Ricky Ponting may be just one Test defeat away from becoming the first Australian captain in 120 years to lose three Ashes series, but he is not entertaining any retirement thoughts.
Ponting, who turns 36 on Dec. 19, has not been at the top of his form with the bat while his team trail England 1-0 in the five-match series with three Tests remaining.
“My absolute focus is on all the things within my control, preparing the team and myself to perform at our very best in Perth, Melbourne and then Sydney over the next three tests,” Ponting wrote in the Australian newspaper on yesterday.
“I have not stopped for one moment to consider retirement. The question of my future as captain is ultimately a decision for Cricket Australia and categorically the future of Australian cricket must come first,” he added. “I have every confidence in my ability to score runs and be the experienced batsman and leader that my teammates can rely on.”
“As captain, I am accountable for the performance of my team and I accept that our most recent results mean that I am being assessed more critically than at other times in my career as captain,” Ponting wrote. “The team is my priority, not my own ego or the status that comes with being the captain of the Australian cricket team.”
Ponting conceded England had dominated the series so far.
Meanwhile, Australian newspapers yesterday said selectors have been confused and contradictory in their choice of a side tagged the “Recyclables” for next week’s crucial third Ashes Test.
There is a conviction among the media that another round of chopping and changing at the selection table was not going to fix things for the troubled Australian team, who have not won any of their last five Tests.
“Australia have gone from the 1948 Invincibles to the 2010 Recyclables after their sack-then-back approach to fast bowlers during this Ashes campaign,” the Sydney Morning Herald said.
Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus have been recalled after being dropped for the second Test and Doug Bollinger, dropped for the first Test, has been axed again after a recall in the previous game.
Former Test paceman Geoff Lawson said the fast bowlers would be unsure of their places and what selectors were thinking.
“I think they’d be very confused — I’m confused,” Lawson told the Herald.
“I think there’s some logical things to do and they haven’t been done. It’s hard to find a rhyme or reason why they do things,” Lawson added.
Another ex-Test paceman Stuart Clark said a major problem facing the Australian bowling unit was the confusion surrounding places in the team.
“I can’t quite work out the logic behind the omission of Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus for the second Test, only to bring them back for the third. And what of Doug Bollinger missing the Perth squad altogether?” Clark told the Herald.
“One of the great strengths of Australian teams of the past was that players who made the grade did so by performing strongly for extended periods in first-class cricket,” Clark told the Sydney Morning Herald. “This no longer appears to be a prerequisite for selection.”