Don't Shunt Punter Just Yet: Ricky Ponting Still the Man for the Job

David HockingContributor IJanuary 11, 2009

Just ask Matthew Hayden, the selection sharks are circling around the Australian test team. The first series loss on home soil in 17 years and the inevitable loss of world number one status has caused certain media outlets to open fire on the 39 year old opener, calling for his axing from the team.

However, it is not just Hayden who has come under fire recently. During the recent tour of India, Ricky Ponting was accused of being selfish and not putting the team first in an incident where he bowled part-time bowlers in an attempt to boost the over rate, saving himself possible suspension.


This was the first time in almost five years of captaincy that Ponting's loyalties had been questioned and it was unfamiliar territory for the seemingly infallible skipper and little did he know that there was even greater speculation to come.


The rebuilding phase of Australian cricket has begun, whether we like it or not, and that must beg the question as to how long Ponting will remain captain of the Australian test team.


At age 34 and with a record of 36 wins from 53 test matches it would seem that time is definitely on his side. However with three wins from the last nine tests, Ponting may be dreading the next few years and life without the likes of Warne, McGrath, Langer, and Hayden.


Fortunately for "Punter," his batting form has not followed his teams recent poor performances and he is still averaging a stunning 63.2 since taking over as captain in 2004.


Keeping this in mind, it seems the only things that could stop him from leading the squad to the 2011 ashes series would be retirement or his troublesome back.


There is no doubt the next few years of cricket will be tough on Australian supporters and also the players. After over a decade of world domination, being second best, or worse, will be hard to swallow for many fans. This means that both the players and the captain will be under mounting pressure in the coming months and this is the major reason why an experienced leader is required to aptly deal with the extra scrutiny.


The only question that isn't being asked about the test squad at the moment is who the next captain will be. Presently, there is only one logical choice, the charismatic Michael Clarke.


At age 27, the 2005 Alan Boarder medallist's onfield maturity exceeds his age and he has already been given a greater responsibility. "Pup" has captained Australia in five one-day internationals and two T20 matches, with a perfect winning record. With the rest of Australia's batsmen in their mid 30s Clarke will be the man to lead the team into the next decade and beyond, however there is still a huge amount for him to learn before eventually taking the reigns from Ricky Ponting.