Clarke and Ponting

The current and previous Aussie captains have had very contrasting days today. Michael Clarke played an incredible innings. He began the day slightly inauspiciously by losing the toss. It looked a bowl first pitch and Smith duly inserted the Aussies. (Though Clarke said that he would have liked to bat anyway.) He was into the crease much sooner than he would have liked, however, as Australia slipped to 40-3 against the bowling of Steyn and the debutant Vernon Philander. Clarke had a torrid time starting against Steyn, but he stayed in and it was only a few overs before Steyn had to come out of the attack. From there Clarke found it much easier. Morkel, Tahir and Kallis took just 1-121 between them and went at nearly five an over. By the time Steyn returned to the attack the Aussie skipper was already past 70 and well set. A further five wickets fell before bad light stopped play early with Australia struggling on 214-8 with Clarke not out and having made exactly half of those runs.

Ponting, on the other hand, made only eight. He did not play poorly, but was undone by a brilliant inswinger from Steyn. It does mean that he has not passed fifty since the meaningless second innings at Brisbane last November. Over the last twelve months he averages just 20 in seven Tests. There was a lot of speculation over his future in the side after the dismal Ashes series. He stepped down from the captaincy, but hung on to his place. He compared himself to Tendulkar at the time as he hoped to have a similar Indian summer. Before the limited overs leg of the tour Clarke suggested that Ponting was due for a renaissance and Ponting himself said two days ago that he had no plans to retire. Events may conspire against him though. There is a series against New Zealand coming up which is a good one in which to blood youngsters. If Ponting can’t put up a good score at some point in this series he may have to jump before he is pushed.

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