Jeff Thomson believes Australia will win the upcoming Ashes series against England by a single Test despite slating the captaincy skills of Ricky Ponting.
Aussie pace great Thomson has never been a fan of Ponting as a captain even though the Tasmanian has been at the helm of an Australia side that has dominated the five-day game since the star batsman took charge five years ago.
“I thought Ricky was crap when he was first captain in 2004 and nothing much has improved since then,” said 58-year-old Thomson at a lunch to launch the Ashes.
“I’m not the only one who thinks that. I’ve always bagged him and everyone at home thinks he’s shit at the captaincy,” he said.
“He’s a great player but captaincy is a totally different thing,” Thomson said. “I couldn’t believe it when he’d been picked as captain. There was no-one else to pick but Ponting still had no experience.”
“He’d only captained one side ever before. How did he get to lead Australia with that sort of experience?” “Thommo” asked.
“He was in a side that had very good players and now he’s got a side that has average players. He’s still left wanting,” he said.
“You see it on him — he gets frustrated. He worries when the players don’t do what he’s used to with the ball when he passes it to them,” Thomson said.
“This is half the reason he’s got a bloke in there who can’t even spin a ball [Nathan Hauritz]. Simon Katich and Michael Clarke have more chance of taking a wicket than Hauritz,” the former fiery fast bowler said.
“Why go for a guy like that? I don’t rate Hauritz,” said Thomson, whose verbal attacks on Ponting were almost as fierce as the barrage of bouncers he used to pepper England batsmen with back in the 1970s.
“The choices he makes, his field settings and the things he does are never right,” he said. “England have the edge in the captaincy department. But while England have a better captain, Australia have a better line-up.”
But Thomson believes that team won’t include a place for experienced quick Brett Lee, making his way back from injury.
“I don’t see a place for Brett Lee in this side. He hasn’t played for such a long time,” he said.
“Mitchell Johnson is a handy bowler but what’s really added another string to his bow is his batting — he’s a really good batsman. He bats properly and is a good hitter of the ball. He’s got defense and attack,” Thomson said.
“I’ve played in England many times and it’s much harder for the bowlers, but I think we’ll win the series by a single Test,” he said.