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Pup, the Anointed One, Arise

Ponting did what I never thought he would do.  For a start, he made a century against India last Thursday.  Secondly, today he gave up the captaincy of Australia at all levels.

I have been putting the boot into Ricky recently but credit where credit is due.  He said he wasn’t pushed so I’ll believe him.  He said it was time for a change and that is true.  It must have been a bitter pill to swallow for Ponting but swallow it, he did.  Only time will see if he has a Tendulkar like renaissance that he obviously hopes for.

And now for some World Cup trivia:  When was the last time New Zealand did better than Australia in a World Cup?  (It has happened.  Tip: They made the semis on that occasion, too).

This World Cup is the first time that there have been three teams from the sub continent in the semis.

There is a remote chance that we will have a first time winner.  An unlikely chance that will most likely be extinguished by the time most of you read this.

If New Zealand don’t win, somebody is going to be the third team to win multiple World Cups.

I was away on the week end so I didn’t have the chance to God Bless New Zealand. Whatever happens now, win to lose to SL, they have exceeded expectations and done the cricket world a great service.

The Kiss of Death

Ricky Ponting should be worried about losing to India tonight.  Very worried.  He should be worried about his own form.  He should be worried about his captaincy.  Reading the signs, I would say that he is stressed and worried (I wonder if he still takes Swisse).  But I read yesterday that Ponting has the 100% support of his team mates – so he can stop worrying – his fate is sealed.

We have all seen it many times.  Picture it.  The failing NRL coach under siege.  His team can’t win a game.  The newspapers criticise and speculate.  The board announces that the coach has their full support.  The players do the same.  Invariably, that coach will be sacked within the week (and the team will win their first game under the new coach).

We read in the papers about rumours of a leadership spill in one of the political parties.  The front benchers, back benchers and party power brokers declare undying allegiance to their leader.  The “whip” says the leader is secure.  Within two days, their will be a new leader.

Thursday, 24 March will most likely mark Ricky Ponting’s last match as Australian captain.  His recent performance has not justified his place in the team as batsman or captain.  His recent form has given ammunition to those in power who do want to dispose of Ponting and has diminished his chances of a dignified and self-determined retirement.  Boo hoo.

Ponting and Tendulkar

Tendulkar and Ponting.  Chalk and cheese.  Evergreen and in decline.  Statesman and churlish pratt.  Prince and mongrel.  I trust that you can tell who is who.

When the referral system was first discussed, some said that batsmen would start walking – not by any virtue of their own but because they would be found out anyway, so they might as well walk so as not to appear to be cheats.

It did not take long after its introduction to become clear that the referral system is so flawed that it has had no such effect on modern batsman.  This was well demonstrated by Ponting on Saturday at the World Cup.  He absolutely smashed the ball into the keeper’s gloves.  How Kamran Akmal caught it, I will never know (considering the offerings he has dropped in the past).  Akmal had to move his gloves sharply to the right and even then only got the ball in the end of his webbing.

How the umpire could not see it was an edge, I have no idea.  But he gave it not out.  Ponting resolutely stood his ground.  Thankfully, Pakistan had only squandered one of its referrals and the wrong was duly rectified.  Ponting stood poker faced through the whole thing.  He must have known once it was referred that he would be out.  But he still stood his ground and waited.

As he said, when asked at the press conference, he never walks and nothing will change that.  He is entitled to let the laws of the game play out.  He is correct but it is not a good look.  Not something to admire.  Contrast that to the reaction to Gilchrist when he walked in the semi final of a World Cup long past.  While it nearly led to Gillie’s crucifixion by some of his team mates, he was all but beatified by the rest of the world (especially Dongles).

And we had a serendipitous contrast on Sunday.  In the first over of the match against the Windies, Tendulkar feathered one behind.  He was given not out but walked straight off.  I don’t think he was trying to score points over Ponting (but he did anyway).  It seemed to be a reflex action.  Perhaps the referral was in the back of Tendulkar’s mind – he is not a known walker – not like Gilchrist and Lara.  Whatever, it was a good look.

Postscript:  I see Tim Nielson has billed the quarter final between Australia and India as a “mini final”.  The Australian delusion continues.  He is still an idiot.  Australia will be swept aside on Thursday and one would think that we will be left with four true contenders by the week end: The three sub-continentals and South Africa.  And the ICC rejoices.

The King of Euphemisms

Ricky Ponting has done it again – had a dummy spit.  Just a few weeks ago he put his bat through a TV set.  Yesterday he was churlishly hurling the ball into the ground after a minor collision with Steve Smith.  I was prepared to let this go unpunished until I read the apology.

I was gazing at the news screen in the lift this afternoon and noticed that Ponting had apologised.  I was pressed for time but I needed a laugh, so a quick Google found the apology.

“It wasn’t a great reaction I guess,” he said. “It was something that happened in the heat of the battle.  If it looked bad I apologise for it.”

Let’s break this down.  “Wasn’t a great reaction.”  Stop saying what it was not, Ricky and say what it was.  It was not many things, “great” included.  It was not appropriate behaviour for a national team captain.  It was not acceptable behaviour from a grown up.  I was poor behaviour.

“I guess.”  He guesses.  You should know it Ricky, so just leave that caveat out.

“Battle?”  No need to make the circumstances sound more serious than they really were, Ricky.  How about using the word “game” instead?

“If it looked bad…”  Ricky apologises if you thought it looked bad. Otherwise he doesn’t.  Ricky is going to let others decide if his behaviour looked bad enough for him to apologise.  Deary me.

I have reworded Ponting’s apology for him and will post it on his Facebook wall.

“My reaction was poor.  I let the tension and my personal doubts get the better of me and reacted badly.  I apologise to Steve Smith, who is still young, eager and impressionable.  I apologise to all cricket fans, especially Dongles, for my unacceptable behaviour.”

Consider that Ponting did his nut when there was a happy ending.  Nobody was hurt and he took the jolly catch.  Imagine if he had dropped it.  What would have happened to poor old Steve then?  Presumably, Ponting would not have been holding the ball, so he could not have hurled that.  I cast my mind back to a certain bar room brawl over a decade ago.

Cricket is a non-contact sport but sometimes collisions occur.  Ricky should think of Thommo and Turner, Tugga Waugh and Gillespie, Junior Waugh and Elliot and be grateful he was not hurt.  I don’t know if we should be grateful but them’s the breaks.