Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Ponting’s success blighted by Ashes defeats

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CRICKET-AUSTRALIA/PONTINGRespected but seldom loved at home, admired but also reviled abroad, Ricky Ponting led Australia to great success but his captaincy will ultimately be defined by three lost Ashes series.

The tough, single-minded Tasmanian
always put the team first and that, he said, had prompted him to stand down after nine years in charge of the Australia one-day team and seven as test skipper on Tuesday.

The most test (48) and one-day international (164) wins by any captain as well as successive World Cup triumphs in 2003 and 2007 is an impressive record by any standards, and there has never been any doubt about his quality as a batsman.

And yet, ever since he took over a world-beating side from Steve Waugh, there has always been a question mark hovering over his captaincy.

His honeymoon period as test captain lasted little over a year until he blotted his copy book with the ultimate sin for an Australian captain, the loss of an Ashes series to England.

Plodding England undone by return to 60s mentality

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England and their captain Andrew Strauss were slammed from every direction for their safety-first declaration on the final day of the last test against the West Indies – which merely spared them the criticism they should have got for their performance on the first two days.

Strauss said it was a match he was prepared to lose to give himself the chance to win it and square the series, yet from the toss he went about his task as if he was facing the Windies of old rather than the nervy side desperate to secure a draw any way they could.

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