Ponting's excuses for slow over-rate draw flak from Chappell, CA

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Melbourne, Nov 25 (UNI) Captain Ricky Ponting, who had a number of excuses for his team's poor over-rate during its recent tour of India, was once again under the hammer after Australia fell short of the stipulated overs in the first Test against New Zealand.

For his team's slow over-rate against the Kiwis at Brisbane, Ponting was fined 30 per cent of his match fee and his players 15 per cent each after Australia was found three overs short .

The Australian captain had to face the similar problem in the last Test against India at Nagpur but Ponting blamed the Indian players and ground contitions for his team's failure to complete its overs in stipulated time.

Former Australian captain Ian Chappell came down hard on Ponting and said statistics prove that skippers execuses in India were just baseless.

''That is a smokescreen. In a number of other series in different countries, Australia's over-rates have been even worse than they were in India,'' Chappell was quoted as saying by 'The Australian' today.

''The art of placing a field has not varied much from when Dennis Lillee was Australia's chief strike bowler, and Ashley Mallett the leading off-spinner.

''It's difficult to understand why Ponting needs to engage in long, drawn-out conversations with his bowlers, which is the main cause of Australia's slow over-rate,'' he added.

Meanwhile looking at Ponting's history, Cricket Australia (CA) has issued a stern warning to its captain.

''The Australian team clearly needs to look into the reasons why it has not, in recent times, been on top of its game in regard to over rates. The rules and regulations are very clear and we are falling behind, which is not good enough,'' CA chief executive James Sutherland said.

Statistics make it very evident that Ponting-led teams have never averaged more than the minimum of 15 overs per hour in any series since he took over from Steve Waugh for the series in Sri Lanka in 2003-04.

The best over-rate Ponting's team has averaged in any Test series is 14.74 per hour against Sri Lanka in Australia in 2004.

That is still short of the mark of 15 overs an hour set down by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

Australia's slowest over-rate in any series under Ponting was 12.78 per hour against the West Indies in the Caribbean this year - while the Indian tour last month (13.38) was the third worst.

Ponting is far behind his predecessors Waugh, Mark Taylor and Allan Border.

''If a captain follows a few simple rules, he won't go far wrong.

He should aim to place as many fielders in the region where a catch is most likely to go, and ensure taking wickets is his main objective.

''Saving singles is the next priority, with boundaries running a distant third. But saving boundaries ranks too high on Ponting's priority scale,'' Chappell stated.

UNI XC RAR PY AS1605

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