The details of the Australian cricket team’s transitional turmoil continue to be laid bare by its retiring players with former captain Ricky Ponting becoming the latest to offer a peak into the dressing room and his doubts about his then deputy Michael Clarke’s attitude.
After retired batsman Michael Hussey recalling his concerns about the Australian team culture in his autobiography ‘Underneath the Southern Cross’, it is Ponting’s turn to revisit the turbulent times in his memoir ‘The Close Of Play’. In extracts from the book that were published in Australian newspapers, Ponting has spoken of his concerns about Clarke’s attitude towards responsibility while he was vice-captain. “I knew he was an excellent thinker, but for a long time I was concerned that he wouldn’t be able to handle the huge variety of ‘little things’ that go with being Australian captain.
“It wasn’t that he was disruptive or treacherous, and publicly he said all the right things, but he had never been one to get too involved in planning sessions or debriefs at the end of a day’s play, or to volunteer to take on any of the captain’s workload,” Ponting wrote. “More than once, (then coach) Tim Nielsen and I had encouraged him to take on more of a leadership role within the group, but when Pup was down on form or if he had a problem away from cricket, he’d go into his shell,” he recalled.
In a different world
Ponting said between 2008-10, Clarke seemed like moving “in a different world to the rest of us”. “It never worried me if a bloke didn’t want a drink in the dressing room, but I did wonder about blokes who didn’t see the value in sticking around for a chat and a laugh and a post-mortem on the day’s play,” Ponting wrote. “This was the time when we could revel in our success, pick up the blokes who were struggling, and acknowledge the guys who were at the peak of their powers. Pup hardly bought into this tradition for a couple of years and the team noticed.
“At times, he reminded me of a