Ricky Ponting’s 16 runs weren’t much of a contribution to his team’s total, and we’re as sceptical as the next person of his contribution as captain in the field. However, his return to the Australian team has brought about an instant change in fortune. Yesterday’s 301 runs and successful defence of that total is a return of the Australia we all know and fear.
No doubt having Punter back in the team made a big difference. His experience and comptitiveness would have inspired the rest of the team. However, I think the biggest impact of cancelling his gardening leave was that it showed that everyone was taking the game seriously. That they wanted to win, not just to avoid losing, which really seemed to be the case in Friday’s wishy-washy effort.
Only 1-2 down now and the odds of an Australian boil over have shortened. Winning 3 in a row is a challenge for any team. 2 in row? Even money according to the bettors.
So Ponting wants to a replay before he’ll accept Haddin is a cheat. He must be pissed that the issue of integrity has come up again, second year in a row. Well the replays have been available for hours now. Haddin himself is taking the high-stakes option of turning the attack onto Vettori.
Haddin said of the incident “This game is gone and we move onto the next one.” There are some however that think that Ronchi could be playing the next one. Well, there are five days before the next match; plenty of time to consider that issue. It bears recalling however, that the last time something similar occurred – Greg Dyer’s catch that wasn’t, of course – led to Healy getting his big chance. The subtle difference however is that NZ won this game, in spite of.
Last day of the Aus–SA series: 314 runs required, 8 (or so) wickets in hand. Nice!
In one of those rare moments in my life I am hoping for an Australian win. That way I get to enjoy both Australia losing the series and South Africa suffering a turn-around defeat. How cynical of me.
Mostly though, I want Australia to win because Ponting’s declaration was so sporting. It was aggressive, but also risky. It put a big premium on winning the test over drawing it, even at the risk of being whitewashed. It also puts the onus on him to get a winning performance out of his bowlers and fielders. Great stuff. Just the sort of attitude we want to see in Australians.