epitomized in India’s run chase in the opening test at Mohali.
With India finding themselves 8 wickets down for 124 chasing a seemingly impossible target of 216 for victory, some of the tactics employed by the Australian captain were strange to say the least. The game should have surely been out of India’s reach. Yet VVS Laxman guided them to victory with help from Ishant Sharma, a dubious lbw decision and 4 overthrows. Before deconstructing the captaincy in the latter stages, it’ worthwhile to note just how great test cricket can be. This was a cracking match that for 3 days failed to inspire. The final 2 days ebbed and flowed and the final session of cricket was some of the most enthralling you’ll ever see. But what it also demonstrated was the fine margins involved in test cricket…
Play by Play of the Fine Margins of Test Cricket
India find themselves 9 down still requiring 11 runs for victory after a poor lbw decision given by Ian Gould. To the naked eye it looked like it was going down the leg side and Hawkeye proved the case. No referrals in this test.
India move to within 6 runs of victory.
Johnson to Ojha – Johnson raps him on the pads and Australia in its entirety go up for lbw. It’s plumb (And Australia win!) but given not out. The ball squirts out on the off side towards gully. Meanwhile Ojha does the old “where did it go, lets take a walk down the track” dance. Michael Clarke shys at the wickets and it misses by a whisker (Australia so close again). It goes for 4 overthrows and India are 2 shy of a famous victory.
Johnson to Ojha – 2 leg byes. Johnson slips it down the legside and India scramble 2 leg byes. The crowd goes wild and India win a nail biting test.
You can watch the India vs Australia 1st Test Day 5 Highlights here. Including the play by play.
It was incredible cricket but should India have been allowed to win or even get that close?
With 30 still to chase who do you turn to?
If your name is Ricky Ponting apparently the answer to that question is part time off spinner Marcus “innocuous” North. Each over North was brought on for another crack the aussies in the pub would hurl abuse at Punter. And more to the point Ishant Sharma – for the most part – would play him with consummate ease. In a situation where a runs chase goes down to the wire, you need to attack from both ends. Meanwhile at one stage Ponting decided to give Shane Watson a two over burst and actually not attack from either end (Watson had hardly bowled in the game previous with < 10 overs). With 20 runs required for victory, this was a cardinal sin. The equation should be simple at this stage – attack from both ends with your most potent bowlers: Mitchell Johnson (5 for in the 1st innings) and Ben Hilfenhaus (3 wickets in the innings so far and bowling with great rhythm).
These course of events add further evidence to the notion that whilst Ponting is a great batsmen, his captaincy does not reach anywhere near the same heights. And that’s despite the World Cups and dominance of the Australia side. We can even think back to The Ashes in 2009. For all Australia’s statistical dominance in the series, it was England who emerged victorious. They won vital sessions and Strauss’s captaincy for the most part drew plaudits.
Is Ricky Ponting a dodgy captain or am I being extremely harsh to Punter?
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