Ponting faces leadership skill test as champion team Australia enters rebuilding phase

January 18th, 2009 - 5:06 pm ICT by ANI  

Melbourne, Jan.18 (ANI): Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting faces the daunting prospect of displaying not only his expertise with the bat, but also his leadership skills, as the team enters a rebuilding phase in the wake of stalwarts and proven performers retiring over the last two years.
While experts acknowledge that it was the squad that swept Australia to its most emphatic Ashes series victory in 86 years, they now say that the all-conquering class of 2007 is a tattered relic and leaves Ricky Ponting facing the possibility of back-to-back losses on English soil.
Of the 2007 squad that completed a whitewash in the fifth Test in Sydney, just four players - Ponting, Michael Hussey, Michael Clarke and Brett Lee - are probable starters for the 2009 Ashes. According to the Daily Telegraph, Ponting has lost five world-class players in 24 months - Adam Gilchrist, Justin Langer, Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne and Matthew Hayden.
Collectively, they played a staggering 573 Tests.
A return series in South Africa is where Australia could lose its No.1 Test ranking. But losing to England would be the ultimate ignominy for cricket fans, reports the paper.
As Australia begin a critical rebuilding period, former Test batsman Darren Lehmann said Ponting needed to show more leadership steel than ever to steer a new-look squad to Ashes success.
Lehmann believes an England team buoyed by the retirement of Hayden would not overawe Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus and Doug Bollinger.
“Ricky becomes very important for the (Ashes) series, not only for his batting but for his leadership,”” said Lehmann, who played 27 Tests between 1998-2004.
“We”ve lost a lot of great players but this is a chance for the latest crop of guys to create a new aura about them. That’’s the thing I”m excited about, let’’s show faith in them and see how they go. The key is that playing in England won”t be too daunting. A lot of our guys have played there, the younger guys have been over before playing county cricket or in the local leagues - that’’s not too much of a worry anymore,”” Lehmann said
Former Test quick Damien Fleming said Australia had nothing to fear despite the exodus of several greats.
“You don”t replace the likes of McGrath, Warne and Hayden, but this is a great opportunity for the new generation. I”d like to see the selectors take a chance or two - one guy who must tour is Ben Hilfenhaus. We haven”t seen him at Test level yet, but he swings the ball and has some nice variety,”” Fleming said. (ANI)

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