Ricky Ponting has declared there can be no more questions about Pat Cummins' captaincy and leadership after he led Australia to World Cup glory in India. Cummins has produced an incredible year as Aussie skipper, retaining the Ashes in England, winning the World Test Championship and now the ODI World Cup.
The 30-year-old also produced a tactical masterstroke to bowl first in Sunday's final against India, knowing full well that the Aussies would have better batting conditions under lights in the second innings. The captain rotated his bowlers superbly and restricted India to just 240, which the Aussies chased down with six wickets in hand and seven overs remaining.
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But despite his world-beating year in charge of the Aussie Test and ODI teams, Cummins still cops plenty of flak from pundits and fans alike. He was even under fire during Australia's nine-match winning streak at this World Cup, with many questioning why he didn't bowl Josh Hazlewood for his full 10 overs during the semi-final win over South Africa.
But according to Ponting, there can be no doubts about Cummins as a captain anymore, calling for fans to change the way they perceive him. "I think (the captaincy) has been almost faultless, to be honest," the former captain told Sky Sports.
"I mean, any captain deciding to bowl first at the toss, that's a gutsy, courageous move. Australia felt that if they could bowl well on that dry wicket early on and restrict India, batting was gonna get easier in the second innings - but we all know if you get that call wrong and you lose the game, that's a huge decision to make for a relatively young captain.
"I thought his leadership actually has got better and better right through the tournament. His bowling has got better, and the way he used his bowlers today and some of his field placements to (Virat) Kohli and KL Rahul, outstanding, so once again, an Australian team just finds a way to get it done in the final."
Ricky Ponting calls for change to Pat Cummins narrative
Cummins copped it during the Ashes series even though the Aussies managed to retain the urn on English soil. Many felt the Aussies should have won the series outright. The knives were also out at the start of the year when they went down 2-1 in their Test series in India, even though it marked the first time Australia had won a Test match in the country in decades.
"I don't know where the negativity's come from because there's been no real basis for it," Ponting added. "You look at their overall Test record since he's been captain is outstanding. And now he's a World Cup-winning captain, a World Test Championship-winning captain and a captain who retained the Ashes, so that negativity needs to be put aside now.
"Because there have been a number of moments - think back to the first Test of the Ashes - where he stood up and actually got the job done himself. Under extreme pressure with bat or ball, it's generally been him when his team's in trouble who's changed the course of the game. So he thoroughly deserves every plaudit that comes his way as far as leadership is concerned."
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