30 December 2010

Age on Ponting's side

I was amazed to read that Peter English believes that Ricky Ponting has played his last Test for Australia. Although it would not be the norm for an Australian ex-captain to continue as a player, if Ponting is sacked as skipper it would be in Australia's best interests to retain him as a player. The fact that Australia's next Test after Sydney isn't until August shouldn't impact that at all - Ponting will still be a few months off 37.

He hasn't scored runs in the Ashes and those wanting to force him out will point out that he's been struggling for a while. By his standards he has - rather than the lofty standards of his career average of 53.5, he averaged 45 I read over the 12 months leading up to the Ashes. If Australia have 6 batsmen who can average 45 in Test cricket and are equally good in the field, both at slip and diving around in the covers, then indeed they should drop him. They don't though!

It would be interesting to think about the Indian batsmen reaching the end of their careers when considering Ponting's position. Laxman is the closest to Ponting's age, although still older, and has just played the match-winning knock against South Africa. Tendulkar was ICC player of the year last year by some distance and has just scored his 50th Test hundred. Only Dravid, who is the oldest and like Tendulkar is closer to 38 than 37, could be described as a qualified success, having struggled a bit with the bat recently but taking a brilliant 200th Test catch in his last match.

The likes of Khawaja need to find their way in Test cricket with the likes of Hussey and Ponting around them - time will tell if the Australian selectors agree. With Ponting only about 3 months older than Hussey it would be a strange decision to have one rule for Ponting and another for Hussey.