17 Dec 2010

Ponting remains on the ropes

7:58 am on 17 December 2010

The England cricketers have turned the screws on Australia's embattled leadership with Ricky Ponting's dismal run of form in the Ashes continuing on the opening day of the third Test in Perth.

The Australian captain and his deputy Michael Clarke both fell cheaply as England's pace attack capitalised on a grassy pitch to have the home side floundering at 36 for 4 before they fought back to 268 all-out.

Ponting, who had said on Wednesday it was time for him to lead the way with the bat, made just 12 from 10 balls.

It means Ponting, who has refused to drop down the order from number three, has just 82 runs for the series at 20.50 and he went into the match without a century in his previous eight Tests.

Including yesterday's innings, he is averaging 31.53 in his last nine Tests, more than 20 down on his career mark of 54.08.

Ponting himself admitted this week his future as captain is uncertain, with the Tasmanian facing the potential ignominy of becoming the first Australian skipper to lose three Ashes series, and his batting slump is only adding to the pressure.