Ponting should focus on batting - Wessels

JOHANNESBURG Tue Jan 11, 2011 4:59pm IST

Australia's Ricky Ponting looks on after England's win on the fourth day of the fourth Ashes cricket test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground December 29, 2010. REUTERS/Mick Tsikas/Files

Australia's Ricky Ponting looks on after England's win on the fourth day of the fourth Ashes cricket test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground December 29, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Mick Tsikas/Files

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Ricky Ponting should give up the Australian captaincy and concentrate on his batting, former South Africa skipper Kepler Wessels said on Tuesday.

Ponting last week became the first Australian captain to lose three Ashes series, leading to calls for him to quit or be sacked.

"Ricky Ponting should be replaced as captain. If he can focus on his batting, then relinquishing the captaincy might be the best thing for him," Wessels, who also played 24 tests for Australia, told Reuters.

"No longer being captain won't necessarily mean he will lose his place in the side, there aren't really any players queueing up to take his place," Wessels said.

Australia's decline, losing to England at home for the first time since 1986-87 with three of the defeats coming by margins of an innings, followed a lengthy period at the summit of world cricket.

"It's looking a bit like the West Indies situation where they dominated for a long time but did not plan for when the better players go out," Wessels said.

"It's a bit similar with Australia because they've just assumed the good times would continue. Sometimes, when you're at your best, it's when you're most vulnerable," South Africa's first test captain after their return from isolation said.

POOR FORM

Wessels said Australia were not helped by the poor form of Ponting's heir apparent, Michael Clarke.

"All along they've planned for Michael Clarke to take over the captaincy, but now he's been having problems too. He should perhaps go for a bit as captain and see if he can recover his form. If not, then Australia will have a serious problem," Wessels said.

Former South Africa fast bowler Allan Donald offered the Australians some hope, however.

"We saw the same thing in 1986-87 when England went to Australia and comfortably won the Ashes and the limited-overs series," he said.

"Australia as a team looked well-beaten. But they won the World Cup in 1987 and were resurgent in the 90s and became the powerhouses of the game."

Donald said Australia were rebuilding and other teams would be hungry to take advantage at this year's World Cup which starts next month.

"They're looking extremely exposed for the first time in two decades and the rest of the world will be licking their lips and saying we want a piece of them," Donald said.

"But England are a good team, that's the bottom line, and even though one can't really comprehend the massive defeats they've suffered, Australia are still the world champions in one-day cricket."

Reuters Showcase

Countering China

Countering China

PM Modi to ramp up help for Indian Ocean nations to counter China influence  Full Article 

'India's Daughter'

'India's Daughter'

Society created Delhi gang rape convicts: Filmmaker Leslee Udwin.  Full Article | Related Story 

Kohli Censured

Kohli Censured

BCCI warns Virat Kohli against repeat of misbehaviour.  Full Article 

MUDRA Bank

MUDRA Bank

Funding the unfunded: India helps small business borrow to grow  Full Article 

PML(N)'s Hope

PML(N)'s Hope

Pakistan's ruling party looks for gains in upper house election  Full Article 

For Women's Right

For Women's Right

Afghan men don burqas, take to the streets for women's rights.  Full Article 

U.S. Envoy Attacked

U.S. Envoy Attacked

Knife-wielding attacker slashes face of U.S. ambassador in South Korea  Full Article 

New Strategy

New Strategy

Ashwin mulls 'one-sided' ploy against big-hitters.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage