~~Comic pair~~ Ponting, Buchanan come under fire

Published: Sunday, October 1, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney: Australia captain Ricky Ponting's leadership style and coach John Buchanan's tactics have come under severe criticism from former Test batsman Greg Ritchie.

Comparing Ponting-Buchanan duo to 1940s American screen comic pair of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, Ritchie said leg-spinner Shane Warne would be a better captain and Buchanan knew nothing about coaching.

''Australia would win the Ashes if Shane Warne was captain.

On the field, he (Ponting) doesn't know what's going on. England's bowlers have our measure,'' Ritchie was quoted as saying by Sydney Morning Herald.

Ritchie's scathing attack comes days after former Aussie captain Ian Chappell's criticism of Ponting's leadership style during the last Ashes which England won after 18 years in a thinly disguised expression of preference for Warne to Ponting.

''When you looked at the two on the field Vaughan was always the one who appeared to be in control of his emotions and his team. His body language was very good,'' Chappell had said of Vaughan's man-in-command style of captaincy.

''Ricky would often find himself engaged in discussions with other senior players like (Adam) Gilchrist or (Shane) Warne and it wasn't always easy to tell who was in charge.'' The 46-year-old Ritchie, who played 30 Tests for Australia between 1982 and 1987, said Ponting's captaincy in the one-dayer against South Africa this year -- when Australia lost after amassing a fleeting world record of 434 runs -- as dismal.

''It was an effort that you wouldn't expect from the Sturt under-14 captain,'' he said.Ritchie also hammered Ponting's heavily criticised decision to bowl first in the second Ashes Test at Edgbaston last year and called Buchanan ''a buffoon'' in light of Glenn McGrath's injury before the same match.

''What were they doing playing rugby league before the match? ''What Buchanan knows about coaching you could write on the back of a dinner plate,'' Ritchie added.

A London newspaper had also recently quoted Warne as doubting the value of Buchanan's input to team plan which earned the spin wizard a stiff rebuke from Ponting.Warne had later contacted Ponting and Buchanan to claim he had been misquoted.

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