SYDNEY, Oct 15, 2010 (AFP) - - Ricky Ponting says he is still the man to lead Australia in next month’s Ashes series with England amid calls for his sacking and questions over his tactics.
Ponting arrived home late Thursday from a 2-0 Test series loss to India to be greeted by calls from former Test paceman Geoff Lawson for him to step aside as skipper.
Ponting was also publicly criticised by former Test teammate Shane Warne for his field settings during spinner Nathan Hauritz’s bowling during this week’s second Test loss to India in Bangalore.
Pressure has mounted on Ponting’s leadership ahead of the five-Test home series against England after Australia lost three consecutive Tests for the first time in more than 20 years.
Asked by reporters if he was the right man to captain Australia this summer, Ponting declared: “Absolutely, I’ve got no doubt about that at all.”
“It was disappointing over there (India)... but that’s the game of cricket.
“I’m still learning about my own game and my captaincy and if the other players can learn a bit from that trip then it should hold us in good stead for the summer.”
Ponting said he always gave his absolute best when he played for his country.
“I’m trying to do my best as captain to help some of these guys through some difficult times,” he said.
“That’s all I can continue to do.
“I give my absolute best as always, ever since I’ve been the Australian captain, to be the best leader I can be and be the best player I can be and if I get criticised for that along the way then I can’t do anything about that.”
Lawson has called for deputy Michael Clarke to lead Australia against England at the Gabba in Brisbane from November 25.
Lawson said Ponting, 35, had now lost five series as skipper, and relieving him of the captaincy would allow him to focus more on his batting.
“I mean he’s now lost five series, it may be time to say, ‘Look mate, we’ve got Michael Clarke ready to go with a nice fresh young mind,” Lawson told Friday’s Daily Telegraph.
“’He (Clarke) can be the captain and you focus on your batting and try to restore yourself to the level we know you’re capable.’”
But Clarke has his own problems and scored just 35 runs from four innings in the Indian Test series.
Ponting said he had told Warne directly of his feelings about his controversial remarks on Twitter.
It was Hauritz, in fact, Ponting emphasised to reporters, who set his own fields.
“I sent (Warne) a few texts and I’m not hiding the fact I was really disappointed with the tweets that I read,” Ponting said.
“I’ve just got to put it behind me now. I told him that I was a bit disappointed, and I thought what he had to say was very unfair, for the fact it was pretty ill-informed comments that he made.
“I’ve never been one to run away or be too big or too good for criticism.”
Ponting said Hauritz had also been in immediate telephone contact with Warne.
The embattled skipper was given a vote of confidence from the federal Sports Minister Mark Arbib.
“I’m a big fan of Punter (Ponting),” Arbib said. “I think Ricky Ponting has been a wonderful captain for our country and over a long period of time so I think he will remain as captain going through the Ashes.”
Former Test fast bowler Brett Lee said the three successive Test losses would rule out any complacency ahead of the Ashes that might have crept into the Australian dressing room. “The thing I can say is complacency won’t be setting in now because the shoe is on the other foot,” Lee told The Daily Telegraph on Friday.