Former Australian opener and selector David Boon has said that not even a century by Ricky Ponting in the second Test against South Africa could save him from the proverbial axe from the national squad.
Even if he makes his first Test century in almost two years, the new selection panel under John Inverarity must give Ponting the same quiet word that fellow Tasmanian David Boon heard when he was close to the end.
The batting battleship, one of Australia's bravest players in an era of rampant fast bowlers, scored a defiant hundred during the Boxing Day Test 16 years ago.
Recalling that event to the Daily Telegraph, Boon said he was told: "That wasn't the hundred we wanted to see" and retired one Test later, aged 35.
He had just gone 18 innings without a century, which included seven single-figure scores.
Ponting, 37 next month, has had 26 innings without a century. Among the last 12 innings there have been no half-centuries and six single-figure scores.
This is far worse than the run Steve Waugh had a decade ago, when he went 16 innings without a century and another six innings before making that remarkable, career-saving hundred at the SCG. Harsh reality has overtaken Ponting's former greatness.
It has already engulfed Simon Katich, sacked as departing chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch claimed that his now defunct selection panel was building for the Ashes in 2013.
Katich may have been the most successful batsman in the world for 2 1/2 years but his last 10 innings were apparently all that mattered, when he averaged 23.
In their last 10 innings Ponting has averaged 17.5, Brad Haddin 20.67 and Phil Hughes 28.7, with Mitchell Johnson's bowling average the wrong side of 50 this year.
Australian cricket rose to new heights as Ponting became the most prolific batsman in the country's history, regarded by many as second only to Bradman.
Sixteen Tests wins in a row twice, three consecutive World Cups, two of them unbeaten with Ponting as captain, as his Test average briefly nudged 60.
Now Ponting is failing and so is the team. His demise is inextricably linked to Australia's tumble.
The last time Australia did such serious rebuilding for the Ashes, Boon, Craig McDermott, Dean Jones, Steve Waugh, Merv Hughes, Ian Healy and later Mark Taylor were introduced as players of the future. They surprised the cricketing world by winning the 1987 World Cup and 1989 Ashes.
With just two victories from their past 12 Tests Australia have not performed so poorly since those dark days of the mid '80s but have exciting players on the cusp. (ANI)