Former Australian captains back Ponting

December 29th, 2008 - 7:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Melbourne, Dec 29 (IANS) As Australian skipper Ricky Ponting finds himself in firing line of critics due to the team’s listless performance, former captains Bill Lawry, Richie Benaud and Mark Taylor find the attack unjustified. The former captains share the general opinion that captains get the applause when the team succeeds and equally cop the brunt of criticism in defeat.

Benaud said that in the past 15 months, Australia has witnessed the retirements of nine cricketers, of which three were greats on the game. And at a time when the team is going through a transition after having lost some champion players, Ponting should get support more than before.

“During the past 15 months, nine players have retired, three of them greats of the game. Besides the void that obviously was left when Don Bradman retired in 1948, only twice since has there been such an impact from player retirements,” Benaud said.

“In 1963-64, Neil Harvey, Alan Davidson, (Ken) ‘Slasher’ Mackay and I retired. The team needed to be rebuilt and Bob Simpson took over with an attack minus Davo and me. It was extremely difficult on him, in a similar way that Ponting now is without his main strike bowlers,” Benaud was quoted as saying by the Herald Sun.

“And in 1983-84, Greg Chappell, Dennis Lillee and Rod Marsh retired together. That left a huge hole in the Australian team. The same thing is happening now with the retirements of so many quality, experienced players, headed by Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Adam Gilchrist,” he added.

Ponting’s first skipper, Taylor, said: “Criticising an Australian captain in charge of a losing side is something that hasn’t changed since the game started. He is the man most under scrutiny.”

Taylor said that Ponting has won accolades for five years as captain and now when the team has started losing the critics have come out of the woodwork.

“This year he (Ponting) has reacted a lot more instead of doing what he has done best - letting his bat do the talking for him. But there is no real right or wrong way of doing things. You can wear your heart on your sleeve and when you win people criticise you for being arrogant,” he said.

“You do the same but you lose and you are criticised for showing poor body language. All that matters is that you have the respect of the players and you get on with it. You bat as well as you can, lead by example, and don’t worry about the outside criticism.”

Like Ponting, Taylor also enjoyed the fruits of Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath, but towards the end of his stint as a captain in 50 Tests, he too endured repeated changes in the attack as the selectors tried to find a paceman and spinner of the future.

Lawry, himself a victim of a changing and ageing combination, believes Ponting should be allowed some slack.

“I think Australians love winners and for five years they have enjoyed nothing but success in all forms of the game. We have had a great side. But now Ponting has a difficult task. He lost so many good players all at once,” he said.

“It is never easy to win in India and we lost, as usual. But immediately the critics were out for him. He is leading a transition of the Australian team, so the public needs to accept that and be patient. The crucial thing for him is not to lose his own batting form because if he keeps scoring runs it is the best way for Australia to remain competitive during these difficult times,” Lawry added.

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