Greats flay Ponting, CA seeks explanation

Cricket Australia is far from amused and CA Chief Executive James Sutherland said the board would seek an explanation from Ponting.

updated: November 14, 2008 15:58 IST
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Handed down an emphatic defeat by India, Australian captain Ricky Ponting was on the mat on Monday with country's cricket establishment asking him to explain his tactics in the Nagpur Test and the media asking him to "hang his head in shame".

In a bid to speed up Australia's sluggish over-rate - which could have earned him a one Test ban - Ponting rested his regular bowlers in Sunday's final session and operated mostly with the part-timers. Ponting's ploy to escape the ban let India off the hook after the hosts, struggling at 166 for six at one stage, found themselves in a spot of bother.

Cricket Australia is far from amused and CA Chief Executive James Sutherland said the board would seek an explanation from Ponting.

"I haven't had a chance to talk to Ricky today about what went on during the tea break and what the messages were that came from the umpires," Sutherland was quoted as saying by the Australian Associated Press (AAP).

"I'd like to understand the situation, I'm not going to stand here and make comment about a situation without having a full understanding of what actually the circumstances were," Sutherland added.

The CA chief said he would talk to the International Cricket Council about the slow over-rate issue.

"In a broad sense, I have major concerns about over rates in international cricket. Generally speaking, the public deserves more by way of over rates and that's certainly something we'll be taking up with the ICC."

Sutherland, however, ruled out any sanction against Ponting. "I don't think that's going to happen," he said. Ponting also drew flak from the media and former greats for his "selfish" ploy to escape a ban for the first Test against New Zealand. 'Herald Sun', a daily, said Ponting should hang his head in shame for thinking of saving himself first.

"Ponting had every reason to hang his head in shame after allowing India to escape the noose in the crunch fourth Test.

"In his most embarrassing moment in his 48th Test as captain in five years in charge, Ponting opted to worry more about improving Australia's sluggish over-rate than going for broke to try and snare a must-win match when a result was clearly on the line.

"Ponting - amazingly - was more concerned about being suspended for next week's first Test against cricketing backwater New Zealand at the Gabba.

"What a joke. With wickets desperately needed, Ponting had to roll the dice and unleash chief strike weapons Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee or Shane Watson immediately after tea," it said.

Former Australia skipper Allan Border, the game's longest serving captain, said Ponting should have attempted to win the match and not worried about his suspension.

"I don't know what to make of all this. They go into the tea break on a high and come out worrying about over rates," Border said.

"They let a golden opportunity slip," he rued. In 'Sydney Morning Herald', noted cricket writer Peter Roebuck too slammed Ponting for sacrificing the country's interest for personal gains.

"In one of the most baffling displays of captaincy seen in the long and proud history of Australian cricket, Ricky Ponting has denied his side a deserved chance of securing a famous victory...There was a match to win. To an almost bizarre degree, Ponting lost the plot," he wrote.