London, Aug.19 (ANI): The fifth Ashes Test, which begins at The Oval from tomorrow, will be a defining one for Australia captain Ricky Ponting.
Victory at The Oval will hand Ponting something that is demanded of any Australia captain worth his salt, a series victory over England, in England, reports Fox Sports.
A draw or worse and Ponting will have failed in two attempts to overcome the old enemy – each series with the world’s No.1 team.
That Ponting engineered only the second 5-0 Ashes whitewash in between times will be remembered fondly, but, unfairly, it will be overshadowed by his failings in England.
A stalemate will be enough for Australia to retain the Ashes, but the man they call Punter will have just one outcome in mind: victory.
Ponting’s standing as an all-time batting great is secure, but for a captain who’s leadership qualities constantly come under question, it’s not stretching things to say his legacy is at stake.
“The pressure is on. Your captaincy gets rated on series wins, but also on how we go against the old enemy. It wouldn’t please Ponting to have another series defeat in England on his CV,” says ex-captain Allan Border.
“I’ve said from the start about how much it would mean to me to win here. It’s a chance I’ve been waiting for this whole tour and a chance the whole team has been waiting for,” Ponting adds.
Should Australia lose, Ponting will join Billy Murdoch as the only captains of Australia to lose two Test series in England. It would be an immovable blemish on his record, and grist to the mill for Ponting’s numerous detractors.
“He’s probably not saying too much publicly, but privately it would be burning that he wants to right that wrong. He wants to come away as an Ashes-retaining captain,” Border told Fox Sports.
Pushing 35, this will almost certainly be Ponting’s last tour of England. The Oval might even be his last Test match against the Poms. He’s had a mixed series with the bat and as a tactician, all the while contending with the goading of British media and fans who have not forgotten Ponting’s ill feeling in 2005.
Ponting’s vice-captain and heir apparent, Michael Clarke, has meanwhile been in astonishing form. Probably the player of the series to date, Clarke led by example with two very Ponting-like knocks, backs-against-the-wall centuries, at Lord’s and Edgbaston.
Despite Ponting’s advancing age and Clarke’s obvious leadership potential, Border does not believe The Oval result will have any influence on Ponting’s position as captain of Australia.
“I get the feeling Ponting’s very comfortable with where he’s at, both as a player and as a captain,” said Border, who started Australia’s long-running hold over in England in 1989, and who was an Ashes-winning captain three times.
“Stepping down as captain and continuing as a player doesn’t work in our system. Ricky will know when it’s the right time to hand over the reins,” he adds. (ANI)