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Ponting expects 'massive' changes in team composition

Published: Tuesday, December 30, 2008, 11:07 [IST]
 
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Ponting hints at team changes after loss

Melbourne: With Australia losing its first series at home since 1992-93, skipper Ricky Ponting is expecting the national selectors to change the team"s composition.

The nine-wicket defeat to South Africa in Melbourne today to give the visitors a two-nil series victory means that Australia now has no choice but to abandon the present and rebuild for the future.

According to Fox Sports, Australian cricket has gone into a freefall during the Boxing Day Test, notwithstanding Ponting's tragic heroics (101 an 99).

Ponting's 99 in the second innings after a first-innings century has left him shining as a beacon of greatness in a growing mountain of mediocrity, with South Africa on course to becoming the number one Test cricket playing nation in the world.

"The selectors I'm sure have had their thinking caps on over the last couple of days and we'll wait to the end of the game to see what comes of it," Ponting was quoted, as saying.

Resuming the last day on 0-30, South Africa achieved the balance target of 153, thanks to captain Graeme Smith''s cool 75 and a half-century from the bat of fellow opener Neil McKensie.

Rain was the home side''s only chance on the fifth day and while there was some in the morning, play began on time. Success was sealed after lunch when Hashim Amla flicked Michael Clarke for two behind square leg

While the visitors celebrated a superb 2-0 advantage following stunning comebacks in Perth and Melbourne, Ponting's players were glum after giving up their fortress.

There will be pain as the next generation develops under Ponting. Ponting aside, the batting was as insipid as the bowling and fielding had been a day earlier, when the last three South Africa wickets added 275.

So indictable was the batting that tailender Mitchell Johnson's 43 not out became second top score. No one in the top seven managed more than Michael Clarke's 29 and he holed out cross-batting a Dale Steyn short ball to cover as Australia was bowled out for 247.

Steyn followed his 5-87 and 76 in the first innings with 5-67. He is only 25, younger than just about every member of the Australia team.

The status quo is no longer an option for the conservative selection panel of Andrew Hilditch (chairman), David Boon, Merv Hughes and Jamie Cox when they hook up as soon as Tuesday to choose the team for the last Test in Sydney, beginning on Saturday.

Now the series is all but gone their brief is no longer the next Test but the next generation.

Ponting is also unsure whether his ageing spearhead Brett Lee would be fit to bowl.

The only questions now for the selectors should be whether the tyro Phillip Hughes, 20, or experienced Chris Rogers, 31, replaces Hayden and if it is out-swinging right-armer Ben Hilfenhaus, 25, or inswinging left-armer Doug Bollinger, 27, named as cover for Lee.

ANI

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