Can you imagine how difficult it is to be Ricky Ponting today? For years he has cruised around the outfield marshalling Shane Warne and Glenn MacGrath, Brett Lee and Stuart MacGill. When they had finished embarrassing world batsmen Ricky could have a bat with Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer. He could watch and grin as Damian Martyn and Adam Gilchrist made the opposition bowlers wince. What does Ricky have now? Memories are about all – a side without a bowling attack. A side whose batsmen are already nervous of facing the English attack tomorrow. A side where the team talk for tomorrow is ‘go to bed and think of rain’.
However meagre the resources sure the captain’s job is to get the most out of them. Two of Ricky’s decisions in the current test staggered me.
Firstly, before lunch on the second day England had reached 80-1 and the Australian attack bowled wide of off stump. This was a plan: a negative confining plan; a plan to stop England scoring. There are times and places for this sort of thing and 80-1 with ball less than 20 overs old is definitely not one of them. Ricky hadn’t even tried his spinner at this point – what sort of a message does it send to Doherty?
England came out to bat after lunch on the third day in a very strong position. Petersen and Collingwood looked good. The forty minute break will have disturbed the batsmen’s concentration so it is vital Aussies have an attacking blast before settling back to containment. Who does Ricky choose to bowl: Shane Watson and Marcus North! Bowlers Ricky had such faith in he didn’t even let them have a bowl in the morning session.
Tough times for Ricky – I wonder how his batting will hold up…