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Ponting stung by tactic criticism -

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Ponting stung by tactic criticism

The World Today - Thursday, 13 November , 2008 12:50:00

ELEANOR HALL: As cricket tours go, Australia's trip to the subcontinent wasn't a roaring success.
Not only did the world champions lose the trophy, but they returned home to questions about Ricky
Ponting's ability to captain the team.

But at a book launch this morning, the captain defended himself and revealed how much he's been
stung by the criticism.

Simon Santow was there for The World Today.

SIMON SANTOW: When Ricky Ponting left for India his first child, daughter Emmy, was just a few
weeks old. And by his own admission she's been about as friendly to the Australian captain as
cricket commentators have been since Australia surrendered the series in India a few days ago.

RICKY PONTING: I think I am as foreign to her as she is to me at the moment but just to get home
and see the smile on her face and see the smile on Rhianna's face has made things a bit better over
the last couple of days.

SIMON SANTOW: Australia's cricket public has high expectations of its national team. And when that
team found the going tough in India, there were always going to be questions asked.

Ricky Ponting's decision to employ a combination of spinners and part-timers to get through the
overs faster and thereby avoid a fine or a suspension, brought tensions out into the open.

CRICKET COMMENTARY: Well, what has been going on in the last 40 minutes is unbelievable. What is
Ricky Ponting doing?

Ponting is just completely lost the plot it seems to me. I'd love someone to explain what the hell
is going on out there.

SIMON SANTOW: The captain today showed again how the questions have stung.

RICKY PONTING: The fact that some people would come out and say that I put myself above the team
has been the thing that has annoyed me the most to tell the truth.

You know I don't mind people sitting back and saying things about the tactics that I might employ
in a day's play. That is what commentators and commentary is all about but when they would infer
that I would be putting myself ahead of my team and my teammates and the chance of pushing for a
result in a game, that is pretty hurtful.

So that has been probably the hardest thing. As I have said, anybody that knows me and knows the
way that I play my cricket would hopefully say that I'm on the other end of the scale than that.

SIMON SANTOW: In the past cricketers have complained that the game's administrators have been slow
to back the players.

But Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland took the opportunity today to give Ponting some
heartfelt support, in his own diplomatic way.

JAMES SUTHERLAND: One thing I always note, at times of cricketing controversy, is that such passion
and emotion is a sign of the strength of the relationship between this great game and the
Australian public.

An elite cricketer and in particular the captain of the top-ranked side in the world, undertakes
his daily work in front of an audience of millions.

Sometimes a billion or more are picking up the vision from the 25 or so television cameras that are
typically at a cricket ground. Imagine putting up with that scrutiny. Imagine going about your
daily job with an audience that big watching your every move live.

SIMON SANTOW: He says Ponting is already Australia's most successful captain and an unselfish one
at that.

JAMES SUTHERLAND: He is a player who has always put the team first and he has never measured
success by personal statistics. Any suggestion that he put himself first ahead of the team last
week in Nagpur is completely off beam and can only come from someone who does not know or
understand him.

As a captain he has more than just an outstanding record. His inclusive and instinctive leadership
style sees him held in the highest regard by his teammates.

SIMON SANTOW: Retired Test spinner Stuart MacGill played under Ponting and believes key tactical
decisions are made by more than one person.

STUART MACGILL: One of the things that is really upset me, not just on the recent tour of India but
over the last sort of 18 months, two years, is that everybody knows that the captain is the focal
point, you know, for the team as far as media and it is appropriate for a captain to take
responsibility for the behaviour and performance of his team, but that doesn't mean that he is
completely to blame for it.

Let's not forget that in this instance, the drama has all unfolded because of the over rates. Now,
Rick is not a bowler and I know, you know, being a bowler, we have been guilty of having slow over
rates for quite some time.

I think, you know, the entire team has, you know, vocalised the fact that they all accept
responsibility for this issue.

ELEANOR HALL: That is former Australian test player Stuart Macgill ending that report from Simon