Waugh: Outgoing Ponting is one of the great captains

Ashes defeats won’t take gloss off former skipper’s reign, says fellow Aussie legend

FORMER Australia batsman Mark Waugh believes outgoing skipper Ricky Ponting will go down as one of his nation’s great captains, despite him overseeing three Ashes series defeats.

Ponting, 36, stood down from the position he had held for eight years yesterday but announced his intention to stay on as part of a side he expects to be led by Michael Clarke.

The Tasmanian’s major achievements, chiefly two World Cup successes and an unprecedented win rate of 47 victories from 77 Tests at the helm, are often overlooked as a result of three tumultuous series defeats against England.

But Waugh, who played alongside Ponting during his early days as captain, argued: “His record as captain is very good. His winning ratio is extremely high. Statistically he’s going to go down as one of Australia’s great captains, no doubt about it.

“He’s a great leader of men, he’s got a lot of respect from the players and he’s a great player. You’ve got to say that he’s going to look back with great pride and adulation at what he’s done as captain.”

Defending his own record, Ponting added: “It’s funny how we talk about losing the Ashes series three times. Playing on three World Cup winning teams doesn’t come up very often, winning 16 consecutive Test matches doesn’t come up very much, winning 30-odd consecutive World Cup matches doesn’t come up very often.

“I know what I’ve achieved in the game and I’m very proud of it.”

Sri Lanka set up perfect send-off for Murali

SRI LANKA captain Kumar Sangakkara hailed bowler Muttiah Muralitharan as an “icon” as his side cruised into their third World Cup final with a five-wicket win over New Zealand.

The match, played in Colombo, was the last to be played by Muralitharan on home soil before he retires from the game after Saturday’s final against either Pakistan or India, who meet in Mohali today. The spinner, far from fully fit, took two for 42 as the Kiwis were restricted to 217 all out and Sri Lanka eased home with 13 balls left.

Sangakkara, who scored 54 and won the man-of-the-match award, said: “Murali is the icon of Sri Lanka - as a champion, a cricketer and a human being He is the ultimate team man. You cannot ask for anything more than that.”