Ponting, Haddin’s future hangs in balance

Sydney/Johannesburg: The Australia-South Africa Test series has ended with a one all score line, and now the new selection committee headed by John Inverarity has the onerous task of deciding on the futures of star batsman Ricky Ponting and wicketkeeper-batsman Brad Haddin.

Both Ponting and Haddin have under performed, and talk is gaining ground that both will arrive back in Australia having possibly worn the baggy green for the last time.

The Inverarity panel has to now deliberate over which direction Australia takes ahead of the series against New Zealand and India, starting with the Brisbane Test to be played from next Thursday, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

Inverarity and company must decide whether Australia`s recent record, featuring just one victorious series from their past five Test campaigns, is good enough to argue against a swift exit for Ponting and Haddin.

Former chairman of the selection committee, Trevor Hohns, who oversaw the retirements of former Test greats Ian Healy and the Waugh brothers during his 10-year rule, would not publicly comment on individuals, but said it would be “sensible” to avoid having multiple exits at the one time “if it``s planned properly”.

“I don`t want to get into the public debate of whether they should stay or go, it`s up to the selectors, but the ideal is to have a staggered exit if it can be arranged,`` said Hohns, who is currently serving as Queensland`s chairman of selectors.

Haddin faces a nervous few days as his Test fate is decided after an unconvincing series in South Africa. The incumbent wicketkeeper entered Australia`s second innings in Johannesburg with just 147 from his past 10 knocks, at a pitiful average of 14.7, and was savaged last week in the Herald by Healy for his ``substandard`` glove work in South Africa and Sri Lanka.

``The future has to be catered for,`` said Hohns, but ``I qualify it by saying you`ve got to have adequate replacements.”

Wade is averaging above 55 with the bat in the Sheffield Shield and domestic one-day competition and another strong showing this week, for Australia A against New Zealand in Brisbane, could seal Haddin`s fate.

While Inverarity will be the selector on duty at Allan Border Field, former wicketkeeper Rod Marsh, along with Andy Bichel, will also be on hand to cast their judgment.

Should they hand Wade a baggy green, it would cap a stunning rise for the Hobart-born 23-year-old, who was considered the country`s No.3 glove man at the start of the season, but made his international debut last month in South Africa due to an injury to good friend Tim Paine.

Hohns said the current state of Australian cricket was similar to that in the 1980s when the country, still reeling from the simultaneous retirements of Greg Chappell, Rod Marsh and Dennis Lillee, was rocked by a rebel tour that further diminished playing ranks.

But he has seen enough young talent in the Shield this season to be optimistic about the future.

``What I`ve seen so far this year I think the depth is there or coming,`` Hohns said.

He added: ``There is a lot of talent, but it`s young talent. The system that was very successful previously was that the new players coming into our international side had played a lot of Shield cricket and unfortunately there`s a lot of talented players in our interstate competition that haven`t yet played a lot of interstate cricket.``


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