Ponting quashes retirement rumours
Under attack Australian skipper Ricky Ponting has quashed speculation that he will retire as Test captain if Australia loses Thursday's World Cup quarter-final against India.
The Daily Mail had reported that Ponting plans to retire from international cricket at the end of Australia's World Cup campaign and to finish his career captaining an English county side.
The report claimed Ponting would resign if his side is beaten by India in Thursday's sudden-death showdown at the Sardar Patel Stadium, Ahmedabad.
Speaking to reporters at the Australian team hotel, Ponting declared that he will extend his career beyond the World Cup.
"Nothing has changed for me in the last 12 months. I've said all along, every time I've been asked about retirement all I've ever answered is by saying I'm enjoying my cricket as much as ever," The Daily Telegraph quoted him, as saying.
"I've never thought about retirement or where the finish line might be. I've been trying to prepare myself as best I can as a player and lead the team as well as possible," he said.
"For some reason, these retirement (rumours) keep popping up. Every few weeks it feels like I'm answering the question but I'm enjoying it as much as ever. We have a big game coming up against India and I'm looking forward to getting into that and performing," Ponting said.
Ponting confirmed he had made subtle inquiries about a brief county stint this winter to prepare for Australia's tours to Sri Lanka and South Africa in August-September this year.
A Cricket Australia spokesman said on Wednesdaythe organisation was not aware of any imminent retirement announcement from Ponting.
Image: Ricky Ponting
Gilchrist comes to embattled Ponting's defence
Former Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist, who was a deputy to current skipper Ricky Ponting, on Wednesday jumped to his defence saying the beleaguered batsman is the best the country has produced after the legendary Sir Don Bradman.
Ponting's future both as captain and player is under a cloud following his poor run with the bat in the ongoing World Cup in the sub-continent but Gilchrist said the right-hander has done enough for the country to deserve a run beyond the recent slump.
"But I do know that in 1999 when there were rumors that Steve Waugh was told he would lose the captaincy if we bowed out of that World Cup, he scored one of the great World Cup hundreds ever against South Africa and we went on to win the World Cup," Gilchrist told Australian Associated Press.
"Maybe this is the inspiration Ricky needs."
Australia take on India in the World Cup quarterfinal on Thursday and a loss for the three-time defending champions would add to the speculation about Ponting's future.
Gilchrist served as Ponting's deputy before retiring in 2008.
Image: Ricky Ponting (right) and Adam Gilchrist during a 2007 World Cup warm-up match
Photographs: Getty Images