The Reuters global sports blog
Respected 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.
The cornerstone of Australia’s past and many successes was often their stubbornness and competitiveness but with the nation at an all time low the new way forward is honesty and the equation is a basic one.
Elementary, Shane Watson.
The man can bat, bowl and field, as he showed during the 3-1 Ashes defeat to England and the two Twenty20 internationals, but what was most notable about the all-rounder was his honesty in front of cameras.
Look away now Australian cricket fans, this one’s going to hurt like a cricket bat to the groin. Their team has carried their abject 2010 form into 2011 by slumping to another defeat to a rampant England side but this time in Twenty20 rather than tests.
While England notched up their eighth straight victory in the shortest version of cricket – a new world record – the last ball defeat in Adelaide means Australia have now lost 17 of their last 24 completed matches in all forms of the game.
11.53am local time on December 29, 2010 at Melbourne Cricket Ground. It’s the moment England cricket fans have waited nearly a quarter of a century for. The Ashes are won/retained in Australia.
Minus the Perth aberration, even the hardest Australian heart would have to concede it was deserved. Surely?
Ricky Ponting made the long, lonely walk back to the dressing room after another Ashes failure on Tuesday as England moved to the brink of a famous triumph at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)
The sight of Ponting’s wickets shattered after he had scrapped to 20 runs in 73 balls summed up his own personal decline and that of his once-dominant team.
England should now win the Melbourne test and retain the Ashes after taking a commanding first innings lead of 346 runs after batting through day two of the fourth test.
Australia captain Ricky Ponting’s frustration over a TV referral decision boiled over into a row with umpire Aleem Dar.
England gave the perfect response to those who had written them off after the 267-run drubbing in Perth with a day of absolute dominance in front of 84,345 fans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Sunday.
The first day of the “Boxing Day” test at the MCG is one of the great fixtures on the Australian sporting calendar but Andrew Strauss and his team were superior in every area of play to skittle the hosts for 98 runs and reach 157 without loss at the close of play on day one of the fourth Ashes test.
Congratulations to Australia for finally coming to the Ashes party. As humiliating as the innings loss was in Adelaide, to level the series in such emphatic style with a 267-run win in Perth has re-asserted some authority over the old enemy.
Naturally, questions will now to turn to England’s frailties, and more pointedly to the dismantling of their so-called “world-class” batting line up, as well as their inability to deal with a bouncy pitch and fast short-pitched bowling.
Well there it is. Australia thrash England by 267 runs in Perth and the Ashes series is all square at 1-1 with two tests to go in Melbourne and Sydney.
Australia’s policy of playing four seamers on a bouncy track paid dividends and England’s batsmen proved they weren’t such world beaters when they were put under serious pressure.
It would be difficult to overestimate the importance of Mitchell Johnson’s display on day two of the third Ashes test. Australia had all but given up on the Ashes after England bowled them out for 268 on day one. The post mortem had started and the main topic of discussion was about who could or would replace Ricky Ponting as skipper.
On Friday morning, Johnson was reborn as a test bowler and skittled England’s top order. The impact was immediate. Suddenly, the Australian voices in the crowd drowned out England’s “Barmy Army”, the Australian players were chirping aggressively and the English wickets kept tumbling until they were bowled out for 187. Johnson finished with 6-38.