Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Making Haigh, and punting on Punter

For all cricket correspondents embarking on their 'Australia's fallen empire' piece, here's how it's done, courtesy of Gideon Haigh.

It's a piece filled with lovely, wry lines ('Michael Hussey's average has deflated like a sub-prime asset book') and genuine insight ('This defeat does not mark the end of an era. The era had already ended. And the 13 year green-and-gold age has really been a series of overlapping phases, subtly different, distinguished by key retirements'). Here is real writing.

He also touches on a point that seems to be generally accepted: that Ricky Ponting would retire rather than play under another captain. 

I wonder if that's true. Ponting is still only 34, that glorious late summertime for Test batsmen. The ageless (and for the most part captaincy-free) Tendulkar, and Jacques Kallis apart, he must be the only mid-30 year old with 127 Tests and more than 300 ODIs, and his record as a batsman is exemplary. Within four years, every major landmark aside from Lara's high scores could be his. 

In the hazy way of perception he somehow seems more vital than Michael Vaughan (34), Mohammad Yousuf (34), Rahul Dravid (35), VVS Laxman (34) and the hooded-eyed Kallis (still just 33). Only Chanderpaul, impish as ever at 34, seems to have as much gas in the tank.

Katich is the man most mentioned, and he is just a year Ponting's junior. If Ricky took the Tendulkar/Lara view of the captaincy - a cross you have to bear from time to time - he might live forever in their exalted company. 


4 comments:

David Barry said...

I have no idea why it is so ingrained in the cricket culture of Australia that ex-captains don't play in the national side. It doesn't make any sense to me, and it doesn't happen elsewhere in the world.

I'm just speculating, but I'm guessing that the attitude comes from the unhappy memories of Hughes and Chappell swapping the captaincy in the 1980's, perhaps combined with the dominance that Australia has had from the end of the Border reign through Taylor/Waugh/Ponting. Australia won during this time, so therefore anything that other countries do must be inferior. Picking an ex-captain is tantamount to having an English approach to the game. Etc.

achettup said...

It almost sounds as if Australia are desperately looking for reasons to keep Ponting as skipper, as if he's holding them to ransom. The fact is Ponting is an awful captain and if they are serious about taking the right steps forward they must consider dropping him from the squad rather than keeping him skipper.

12th Man said...

Some people do well as captains. Ganguly's batting record as captain was much better when he was just a member of the team. He held his place after being sacked and performed average as well.

But in Ponting's case, i feel its the captaincy that keeps him going. I think he won't be the same batsman if he is stripped of captaincy. Also, being a captain helps you to hold your place when you are not performing. The moment you are just a member in the side, you can be dropped anytime!

But i agree with you that Lara's and Tendulkar's records are in threat.

The Old Batsman said...

David, I think you've struck the chord; it's the idea that it betrays a weakness that England/India/WI have suffered from. Also it's a bridge they've not had to cross for a long time. All they've had to worry about is when to pension them off.

I don't think there's any doubt that Ponting gets into the best Australian XI as a batsman. It's whether his ego can take the blow. There's that whole 'second most important job in Australia' thing for him to get over too.