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Ricky Ponting could be on his way out after World Cup exit

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Ricky Ponting may look to now step aside, but boy what a career this great man has hadAustralian Captain, Ricky Ponting is liable to see an end to his reign as One Day Captain following his sides exit from this year’s World Cup.

Speaking at a press conference following his return to Australia, Ponting said that he will do as he always done and “put the team before me” as he contemplates his future. In defence of claims that he will retire after the World Cup, the 36 year old revealed, “I still think I have a lot to offer as a player and a leader.”

The question is whether Ponting can lead best as Captain or as the experienced veteran offering advice to a new, younger Captain? Many had labelled him as being ‘past his best’ but he showed last week against India that he still has the ability to get runs at the highest level. He is without doubt one of the best batsmen to have played the game in recent years, his achievements only bettered by the feats of the master; Sachin Tendulkar.

If he relinquishes the Captaincy and concentrates on his batting, then there’s nothing to stop him recapturing his old form and going on to score thousands of more runs for Australia. Being relieved of the pressure of leading his country could rekindle the fire with regard to Ponting’s career which over the last year or so, has looked as if it was coming to an end.

Being Captain of Australia is much more than just on-field leadership. The Australian Press are hugely expectant of their cricketers and when it comes to failure, as shown in last winter’s Ashes loss, they are quick to single out their reasons for any short comings, one of which has often been Ponting.

Ponting has never been a quitter: that much is for certain. He could have stepped down at many different points over his career as Captain. For example, many pundits were calling for his head after the 2005 Ashes loss, especially as during the series, he appeared to lose his head after being run out by a substitute fielder.

Ponting has always wore his heart on his sleeve and this may be what has kept him in the job for such a long time, added the relatively easy job he had when he first took over the job from Steve Waugh in 2003.

However, there’s an argument that the decline of Australian cricket is linked to the decline of Ponting’s captaincy. Ponting may have implied that this current team, lacking the talents of Warne, McGrath and Gilchrist to name a few, is more like his own team but it would appear that he doesn’t really know what his best team is these days. Inconsistent selection during the Ashes didn’t help his team’s efforts to win back the urn and his Captaincy did often come under criticism during the series. Interesting selections have also been made this World Cup too, namely the picking of ‘Mr Cricket’, Mike Hussey who looked horribly out of form in all his innings.

Mike Hussey could have been one of the candidates for Ponting’s successor had he been offered the job earlier in his career, but the lack of candidates for the job has perhaps been the overriding factor in Ponting keeping the reigns for so long. Michael Clarke would be the obvious choice as Captain, being younger and he has already skippered his country when Ponting has been injured. The problem for the Australian selectors is that Clarke has really failed to stamp his authority on the situation and show them that he deserves the Captaincy. Shane Watson has been dubbed by many as the next Captain but whilst he is a top class opening batter, he doesn’t appear to be your typical Australian leader.

Australia must now look to the future. Ponting certainly has something to offer them for a while yet, but this could possibly be purely from a playing perspective. If the men from down under are to develop their cricket and attempt to reach their previous status as the best team in the world then they need a new leader to move the team on.

Australia has a lot of talent in the form of Mitchell Johnson and Steve Smith and a new leader could inspire these players onto bigger and better things. For me, the best choice to take over from Ponting is wicket-keeper Brad Haddin who’s now cemented his place in both, the Test, and the One Day team. He has realised his potential as a top class, international batter, especially in one day cricket, and he seems to have that x-factor which would demand respect from other players.

A decision is supposed to be made over the next few days about Ponting’s future and a new Captain would surely be appointed soon after, providing the selectors or Ponting terminate his Captaincy.

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