Akhtar says ‘fading’ Oz World Cup team has lost ‘its aura of invincibility’

March 19th, 2011 - 1:58 pm ICT by ANI  

Shoaib Akhtar Colombo, Mar 18(ANI): Ahead of the crucial Pakistan-Australia World Cup game, fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar has said that the current Ricky Ponting-led side is a shadow of the ruthless sides that dismantled opponents in the past two World Cups.

Akhtar believes that Ponting himself is buckling under the pressure of attempting to return Australian cricket to its former glories.

“Australia are struggling and their level has dropped. They can do damage, but they aren’t feared like they used to be. They’re a very good side, but comparing their (past) talent to this talent, their past talent was far bigger and far greater and obviously they have seen the consequences,” Fox Sports quoted Akhtar, as saying.

“No disrespect to this team, but you can’t compare (Steve) Smith to Warne, you can’t compare (Brad) Haddin to Hayden. Those great teams were impossible to beat, but now this team is struggling, we’ve seen that with the Ashes loss and the last three or four years.”

“They are not the same side, Ricky Ponting makes a difference, he is one of the greatest players we’ve seen, but he can’t do it all himself,” he added.

The 35-year-old further reckons that Ponting can bat on until the 2013 Ashes if he eases the strain by handing the captaincy to Michael Clarke after the World Cup.

“I believe Ricky has two more years, but only if he steps down as captain. I do believe he is muddling himself as a captain and his performances are being affected. It’s not working for him,” Akhtar said.

“He led such a great side, which made it easier for him, but now he is struggling to lead the side and concentrate on batting well. He should just play his part as a player, he would be much better off without the captaincy. When you look at his greatness, they (the critics) deserve to say nothing to Ponting,” he added. (ANI)

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