The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Test captaincy opportunity welcome: Ricky Ponting
- Debate rages as top Aussie speedster comes to the beleaguered skipper’s defence

Perth: Australian one-day captain Ricky Ponting on Monday welcomed the opportunity to succeed skipper Steve Waugh at the helm of the world’s best Test team.

But Ponting emphasised his belief that Waugh would continue in the role for as long as he wished.

Rising speculation would have Waugh, 37, dumped by selectors at the end of the Ashes series against England early next year and replaced for the four-Test West Indies tour starting in April.

Ponting, 28, is a front-runner for the prestigious job because of his ease in adapting to the demands of leadership in the one-day game, after Waugh was relegated to the bench in the limited-overs line-up.

Ponting’s side sits atop the current tri-nations series standings ahead of England, taking a third-straight win, crushing Sri Lanka by 142 runs at the WACA on Sunday. Australia will travel to South Africa in February with strong prospects of retaining the World Cup crown.

“Things are working out pretty well for me in the one-day arena, but Steve is Test captain now and probably will be for as long as he wants to be if he keeps playing well,” Ponting said. “But if that chance did come, it would be nice to do it. I won’t be thinking about it too much.”

Ponting said despite his lack of experience when he was asked to succeed Waugh as one-day captain, he always tried to think as a captain when he was in the field. “I would like to think that I have a good enough cricket brain, and understand the game well enough, to be able to do a good job as captain,” he said.

“When I make decisions, I like to talk to some of the more senior players out there and get their opinions as well. I am not always going to be right, and I like to hear advice from the other guys.”

Ponting had not captained any senior side until just over a year ago, when he became skipper of the Tasmanian Sheffield Shield team. He took over from veteran opening batsman Jamie Cox, who stepped down specifically to give Ponting experience.

“I owe Jamie a lot for doing that — it was something he did not have to do,” Ponting said. “It was his decision. I might not have got the one-day Australian captaincy but for that. I am indebted to him for that.”

Questions about the legality of Brett Lee’s action would likely be spared were it not for his speed, Ponting said on Monday.

“If he was bowling at, say, 135 km per hour, I don’t think his action would be queried,” he said amid press reports that Lee’s bowling action might be suspect. Media sparked the issue on Sunday when Lee hurled one of the fastest deliveries bowled in Australia.

Lee, 26, clocked speeds of 156.2 km an hour during a fearsome opening spell to start the Sri Lankan innings in their tri-series clash. A speed gun operated by Channel Nine television caught the deliveries on tape.

“He has just got good rhythm at the moment. He is just bowling fast,” Ponting said. “It’s the price you pay for bowling as quickly as he is.”

Lee said he had no problem with his action. “It was questioned about three years ago,” he said. “An expert panel of 10 looked at me, and they came back 10-nil in my favour. I think if I had a problem with my action, the umpires would query it.

“Until then, I have no problems.”

Australian fast bowling legend Dennis Lillee compounded the controversy over Lee’s action earlier this month during the third Ashes Test. “I have seen him right throughout his career, and there have been times when it (his action) has not looked great,” Lillee said. “Overall, I have never had a problem with Brett Lee. I have had a problem with some other bowlers, but I am not going to mention their names.”

Lillee said the International Cricket Council (ICC) needed to do more to monitor bowlers with suspect action and convene panels similar to the one that examined Lee’s action.

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