Ricky Ponting must go on defensive to save Ashes
SYDNEY: From what we have seen so far it is clear this will be Ricky Ponting's last series. He is the right man to carry on until it finishes but he has to lead by scoring a gallon of runs.
He is playing all right but it is a big challenge to see if he can get the team playing well again. As a captain you can make an average team better through your tactics and management. You can make indifferent bowlers look better by giving them more plans and working out a system.
Ponting is not doing that at the moment and I wonder if it is because he is so used to being an aggressive captain for so long because he had such great players at his disposal.
Now he has to adopt a different style, perhaps a little like the way Nasser Hussain got England to play - make it difficult for the opposition to get a score and try to force wickets by bowling consistently and patiently and not think you are going to blast the opposition out. He needs to set fields that make it hard for England to score runs. Not having a midwicket to Kevin Pietersen at any stage, like he did in Adelaide, is criminal.
You have always got to try to force KP to hit through the off side, even against spinners. But the Australian think-tank does not appear to be working clearly.
What plans they have had have been abandoned within a couple of overs. It is muddled thinking from one team while another, England, ploughs on with a clarity of purpose that will win them the Ashes.
If you look at Australia's Test side you can tell they are thinking about their individual performances rather than the team. You can see players are looking over their shoulder and not playing as a collective unit.
England won a Test here without luck. It was down to pure skill but I look at Australia and think they will need an element of luck to beat us. -Ap