Now retired from Test cricket, former Australia captain Ponting was watching as the side slumped to an Ashes series defeat by England, falling 3-0 behind to their arch-rivals heading into next week’s fifth and final Test at The Oval.
Ponting, who earlier this season played for Oval-based Surrey, is now representing the Antigua Hawksbills in the Limacol Caribbean Premier League (CPL) Twenty20 tournament and the star batsman has only been able to watch as a succession of top-order collapses have cost his country dear in the Ashes.
But Ponting said Australia needed to follow the example of England and, with a return Ashes starting Down Under in November, give their batsmen time to develop.
“There’s some challenges there for Australian cricket but with Darren Lehmann’s appointment as coach and some of the younger guys they’ve got around there, I think there’s enough talent,” Ponting said in a CPL statement issued Saturday.
“They’re just going to have to learn and unfortunately at the moment they’re learning the hard way,” the 38-year-old Ponting, one of the outstanding batsmen of his generation along with India’s Sachin Tendulkar and West Indies’ Brian Lara, said.
“You can find some excuses for a few of the guys. A few of the guys are young players trying to find their way in the most pressurised series that there is in world cricket: (Phil) Hughes, (Usman) Khawaja, even Steve Smith — although he’s played reasonably well at different times.
“But the thing that I keep referring to with that is if you take England back six or seven years when they had (Ian) Bell just starting out, (Alastair) Cook just starting out — those guys weren’t overnight successes.
“It’s taken them that amount of time in the game to hit their straps as international players and that’s what we have to do with our guys.
“We’ve got to identify the best players we’ve got, give them an opportunity and stick with them, even if we are losing games.
“If they’re the best players we’ve got, they’ve got to learn and grow some confidence in that environment, not be in and out of the team all the time. That’s the big challenge for us.”
Ponting, whose retirement allied to that of fellow batsman Michael Hussey left Australia’s top-order short of experience, said the current Ashes scoreline was unfair to the tourists.
“I think the boys have probably played a little better than the scoreline reads,” he said. “They’ve been in three Test matches with the chance to win all three, probably would have won at Old Trafford.
“But the scoreline reads 3-0 and that’s the difference sometimes between the really good, experienced teams and the teams that are on the way up — the know-how to get across the line and win those games. And that’s what England have done.”
Meanwhile Ponting insisted that, despite pleas from some fans, he had no intention of reversing his decision to retire from all senior cricket later this year following a career in which he has won three World Cups and scored 71 hundreds for Australia in Test and one-day internationals.
“No, I’ve definitely no thoughts of that,” he said. “It has been a pretty hard period for me, I have been away for six months straight.
“I went to the IPL, I went straight from there to Surrey and then straight from there to here for the Limacol CPL. For someone of my age, that is a little bit too long with a couple of little girls at home – I am missing them a lot.
“I have been travelling for 20 or 21 years so it is time for me to settle back into a normal life after this tournament.”