Ponting admits weakness in bowling department

June 5th, 2008 - 10:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, June 5 (IANS) After enduring a painful summer in which India challenged their status as cricket’s super power and then West Indies rubbing it off in the ongoing series, Ricky Ponting has finally admitted that their bowling has taken a step backwards post the Glenn McGrath-Shane Warne era. A gruelling draw in the second Test in Antigua Tuesday where West Indies, set to chase 372 runs on the fifth day, batted resolutely to thwart Australia a win prompted Ponting to say that his bowling attack had “come back to the pack a little bit in Test cricket” since the retirements of McGrath and Warne.

That is a massive concession for Ponting, who never shows any outward signs of weakness that might give an edge to opponents. At the start of the home series against Sri Lanka, the Australian captain boldly declared his new-look side could be “even better” than that of recent summers, with no expected decline as generational change took effect. Eight Tests later, those forecasts have been adjusted.

“We have got Brett (Lee) and Stuart (Clark), who are outstanding Test bowlers, and we’ve got Mitchell Johnson, who is a work in progress, and we could very well have a young spinner the next game,” Ponting was quoted as saying in the Sydney Morning Herald Thursday.

“It certainly is a challenge when you have not got some of the other guys who have been around. More importantly, it’s a challenge for the bowlers to stand up and make a name for themselves as very good Test bowlers. I think Brett’s done a very good job of standing up in Glenn’s absence over the last 12 months and will continue to lead the attack well. The next spinner is the interesting one for me. We’ll see how that pans out,” he said.

Ponting barely concealed his disappointment at his side’s inability to claim victory in Antigua after Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul batted for the majority of the fifth day for a fourth-wicket stand of 143 runs and his bowlers were unable to close out the match in the manner expected of recent Australian sides.

“We could have done better. Stuart MacGill was someone we were going to need to take wickets if we were going to win the game, and we didn’t get the wickets from him,” Ponting said.

“I do not have any concern with Johnson. We’re probably going to look at Stuart Clark opening the bowling more often than not now, for a number of reasons, like in these sorts of conditions. Johnson is a great athlete, and generally he will do what I ask of him. I think Michael Clarke and Symonds at times in this game have done a reasonable job as well and they’re guys that I’m probably going to have to call a little bit more on now, with Shane and Glenn not being around now.”

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