Former Australia cricket captain Ricky Ponting believes that current captain Pat Cummins embodies the qualities of a traditional Test captain, allowing plans to unfold naturally, while his English counterpart Ben Stokes constantly aims to make an impact with every delivery.
The decision-making abilities of these two relatively new captains in the ongoing Ashes series have sparked heated debates among pundits and the media.
One of Stokes’ bold decisions, to declare early in the first innings of the opening Test, has been subject to intense analysis. Similarly, Cummins’ limited use of rookie spinner Todd Murphy in the unfortunate loss at Headingley has raised concerns and garnered considerable attention.
“This has been one of the most tactical series that I can remember, due to the two different styles of play and two contrasting styles of leadership as well,” Ponting said in an interview with ‘The ICC Review’.
Ponting further explained, “Pat (Cummins) is more of a traditional Test match captain who sets fields and allows plans to unfold naturally over a long period of time, whereas Stokes is the opposite. He tries to make something happen every ball, which sometimes prevents plans from fully developing.”
Cummins took over as Test captain after Tim Paine’s sudden resignation ahead of the 2021 Ashes and has had success in the role. Under his leadership, Australia won the last Ashes series 4-0 and also secured victories against Pakistan, West Indies, and South Africa. They drew 1-1 with Sri Lanka away from home last year.
The only series loss under Cummins’ captaincy came against India earlier this year, but they bounced back by defeating India in the final to win the World Test Championship.
“Pat is still relatively new to the job. Let’s not forget that he has only been doing it for a couple of years, and I believe he is learning along the way,” Ponting commented.
Heading into the fourth Test of the series, Australia currently leads 2-1.
“I have no doubts about Pat’s capabilities. The fact that Australia is leading the series 2-1 shows that he has done a good job in my opinion,” Ponting added.
Ponting emphasized that it is important to analyze the tactics of both captains at the end of the series, rather than focusing on individual incidents.
“There will always be small details in a game that people are happy to talk about when you lose. But ultimately, we should wait to see the final result of the series before critiquing both captains based on that,” Ponting concluded.