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Knives out for Ponting

Ricky Ponting's credentials as captain took a beating last week when Australia lost the Test series 2-0 in India.

There is little doubt about Ricky Ponting's place among cricket's greats, but when the Ashes start in Brisbane next month, the Australia captain will be battling the arch-foes not just for the urn but his legacy as well.

Ponting's credentials as captain took a beating last week when Australia lost the Test series 2-0 in India. Those two Tests took their sequence of losses to three, after their defeat by Pakistan at Leeds, England, in July.

The last time an Australia team lost three in a row was in 1988. Allan Border was the captain and the home side were wrecked by a fearsome West Indies pace attack in Brisbane, Perth and Melbourne.

Since those days, and particularly over the past decade, Australia have been at the top of Test cricket. But they have slipped to No 5 in the Test rankings and the knives are out for Ponting.

Shane Warne took the first jab, questioning his field placements for Nathan Hauritz in the Bangalore Test. Geoff Lawson then called for Ponting to stand down as captain.

Ponting has captained Australia in 73 Test matches and won 47 of them. That is impressive, but the fact is he has lost all four series in India and England. No Australia captain since Billy Murdoch in 1890 has lost three Ashes series and if Ponting meets that fate this winter, he will not wait for the selectors to make a decision.

Ponting's value as a batsman to Australia is still considerable. He had three 70s in the last two Tests while Michael Clarke, the captain in waiting, managed just 35 runs in the series. So most fans in Australia will be hoping Ponting gets it right in the Ashes. The country has few other options at present.

arizvi@thenational.ae

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