Bangalore: Former Indian wicketkeeper-batsman Nayan Mongia, who has played against deposed Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting, believes that the Australian skipper's ouster was on the cards after a string of poor performances by his team and his own patchy form with the bat.
Mongia, who insisted that Ponting was never a great captain, however felt that the skipper was perhaps the best batsman he had played against.
“Ponting was certainly one of the best batsmen I have played against but he was never a great captain and the credit of making Australia the top team in the world should go to Allan Border, Geoff Marsh and Steve Waugh. By the time Ponting took over, the Aussies were already on top of the world and Ponting’s job was just to marshal the rich resources. So in my opinion, he was never a great captain,” Mongia told Cricketnext.com on Monday.
“Moreover, Cricket Australia is known to take tough decisions irrespective of the players’ past records and I think the recent performances of the team under Ponting and his own patchy performances prompted the Aussie selectors to drop him and repose faith in Michael Clarke, who will have his work cut out to rebuild this struggling team," he added.
"However, I will not be surprised if Ponting makes a comeback as a player as he is a real fighter though it would be a tough task for him to come back as the captain of the team. The theory that a captain can only be as good as the team has been proved once again because when the real match winners like Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Adam Gilchrist, Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden were around the team was winning from impossible positions but once they all left the scene the world champions are found struggling even against a team like New Zealand," Mongia observed.
"Cricket Australia’s success theory has always been 'perform or perish' and as far as they are concerned no player is indispensable. Today the selectors may be saying that he and Mike Hussey are rested with the intention of keeping them fresh for the South African tour but will they replace Clarke as skipper if he leads the team to a 4-1 win in the on-going series, I think it is highly unlikely," wondered Mongia.
"I personally think that the selectors have put the onus back on Ponting by making it very clear that he is welcome back as a player despite his string of poor performances but not as a captain," the former India stumper added.
"Moreover, Clarke has been groomed as the future captain and the selectors feel this would be the right time for the youngster to prove his mettle as the leader of the team. Whether Clarke will be able to motivate the inexperienced but talented team is to be seen but I think the Aussie selectors have sent a strong signal to the rest of the team as well by dropping Ponting for the rest of the series," Mongia pointed out.
"One thing is very clear that Ponting failed to motivate the new batch of players and also that the other teams like India, South Africa and New Zealand have improved their standard immensely. And the Aussie selectors think that it is the right time to weed out the old and ring in the new players," he added.
Former Indian skipper and coach Ajit Wadekar agreeing with Mongia’s observations said Ponting’s handling of the team in the recent past and his own rush of blood which has resulted in his dismissals when his team needed his services the most must have prompted the Aussie selectors to sack him from the captaincy and rest him for the rest of the series against New Zealand.
"I suppose he had it (sacking) coming as his captaincy was found wanting on many occasions in the recent past while his own batting has not been up to the high standards he had set earlier. At times his dismissals were bordering to irresponsibility and even his run out yesterday in the first One-Dayer was pathetic to say the least," Wadekar said.
"I personally think the Aussie selectors have done the right thing by dropping him for the rest of the series. Though he is still rated as one of the best batsmen in the world and can make a comeback as a batsman, I am not too sure if he will be given the responsibility of leading the side especially if Clarke manages to win the rest of the matches in the five-match series," he added.