Melbourne, Nov.22 : Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting is probably going through a phase in his sporting life that was something similar to what his predecessor Allan Border went through in the mid-1980s.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Ponting is facing a n inquisition of sorts on tense selection issues, the insecurity of under-performing players, the glee of other nations at extending the once-invincible champions and a nosy media, all of which were experienced by Border when he took over the Australian captaincy after the tearful and shocking retirement of Kim Hughes and the retirements of stalwarts like Greg Chappell, Dennis Lillee and Rodney Marsh.
Mark Taylor once said five years was the sensible limit for a Test captain. Border did it for 10.onting has done it for four and a half. Next month he will be 34, the same age at which Taylor retired.
Ponting is determined to press on and so he will. But there will be no silken ride into retirement. His toughest years will be his last and no one wants that.
It is clear from the last month of international cricket that Ponting's challenge as captain is not simply to keep his team fresh and energised but also himself in the same condition.
It is a shame Ponting remains angry at Border for criticizing his bowling tactics in Nagpur because Border is one of the few captains who can relate to Ponting's challenge.
Border retired just as Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath were reaching full bloom. For much of his career his attack was in a state of flux.
There is much to be learnt from him, particularly because if he did it again there would be plenty of things he would change.
As a leader Ponting is more relaxed than Border and so he should be.
During this time Border never even changed his home phone number, though often when he answered the phone with a tense "Hullooo" you could tell the strain that was riding with him.
Border was at the helm for most of a four-year period in the mid-1980s when Australia had such a poor side they did not win a series. Despite this, he managed a Test average of above 50 - a truly exceptional performance. Every team in the world tried to nail him. No one did.