Before the first Test against India on Boxing Day there were question marks against two established and proven players from Australia. Both Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey were under the hammer, and Ponting in particular was being singled out since he had not got a Test century for fairly long time. Test centuries are not easy to get but the regularity with which Ponting was getting them before the slump started for him made the drought stand out much more than for other players.
The fact that Australia had also lost its preeminent position in world cricket under his leadership also did not help, and the knives were well and truly out when the Australians lost to their southern neighbours New Zealand. Now while Australia, England Test matches are what drives Australian cricketers, any loss to New Zealand is a cause for lots of chest beating.
The Australians have always had a big brotherly attitude towards New Zealand and have never rated them in sports apart from rugby and therefore to lose a cricket Test where they were not asked to chase too many, had upset the Aussies no end.
Hussey had also not got big runs but he had got some half centuries and is well liked in Australia where he is fondly called 'Mr. Cricket.' Both Ponting and Hussey are used to pressure and dealing with it. You can’t be a success at the international level unless you can handle pressure and both had gone through the grind. We may see another ODI double ton from Warner
Still with India sensing an opportunity to win a series in Australia for the first time both Ponting and Hussey knew that the Australian public and the new selection committee would not look too kindly on another failure.
It was in the first Test itself that both came good and in testing situations too and when Australia most needed it. Thereafter there was no looking back and as India suffered a meltdown, both Ponting and Hussey went from strength to strength and any young Australian batsman waiting in the wings for a chance will now have to wait a bit longer.
Michael Clarke, the skipper, had a dream run not just as the captain of the team that walloped the challengers in all the Tests, but as a batsman he became the first Captain to get a triple century and a double century in the same series. In the form that he was in he must have wished for a full five Test match series, for who knows he may have got another big score if there was another Test match.
In the neighbouring country, New Zealand defeated Zimbabwe who are taking baby steps back into Test cricket with a huge margin bowling them out twice in a day to win on a green pitch. In United Arab Emirates there were low scores too as both Pakistan and England batted quite abysmally on a pitch where there was some turn, but by no stretch of imagination was it hard to bat on. By winning the second Test, Pakistan have won the series and England will have to lift their game especially their batsmen if they hope to salvage some pride form the tour.
Ricky Ponting for his double ton and an unbeaten half century in the second innings of the Adelaide Test is the CEAT International Cricketer of the Week.