Domain Test Series v Pakistan
Pakistan skipper ‘a long way off’: Ponting
Test legend says the tourists lack an experienced leader after another Australia batting blitz on day one in Adelaide
Martin Smith at the Adelaide Oval
30 November 2019, 10:39 AM AEST
Test great Ricky Ponting says the captaincy of Pakistan’s Azhar Ali was “a long way off the mark” on the opening day of the second Domain Test, adding he feels sorry for the 34-year-old given he’s an inexperienced leader in charge of a “pretty pedestrian” bowling attack.
Azhar was handed the leadership of the Pakistan Test side just last month when Sarfaraz Ahmed was sacked as skipper, despite the former’s minimal captaincy experience at first-class level.
Ponting said he felt for Azhar, but added the skipper hadn’t shown enough leadership or tactical nous on Friday as David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne both posted centuries on another dominant day for Australia’s batsmen.
“Terrible,” Ponting told cricket.com.au when asked what he thought of Azhar’s tactics on the opening day in Adelaide. “He just looks like he’s a long way off the mark, Azhar Ali.
“He’s only captained 16 first-class games in his life, so he’s a young captain in charge of a young bowling team and they look like they just need a bit more experience at the helm.
“It’s obviously not the most skilled bowling attack of all time. But that’s where you need the captain to be able to help out and set certain fields for you, and tell you exactly what he wants you to do as a bowler. It doesn’t look like they’ve had that direction out on the field.
“It’s not anything personal against Azhar Ali, I’m just saying what I’ve seenon the field. Tactically, he looks like he’s been a fair way behind.
“I absolutely feel sorry for him. Even the fact they debuted a 16-year-old (Naseem Shah) in Brisbane and they couldn’t use him properly for whatever reason, and he’s not playing this game.
“And he just doesn’t look like he’s got the cattle in that bowling group to make any sort of inroads at all.”
Ponting said the way Azhar missed a tight run-out chance early in the day’s play, where a clean pick-up and throw could have created an opportunity, symbolised another disappointing day for the tourists.
“He was on his heels, he was sloppy, he picked it up lazily and threw it off balance,” Ponting said. “That to me just says he’s probably not engaged in the game enough.”
But Ponting was quick to add Azhar wasn’t helped on Friday by his bowlers, who he said gave up too many boundaries square of the wicket and didn’t bowl enough full balls to trouble Warner and Labuschagne.
The recall of Mohammad Abbas and addition of debutant Musa Khan did little to improve the potency of the Pakistan attack, which gave up a total of 580 at the Gabba last week.
“From what I’ve seen, their attack is pretty pedestrian,” he said. “It’s certainly not the best fast-bowling attack I’ve seen Pakistan put out.
“About five overs into the day, I said to someone, ‘They’re not going to take another wicket for the whole day here’.
“Mohammad Abbas is bowling in the low 120s with no movement, Shaheen Afridi looks likely and lively, he looks like a good bowler, but Musa Khan has no control, is short and is a nice skiddy pace (for the batsmen).
“They’re relying on batsmen to make mistakes. And when you’ve got hungry batsmen out there like these two are, they’re not going to give their wicket away.”
Domain Test Series v Pakistan
Australia squad: Tim Paine (c), Cameron Bancroft, Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner
Pakistan squad: Azhar Ali (c), Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Imran Khan Snr, Iftikhar Ahmed, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Musa Khan, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Yasir Shah.
First Test: Australia won by an innings and five runs.