Ponting has still an "incredible amount" to offer

Updated: Mar 25, 2011, 23:25 PM IST

Embattled Australian captain Ricky Ponting got some much-needed support from former team coach John Buchanan who said the two-time World Cup winning skipper still has an "incredible amount" to offer Australian cricket.

Buchanan, who was coach of the Australian team in the 2003 and 2007 World Cup, said Ponting, who responded to the criticism with a fighting hundred in the quarterfinal loss to India last night, needed better support at the top level.

"Ricky still has an incredible amount to offer Australian cricket, but at the same stage he has to be in the right frame of mind to do that," Buchanan told `ABC Online`.

"I think for the last 18 months or so that hasn`t been the case because he has, in a sense, tried to take on too much responsibility for the whole team - his game play as well as his all-round leadership.

"I`m disappointed at other people around him, basically people in senior formal leadership roles, who have allowed him to do that. And I think that has contributed to making life very difficult for him in the role," he added.

Buchanan said Ponting had been let down by the top leadership of Australian cricket.

"Better leadership from other people around him might have guided him in a slightly different direction. I will leave it to people to interpret a little bit, but I will just say people in other formal leadership roles in and around the team," he said.

"Ponting`s job was to captain and lead by example, rather than build a side, its culture and selection matters. That is what we saw last night.

He was able to have his energies directed to one game ... so all the thinking about how you are going to develop a side and build a culture and selections here and selections there, were irrelevant," he added.

"I think therefore there is a range of other people who relied on him to do more of the other work - building a team, building a culture, looking at selection - which are things that he has carried and felt very personally involved with, but I think are much bigger than he anticipated and that he should not have been allowed to burden himself with."

But the media clamor for Ponting`s removal grew with `The Herald Sun` stating that some soul-searching is needed urgently to save the game.

"Heads will roll as a consequence of Australia`s premature World Cup demise. But Australian cricket fans should not call for the tissues.

"The pain may be too raw this morning to appreciate it but this loss may prove a good thing because it gives the four-man team conducting a review into Australian cricket carte blanche to take strong action to correct our nation`s ailing cricket set-up," the newspaper`s cricket writer Robert Craddock wrote.

The newspaper said Australia stopped producing class players long back.

"Had Australia won the World Cup there would have been a temptation to think our nation is still a world cricket pace setter. It`s not. Quite mysteriously, its production line has stopped producing top international players.

"Ricky Ponting`s century against India may have saved his Test future because it showed that if he is prepared to defer to the ageing process and shed some of the extravagance of his pomp he can still be a force at the highest level. But facing Yuvraj Singh`s plodding finger spin is one thing – having South Africa`s Dale Steyn work you over a few months later bowling 145kph outswing is quite another," he added.

The daily said Ponting should immediately consider retiring from at least the one-day arena.

"Even if Ponting bats on at Test level - and that is very much open to debate - his 50-over career should be over. If Ponting is chosen to lead the 50-over tour to Bangladesh next month then Australia`s selectors have picked the wrong team.

"Common sense must prevail here. Ponting`s decorated one-day career, which had an appropriately memorable finish, has run its course," it said.

The newspaper also called for sacking of Australian selection chairman Andrew Hilditch.

"Just the sheer folly of trying to win a World Cup with three hit-or-miss fast bowlers says enough of Australia`s flawed selection tactics.

"Where was Steve Smith on a turning wicket against India? Why was over-rated Cameron White an automatic selection? There is something not right about the way Australia picks teams.

The action may be over for Australia but the drama is just beginning."