James Lawton: Ponting a legacy of Australia's superiority

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The Independent Online

How entirely Australian it is of Ricky Ponting to hit Bradmanesque levels so near to his anointment as successor to perhaps the greatest captain in the history of cricket. Ponting has for some time been the natural heir to Steve Waugh, and the seamlessness of his succession is still another pointer to the reason why the Aussies are so far ahead of the rest of the pack.

Leadership of the kind that the vice-captain Ponting supplied as he pushed the Australians towards the possibility of a series-winning exit for Waugh at the Sydney Cricket Ground against the talented Indians next week is simply endemic to their game.

Consider the chain of captaincy since Australia took such a stranglehold on world cricket: Allan Border, Mark Taylor, Waugh, now Ponting.

When the job becomes vacant in England we face something like a game of pass the semtex parcel. That may be a little harsh on Nasser Hussain and the incumbent Michael Vaughan. It is also true that it is quite a long time since we tried four in one season, but it is a fact that when Hussain first got the job in succession to an exhausted Mike Atherton the worry was that he believed in himself too much, while Vaughan, for all his runs, didn't do so quite enough.

However, there has never been much doubt about the real nature of the England captaincy problem.

Atherton wryly put his finger on it on the night of his resignation in Antigua. "You can be the best captain in the world," he noted, "but it doesn't mean much if you haven't got a winning team."

That wasn't an excuse, it was reality - one that is not likely to darken Ricky Ponting's vast blue sky.