Ponting’s career tinged by Ashes failures

SYDNEY - Ricky Ponting, who quit Tuesday as Australian captain, is the country’s all-time leading Test run-getter yet his magnificent career is overshadowed by three Ashes series losses as captain.

By (AFP)

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Published: Tue 29 Mar 2011, 11:05 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 6:34 PM

Unquestionably one of Australia’s greatest cricketers, he called time on his captaincy of the Test and one-day team but will continue as a player.

After skippering the side in more than 300 Test and one-day matches, and with a run record surpassed only by India’s ‘Little Master’ Sachin Tendulkar, the 36-year-old can lay claim to being regarded as a modern-era great.

But the Ashes failures continue to haunt him.

He said he wanted to be known for more than just being the Australian captain who lost the coveted series three times.

“Hopefully, I’m not only remembered as the guy who lost three Ashes series. There’s lots of other great things I’ve been lucky to be able to be part of as a player throughout my career,” he said Tuesday.

“I would like to think through my playing time I have achieved a whole lot more than that, whether that be as a player or a captain of this side.

“It’s funny how we talk about losing the Ashes three times — but playing in World Cup-winning teams, winning 16 consecutive Test matches, winning 30-odd consecutive World Cup games doesn’t come up very often.

“But that’s the world we live in.”

Tasmanian-born, Ponting has amassed 12,363 runs in 152 Tests at 53.52, and 13,288 runs in 359 one-day internationals.

He has won more Tests as captain with 48 than any other Australian and has the astonishing success rate of almost 72 percent as the country’s one-day leader, winning 164 of his 228 games.

Yet Ponting found himself in the position where he surrendered the team captaincy on the weight of the matches and series he lost.

He oversaw a painful transition in Australian cricket in the wake of several high-profile retirements, including Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer.

But even with those luminaries in the ranks, Ponting, as captain, lost the 2005 Ashes in England, and despite engineering a thumping 5-0 revenge in the ensuing home series in 2006/07, he again lost in 2009 and 2010/11.

The most recent failure was badly received in Australia — it was their first Ashes loss at home for 24 years and followed a series of defeats by Ponting-led teams.

Australia lost a home series against South Africa for the first time in 2008/09 and a two-match series in India in 2010, while Sri Lanka won their one-day series in Australia late last year.

Australia’s Test ranking has slumped to fifth and they are now under pressure to hold on to their top ranking in ODIs after bowing to India in the quarter-finals of the World Cup last week.

Even Ponting’s fighting 104 — his first hundred in 39 international innings across all formats — was not enough to prevent India from knocking the champions out in the Ahmedabad last eight.

Up to their loss to Pakistan in the group stages, he had led his country on a 34-match unbeaten streak at the World Cup stretching back to the 1999 edition.

Ponting, who was captain for nine years after taking over from Steve Waugh, will also be remembered for his bad temper, seen most recently at the World Cup.

There, he was reprimanded by the International Cricket Council after smashing a dressing-room TV in a fit of fury after being run out during Australia’s win over Zimbabwe.

He was also criticised for angrily throwing the ball to the ground after colliding with team-mate Steven Smith during their victory against Canada, and for failing to walk in the defeat by Pakistan.

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