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Ponting's axing is beginning of an end

AFP
Feb 20, 2012 at 01:10pm IST

Sydney: Former captain Ricky Ponting's one-day international career appeared over after he was dropped from Australia's ODI team for the tri-series against India and Sri Lanka.

Chief selector John Inverarity on Monday said Ponting, the second all-time leading run-scorer in ODIs, was axed because of his poor batting form.

Ponting, 37, said earlier that he wanted to battle through his current slump after scoring just 18 runs in five knocks in the tri-series for a meagre average of 3.60. But Inverarity, while praising Ponting's contribution over a glittering 17-year ODI career, seemed to shut the door on any future for the veteran player in Australia's one-day side.

Ponting's axing is beginning of an end

Questions mounted over Ponting's future in ODIs following his lean run in the tri-series.

"The team will not seem the same without him, but moving on from the omission of players who have been outstanding over a long period of time is the nature of elite sport," Inverarity said.

The selectors dumped Ponting as they announced a 13-man squad with all-rounder Shane Watson returning for Australia's next two tri-series ODIs, against Sri Lanka in Hobart on Friday and India in Sydney next Sunday.

Questions had mounted over Ponting's future in Australia's ODI team following his lean run in the tri-series, where he has failed to reach double figures in any of his innings. His sacking came a day after he led Australia to a crushing 110-run win over India in Brisbane as stand-in for injured regular skipper Michael Clarke.

Ponting said after Sunday's victory that he had no intention of seeking a break to freshen up after his poor tri-series run. "It's fair to say I've struggled in the first five games," Ponting told reporters."(But) at the end of the day, I'm available for selection for Hobart's game (against Sri Lanka on Friday).

"I'm not going to put my hand up and say I want a break, because when you are going through a lean trot like I've had the last couple of games, you want to turn that around."

Clarke will return from a strained hamstring to again take over the Australia captaincy in the tri-series, with Watson as his deputy.

Ponting ranks second only to India's Sachin Tendulkar with most ODI runs (13,704) from 375 matches, while he has also played 162 Tests. But selectors signalled that time was up after his dismal run of late.

"Ricky Ponting has been dropped from the squad due to his lack of form in the five tri-series matches to date," Inverarity said in announcing the squad. "Ricky's record speaks for itself," he said. "He is one of the truly great performers in the history of Australian ODI cricket, with his reputation enhanced further by him captaining Australia to two World Cup victories."

Inverarity said that Ponting's contribution to the Australia ODI team went far beyond his batting statistics and brilliant fielding. "The example he sets in every respect and his extraordinarily positive influence in the dressing-room is acknowledged by all," he said, while hailing Ponting's "selfless" willingness to stand in for Clarke recently.

Ponting's sacking comes less than a month after his dominant role in Australia's 4-0 clean sweep of the home Test series against India. He was second for most series runs only to Clarke, scoring 544 at 108.80 with two centuries and three half-centuries.

Ponting is still considered an obvious selection in the Australia side for the coming Test series in the West Indies in April, although he is now likely to miss the five ODIs that precede the Test series.

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