Ricky Ponting threw himself upon the mercy of Australia’s selectors after his team’s shameful Ashes performances, saying he still wanted to lead the side.
However Ponting admitted he was starting to question his ability to bat at No.3.
“There have been a few doubts creep into my mind the last couple of weeks,” Ponting said.
“I’m not going to hide that. I definitely have to re-evaluate where I’m at as far as being a Test batsman is concerned.”
Ponting revealed Test selector Greg Chappell had mentioned to him before the Ashes series the possibility of dropping to No.4, but nothing came of it.
The plan involved “someone else coming into the squad to bat at three”.
This strategy is surely under consideration again, with Usman Khawaja the name on everyone’s lips.
Australia’s loss by an innings and 157 runs before lunch on day four of the fourth Ashes Test at the MCG left the Barmy Army singing and England captain Andrew Strauss grinning.
England claimed a 2-1 lead in the five-match contest and retained the urn with one match to play, in Sydney starting on January 3.
The Poms haven’t reached such heights in Australia since 1986-87 and for Ponting it’s another Ashes stain on his captaincy, having lost the 2005 and 2009 series in England.
Resuming on 6-169 needing a total of 415 to make England bat a second time, Australia were bowled out for 258 at 11.53am on Wednesday, with tailender Ryan Harris not batting because of a stress fracture to his left ankle.
Harris had surgery on Wednesday and will be out for four months, ruling the Queensland quick out of February’s World Cup campaign on the subcontinent.
Uncapped spinner Michael Beer, who was 12th man in the Melbourne Test, is expected to come into the side for the SCG finale.
Ponting’s mediocre batting (113 runs at 16.14 in the series) has left a question mark over his playing future, especially after carrying a fractured left little finger into the Melbourne Test.
But he says he can manage the finger injury. Ponting had x-rays on Wednesday.
While Ponting’s captaincy is also under threat, doubts lingering over vice-captain Michael Clarke’s ability to take on the role mean the logical replacement doesn’t seem so logical at the moment.
Even Steve Waugh is throwing up left-field names like Tasmania wicketkeeper Tim Paine, and one betting agency is listing Test gloveman Brad Haddin as the next skipper.
“I probably haven’t got much of a case at the moment,” a glum-faced Ponting said when asked how he could convince selectors he was the best man to lead the side.
“I’ve captained a lot of winning teams (48 times in 77 matches).
“I feel I am well equipped to bring on some young guys and we have got a few of them in the side now.
“As far as having people out there who know what it takes to win Test matches, I have played in 99 of them (wins) so I have got a pretty good idea.
“I want to keep playing. I would love to keep leading the team.
“I still think I’ve got a lot to offer in both those regards.
“It’s got to be about the betterment of Australian cricket. It’s never been about me.”
Australia’s selectors were meeting on Wednesday and were due to name a Test squad on Thursday.
Khawaja’s possible injection into the side at No.3 would mean someone would have to drop out of the middle order, with fellow NSW youngster Steve Smith a candidate.
However Smith’s legspin could save him for the Sydney Test, with Khawaja perhaps having to wait until the Sri Lanka tour in August for his debut.
It was a moment to savour for Strauss.
Asked if this was as good as it gets, he said: “Not far off. Winning the Ashes in Australia has always been a holy grail for English sides.”