Ricky Ponting has said watching Australia’s dominating 2-0 Test series victory over South Africa was the first time he feared for the future of Test cricket, in an exclusive interview with Wisden Cricket Monthly star interviewer Mel Farrell.
In the latest issue of WCM, Ponting admitted that despite near constant noise questioning the future of Test cricket, it was only when South Africa succumbed to two heavy defeats in Australia that he began to question what the format will look like in the years to come. He was skeptical about whether the increased volume of limited overs cricket played across the world can be pointed to as solely responsible for the situation of the longest format of the game.
“People have been pointing fingers at T20 cricket, but every country is playing T20 cricket,” he told Farrell. “It’s not just one or two that are playing. I mean England play more than anyone else and look at the Test cricket they’re playing at the moment. So it can obviously have a really good, positive effect on Test cricket as well.”
“I think the obvious answer is trying to find a way for the ICC to fund some of these series,” he says. “So it’s not just the big ones playing against themselves, because these guys right now, the West Indies and South Africa, probably need the money more than ever. So you would think the governing body would get involved there and somehow try and help them out.”
The interview also touched on the various controversies which have plagued Australian Cricket over the last few months, including Pat Cummins’ diminishing popularity with the Australian public over his climate activism, David Warner’s captaincy debacle and Justin Langer’s acrimonious departure from his role as head coach.
“I don’t think Cricket Australia handled that whole thing very well and they’ve got to take some of the responsibility for that,” said Ponting of Langer’s departure. “But I think deep down, and even some of the guys that I work with, a lot of them were pretty disappointed with the team and some of the things that were happening, some of the messages that were coming out.”
However, the former Australia captain and leading Test run-scorer for the country did point to the positive noises around Test cricket, following England’s regeneration under Brendon McCullum, and the intensity of the rivalries between the several of the Test-playing nations.
“There’s good and bad but it just seems that what England are doing, what Australia’s been able to do, there’s been good fun entertaining Test cricket,” said Ponting. “So that’s why I think it’s healthy. I think if we’re having a lot of drawn games and a lot of dead games, that’s when I’ll be worried about it. But it doesn’t feel like that to me at the moment.”
“If you think back to their team here last year, they had guys like [Rory] Burns and [Haseeb] Hameed and [Dom] Sibley, that just made cricket look too hard. You could tell that they weren’t skilful enough to be long-term successful international players. Then what they’ve gone and done, [Ben] Duckett and [Zac] Crawley and [Harry] Brook and these sort of guys, they’re really talented ones.
“Can they play this way against Australia? Is it sustainable against really good opposition? Well, we’ll have to wait and see. But that’s the thing that excites me because there are so many questions unanswered.”
You can read the full interview in the latest issue of Wisden Cricket Monthly, which is available to buy now.