Monday, December 27, 2010
Ponting nears the end
At some point in the next two or three days, barring an astounding rearguard batting effort by Australia to match the way England batted at Brisbane a month ago, Australia will lose the fourth Test and fail to regain the Ashes.
If they do not win the final Test in Sydney, which starts on January 3, they will lose the series and Ponting will become the third Australia captain to lose three Ashes contests, the first for more than a century.
It is hard to see him continuing as captain for much longer, although it would be rather late in the day for Australia to get rid of him as one-day captain, with the World Cup starting in mid-February. Ponting will presumably lead Australia into the tournament, where they have not lost a match since the final in 1996, and then stand aside. Bangladesh are Australia's next Test opponents and it would make sense to let a new captain take the team on.
Generally, Australian captains do not stay in the side after handing over command. In the past 40 years, Waugh, Taylor, Border, Greg Chappell and Bill Lawry all retired straight away.
Kim Hughes lasted one Test after resigning as captain before a pair of ducks ended his career. Graeme Yallop stayed for another five years after his seven-Test captaincy reign ended, but he was only ever a stop-gap while Greg Chappell was away making money off Kerry Packer, while Ian Chappell came out of retirement to serve under his brother.
So, it is possible that Ricky Ponting has only a dozen days and three innings left in his distinguished Test career. Mathematically, it would be nice if he only made two more runs, so that his final career aggregate stands for ever at 12,345, but that would be a humiliating end.
As a cricket-lover and someone who respects Ponting as a batsman, I would like him to go out with one more hundred. Maybe even two. Just so long as England go home with the urn.