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'Might be Australian coming out in me': Ponting yet to congratulate McCullum on his new job

New Delhi, July 21 (IANS) Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has revealed that he still hasn’t congratulated Brendon McCullum on his new job as England’s Test team coach, joking that it might be the Australian in him stopping him to do so.

McCullum has made a superb start to his international coaching career, with the New Zealander helping Ben Stokes England to four straight Test victories since his appointment in May on the back of a more attacking and aggressive approach in all aspects of the game.

It came as no surprise to Ponting, with the Australian legend well aware of McCullum’s strengths as a player and a coach given the duo’s long standing relationship as opposing captains and coaches on the field, their work together as cricket commentators and their mutual love of other sports like golf and horse racing.

During the latest episode of The ICC Review, Ponting revealed that he spoke with McCullum about the England job while they both worked at the IPL earlier this year. But it’s been a different story for Ponting since McCullum accepted the role with Australia’s fierce rival, with the former Australia captain instead watching on from afar.

“It might be the Australian coming out in me, but I haven’t reached out to him to say congratulations,” Ponting laughed.

“It’s just a little bit hard for me to sit back and watch England play so well. When the Ashes starts I’m sure there’ll be a bit of banter starting between him and I and I will start it up then,” he added.

Ponting was a hugely successful captain for Australia with two World Cup victories in 2003 and 2007 and leading his country to a 5-0 Ashes whitewash of England in 2006/07. The champion batter is now considered one of the best tactical coaches in the game and had led Delhi Capitals to three consecutive playoff appearances prior to this year’s fifth-placed finish.

Asked what he would do to try and combat England’s attacking prowess if he was still captain of an opposing Test nation, Ponting highlighted the importance of sticking to the basics of the game.

“You really just have to stay patient, stick to the basics of the game. Once you get put under pressure as a player, you get away from the basics and the things that have made you successful.

England made it look easy chasing those big fourth innings totals and that says to me the opposition probably got away from what made them successful and probably weren’t focused enough on what they were doing and focused too much on what the opposition were doing,” the former Australian captain said.

“As soon as you start to feel the momentum of the game or the innings changing, maybe change things up drastically as a fielding captain – put a few more men back, or go the other way, be ultra-aggressive and not be scared of what the opposition is doing. That’s the art of captaincy, to identify momentum shifts and momentum moves in the game to make sure that you are ahead of the curve and not behind it,” he added.

–IANS

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