Ponting faces axe after World Cup exit

Australian captain Ricky Ponting, seen here during the loss to India, said he would be continuing as an international cricketer despite the champions’ exit from the World Cup at the hands of India on Thursday.

Melbourne: Mar 25, 2011

Ricky Ponting has subdued calls for his dumping as captain with a stoic overdue century despite Australia making their earliest exit from a World Cup in almost two decades, newspapers said.

Under-fire Ponting made 104 — his first international hundred in 13 months — in Australia’s total of 260 for six, but it wasn’t enough as India finished on 261 for five to win their quarter-final in Ahmedabad Thursday with 14 balls to spare.

Ponting has now presided over the end of Australia’s 12-year run as World Cup champions after his third Ashes series defeat to England earlier this year.

Although the Australian cricket public still want Ponting, 36, to go as skipper — 65 to 35 percent in one newspaper poll of 10,000 fans — he looks to have bought himself more time in the job, the press said.

“Ricky Ponting’s spot in the Australian cricket team is safe for now but his side’s glorious World Cup era is over after losing their quarter-final to India,” the Daily Telegraph said.

ABC commentator Glenn Mitchell pondered: “The question still remains as to how many more times will he don the coloured uniform of his country. But he can rest in the knowledge that his last World Cup innings was one to be savoured.”

The Herald-Sun’s Jon Anderson said Ponting’s gritty knock only further clouded the issue of the captaincy. “Ricky Ponting’s career-saving century has done nothing but make what are already cloudy waters in Australian cricket even murkier,” he said.

“The reality is Ponting did what most great batsmen will do if they are given enough chances. The pity is he can no longer do it as regularly as he once did.”

Although hailing Ponting’s innings, cricket fans predominately wanted him to lose the captaincy. One fan said on the ABC web site: “Very gutsy innings by Ponting. Shut a few of his critics up … I would still prefer to see him move on, but it will be harder for selectors to axe him after a 100.”

Another agreed:”It’s now time for Ricky Ponting to relinquish the captaincy. If pride or prestige of being captain is an issue then I believe it is time for the selectors to make this decision for the good of the team. A captain who has tantrums on and off the field is not fit to captain, and that is what Ricky did during this World Cup Series.”

Ponting, who has been captain for nine years, was under pressure even before the World Cup after the Ashes debacle early this year.

He did himself few favours in India, taking a reprimand from the International Cricket Council after smashing a dressing-room TV in a fit of fury after being run out during Australia’s win over Zimbabwe.

AFP