A lacklustre Australia maybe on the brink of losing the Ashes urn to England but Ricky Ponting, a superior skipper than his predecessor Steve Waugh, is still the best man to lead the side in Tests, according to former captain Ian Chappell.
Chappell felt the selectors sold Ponting down the river, picking an all-pace attack for the unresponsive pitch at The Oval and blaming Ponting for the debacle would be barking up the wrong tree.
“Not only did they (selectors) handcuff Ponting at The Oval with four pacemen on a palpably dry pitch, but they also, once again, resorted to the failed ploy of expecting part-time spinners to do a specialist task. This is a crime punishable by demotion,” he wrote in his The Daily Telegraph column.
“Good selectors protect the captain from himself on the occasions when he requires that insulation. If Ponting clamoured for an all-seam attack at The Oval the selectors should have been strong enough and wise enough to advise otherwise,” he explained.
Throwing his weight behind the beleaguered skipper, Chappell said, “Ponting has many critics when it comes to his captaincy style. However, those pundits should realise the easy part is sacking a captain. The hard part is to find someone who will do the job more efficiently.
“There is no doubt Ponting is still the best man to captain the Test side and that’s not just because a demotion would risk robbing the side of its best batsman,” he said.
“Now is not the right time for Australia to start thinking about a new captain. What is needed is a selection panel that has the vision to unearth young players with the skill and nerve for the long haul - and the good sense to choose a balanced attack and then let Ponting lead the way.”
Rating Ponting as a better captain than the highly successful Steve Waugh, Chappell said, “Despite results suggesting otherwise, Ponting is a superior captain to his predecessor, Steve Waugh. Ponting never runs out of ideas in the field, whereas Waugh, even with a more experienced and varied attack was often devoid of inspiration on the few occasions when his captaincy was really tested.”
In hindsight, Chappell felt, Australia had lot to learn from the Oval Test debacle.
“In some ways The Oval result is a wake-up call for all those involved in the Australian team. A victory with an unbalanced attack would have led to more selections like this in the future and the search for a specialist spinner would’ve been put on hold once again.
“It has become obvious that Australia need to decide on a frontline spinner and stick with him so the captain will feel secure in the knowledge that he’s going into the game with a balanced attack,” Chappell added.