Ricky Pointingâ ¦ That someone who has largely been seen in public as a pro-establishment to come out openly in support of Simon Katich does not augur well for Cricket Australia © Getty Images
Ricky Pointingâ ¦ That someone who has largely been seen in public as a pro-establishment to come out openly in support of Simon Katich does not augur well for Cricket Australia © Getty Images

 

By Madan Mohan

 

Action off the field, than on it, has captured the cricketing world’s attention in what has been a tumultuous past few weeks. Players lashing out at their cricket boards and egoistic officials throwing their weight around seem to have become the order of the day. That has kept me busy as a cricket writer, though only one shocking passage of play in the EnglandSri Lanka Test series was really interesting to write about the on-field action.

 

So here we go again, elaborate preface over.

 

Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting on Thursday spoke out openly against the decision not to offer Simon Katich a national contract for 2011-12. He said, “It’s fair to say he didn’t hold back in his press conference and rightly so as well.”

 

On being asked if he meant his comments to be a criticism of the selectors, he said, “You can make of that whatever you like.”

 

My reaction when I read this news item was, in a word, “Wow!” For a current member of the Australian cricket team, that’s plain speaking to say the least.  Even more surprising it is to hear such forthright criticism from Ponting, who is not known to hit hard at the selectors or administration. He has grumbled in recent times on the selection or otherwise of Nathan Hauritz, but I certainly don’t remember Ponting speaking out so openly against an administrative decision.

 

The words further, that one was free to take it as criticism if one so wished suggest a strong sense of disappointment and frustration with selection policies. If it was Indian cricket, gag orders would have been given out before long.

 

Ponting has come across as a bit nasty or grudging in his demeanour to opponents in the past, but generally diplomatic and optimistic to a fault in matters that concern Australian cricket. So, the writing on the wall is as clear as an azure sky of deepest summer: things must have gone seriously wrong somewhere with Australian cricket if Ponting decides to back Katich.  Sure, that is to state the obvious, but it appears that such is not so obvious to the powers that be in Australian cricket.

 

Ponting’s statements also echo the disillusionment and discontent that different players have voiced in the last month. Perhaps, players are unhappy at being vilified and painted as mercenaries where they may feel forced into making hard choices by the policies of the cricket boards.

 

Whatever it be, Ponting’s statement is possibly the last straw in a war of words marked by public support for Katich and harsh criticism from former players. Australian cricket has been in decline for some time now, but the administration was pleased with their mess so far. But things have come to a head and something’s got to give.

 

(Madan Mohan, a 25-year old CA from Mumbai, is passionate about writing, music and cricket. Writing on cricket is like the icing on the cake.)