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The end of the Ponting era?

So Australia’s dominant World Cup Era is over, and we’ve been shafted from the tournament in the quarter-finals by hosts and favourites India. But what does this really mean for Australian cricket? Is this the final nail in the coffin for this dominant group? If not, should it be? And most importantly, where does this leave skipper Ricky Ponting, who’s fighting hundred gave the side a chance? Is this his end……

So if you’ve been following the World Cup (all three of you), y0u would know that India and Pakistan are in to the semi-finals, with South Africa, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and England still to play their quarter-finals. But really, with the Aussies put out of their misery overnight, does anyone reading this now care? The main issue for us is what this tournament can do for Australian cricket.

Firstly, the dominant era of Australian cricket has been and gone. If the home Ashes loss wasn’t enough, this World Cup display is. Whilst some people remained hopeful of a resurgence after Australia’s impressive series win over South Africa in 2009, the home and away Ashes losses, and sparodic successes since have finally shown that there needs to be a line drawn in the sand, and we need to move on. In saying that, there is no reason Australia should not be going into each series from now on expecting and believing they can win, but at the same time there needs to be a common sense approach (laughable I know for Cricket Australia), to how we move on. This approach starts with the captain.

In my opinion, Ricky needs to be given a tip. He has been a great servant to the game, a ‘good’ captain, and most importantly the best Australian batsman of this era. He has every right to decide when he should leave the game, but by the same token, he needs to put his ego aside and leave realtively close to the top. Effectively he has won and lost everything in the game and has nothing more to prove to anyone. Aside from that, it is the best time for Australian cricket to let him go. It may involve Michael Clarke becoming captain (shudder!), but if that is the case then so be it.

A World Cup seems to be the perfect place to end a career, providing the longest possible time for re-growth and ensuring we can go as close as possible to wining, if not win, the World Cup on home soil. I think this tournament, his great hundred in against India aside, showed us why he needs to leave now and not let his ego get the better of him, possibly ruining what has been a masterful career. Warnie showed the way to leave best, leaving when he probably could have battled on for a little while, but on his terms and on the back of ticking all the boxes in his career, including winning back the Ashes. Ponting has already done this, and should he leave now he will be remembered partly as the person who lost back-to-back Ashes for the first time in a long time, but mainly as the best Australian batsman since Allan Border, or possibly even Greg Chappell.

Whilst his performances this World Cup were ok, it was his leadership and temper which show where he is at the most. With the failures in the home summer, this World Cup was Ponting’s last real chance at redemption. Whilst the incident alledgedly involving his box and at TV after being run-out against Zimbabwe showed how much the situation was getting to him, it was the on-field blow-up with Steve Smith which clearly showed the world that the end is nigh for Punter. If he was in the right mindset, and the Aussies were doing well, that incident would have been lightly laughed off, and Ponting throw the ball up in celebration with a smile on his face. Instead he was left scowling at a youngster, a look which left a bitter taste throughout mouths across Australia (even if nobody was watching it live!).

If Australia uses this next Australia A tour to South Africa and Zimbabwe correctly, then we can have a successful team with a real leader within months, but if they let an angry and resentful Ponting lead the country until he’s won back everything he lost, we’re in for a long stretch of off-spinners and slow left arm spinners who average more than 5o in Shield cricket.

And that is The Final Word.

So thats what I think, but let us know what you think. Should Ponting go, or was his century against India enough to keep him around for a little while longer? Leave a comment below, email us at whosplayingwho@gmail.com, or leave a post on our Facebook page – www.facebook.com/whosplayingwho.

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