Australia have been doing it hard this summer and Ricky Ponting, their best batsman and skipper has failed to come to terms with the English bowlers. His underperformance has hurt Australia in a big way. A lot has been said about the Australian bowling but the batting has been one of the major concerns too. The middle order with the exception of Michael Hussey and Brad Haddin has been vulnerable to say the least. Ricky Ponting got a decent half century in the 2nd innings of the gabba test. The problem with Ponting does not seem to be that of form but he seems to be missing the luck factor that Hussey had when the first ball he faced of the Ashes 2010 fell short of slip.
Nevertheless, a player of Ricky Ponting’s stature cannot blame luck for the lack of runs. So far, so good for Australia with both Hussey and Haddin providing consistent performances in the middle order. Perhaps, the pressure of captaining an inexperienced side facing losses, something that Ricky himself never saw before is having its toll on the great man. A loss in the Ashes could mean Ponting could be the first Australian captain to lose the Ashes thrice.
But obviously, having said this, Australia seem to have got out of jail, as Mitchell Johnson, another of Australia’s struggling bowlers getting into the perth test ripped through the heart of the English batting order. Johnson got the in swinger going, reminiscent of perth 2008 where he got 8 for 61 including a spell of 5 for 2.
Either way Johnson’s performance has given Ponting another lease of life. Australia played the cricket we come to expect of them in the back end of the test. Fortunately, for them, they have got the momentum going for them.
If Ricky Ponting has to be replaced as captain the Australians must reconsider long standing vice captain Michael Clarke. The English have managed to get the better of him thus far. Shane Watson might be an option but the hard hitting all rounder may lack the temperament for captaincy. Watson has come a long way as player ever since he took over as opener in the 2009 version of the Ashes. Having said this, Australian board would not want to pressurize the Watto who already has his all round duties and more importantly fitness to worry about.
The only option remaining would be a stop gap captain in Bradley Haddin. Not only is Haddin playing his best cricket but also he has had the experience of captaining his state side, something which Watson lacks. Haddin also has the respect of his players and opponents. Looking at it, a stop gap captain would be better for Australia rather than taking a chance with an inexperienced skipper.
However, all this only comes into the fray if Australia lose the Ashes. The Australian cricket team still need Ricky Ponting the batsman. The last thing they could ill afford is to lose Ponting the player, they still need him for another couple of years to guide the younger players before he decides to call it a day. Nevertheless, 2 crucial tests still remain before this is decided and every Australian member would have nothing on their mind but the tests to come.