Australian captain Ponting has no plans to retire
Ricky Ponting has no plans to retire, rejecting mounting speculation Wednesday that he'll stand down as Australia captain after the Cricket World Cup.
Ponting told a packed media conference on the eve of Australia's World Cup quarter-final against host India that he had no intention of retiring and "will be playing for a few more years."
Calls from critics and some ex-players for Ponting to quit — or at least retire from ODI cricket — have gathered momentum since Australia lost the Ashes test series 3-1 to England at home in January.
The 36-year-old batsman has been out of form and looking increasingly frustrated in the field. He was fined for breaking a TV in a dressing room after being run out in a group match against Zimbabwe, and flung a ball into the ground after a collision with a teammate in another. Australia's unbeaten 34-match run at the World Cup ended last Saturday in a four-wicket loss to Pakistan, when Ponting was criticized for standing his ground to await the umpire's decision despite knowing he was out.
Unsourced reports in Britain and Australia suggested this week that Ponting will either be forced to quit or be fired at the end of the World Cup.
"There has been stuff about me retiring that is completely false, untrue, never contemplated retiring," Ponting told a media conference that was wall-to-wall crowded with more than 100 reporters.
"I am enjoying my cricket … quarter-final against India is a big game. Preparing for that."
Australia has won the last three World Cup titles, including the last two with Ponting at the helm.
Ponting has played 358 limited-overs internationals and scored 13,184 runs at an average of 42.4, including 29 centuries. He is Australia's leading runscorer in test and ODI cricket.
He said he knows what he needs to do to get back into the scoring.
"Guys like myself know what you need to do," he said. "The great challenge for me is to do that tomorrow.
"I just want to enjoy the last couple of days of this World Cup — training and hard work — and just go out there and play. We need to play with freedom and conviction tomorrow — the Australian way."
Ponting said he was disappointed with Australia's batting collapse in the loss to Pakistan, but expected the squad to be energized by the fact they're in the knockout stage.
"It doesn't get any bigger, playing India in India," at the World Cup, he said. "The India game is one of the biggest games I have played as captain.
"It will be enjoyable and exciting. A packed house tomorrow against a very good Indian team … [which] will be a bit anxious about the outcome of the game as well."
Ponting said the group stage had been OK, but "the quarters, semis and finals are what World Cups are all about. You can go through with dropping a game early in the tournament, but not so now."
Until the weekend, Australia's last loss at the World Cup was in the group stage to Pakistan in the 1999 edition. The Australians rallied by squeaking into the final on superior runrate following a tied semifinal with South Africa, then thrashed Pakistan in the final at Lord's.
Ponting has played some key roles in Australia's successful reign, including his hundred in the 2003 final in South Africa, when he bludgeoned the Indian seam bowlers out of the attack.
"I do remember the 2003 final, yes," he said Wednesday.
Veteran teammate Mike Hussey and ex-deputy Adam Gilchrist said if the retirement speculation was designed to unsettle Ponting ahead of the crucial match against India, it would more than likely have the opposite affect.
"It's just amazing sometimes how champions just rise to the occasion at the right time," said Ponting, who said Ponting had the 100 per cent support of the World Cup squad.
"Against India in the World Cup is one of those times where I think we'll see the best of Ricky Ponting."