Besieged Australia captain Ricky Ponting denied he had plans to quit international cricket amid reports he was ready to walk away.
The 36-year-old, who has been under intense pressure since the Ashes defeat, as well as for his controversial behavior and poor form at the World Cup, said international retirement had never crossed his mind. There had been reports in the English media that he planned to retire from the international scene at the end of World Cup and finish his career at an English county.
“There’s been some stuff written about me retiring after the World Cup and all that is false,” said Ponting. “I’ve never even thought about or contemplated retiring. I’m enjoying my cricket as much as ever. Whatever you’ve read, don’t worry too much about that. You’ll hopefully see me playing a lot in the next few years.”
The Australia captain admitted he had pondered a spell in English county cricket.
“I looked at trying to play some county cricket before the Sri Lankan tour this year, for the fact that I would have been coming off three months of no cricket and I thought we were going straight in to Test matches. That’s why my management had a look around a few of the counties to see if they were interested. As it worked out, our programmes just didn’t line up.”
The retirement rumour came a day after a report in the Australian media, in which an unnamed Cricket Australia (CA) official was quoted as saying that Ponting faced a challenge at board level to retain the captaincy. Ponting said he was keen to play on in Test and One-Day Internationals and if he was asked to step aside as leader to make way for Michael Clarke, it would not be an issue.
Australian Cricketers’ Association chief Paul Marsh lashed out at talk that Ponting could be axed.
“Firstly, if a senior official is going to make such inflammatory comments about our national captain, and one of this country’s greatest-ever players, how about having the guts to at least put your name to them,” said Marsh. “Secondly, the team is days away from one of its biggest games in recent memory and now they have to deal with the speculation surrounding these irresponsible comments. I’ve been scratching my head trying to work out why someone associated with CA would make these comments two days before a World Cup quarter-final.”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2011.