Melbourne:In what could easily be his worst day in the office, Australia captain Ricky Ponting was flayed by former greats and the media here for putting himself ahead of the team.
Aware that Australia's sluggish over-rate in the final Test against India might earn him a one Test ban, Ponting's desperate efforts to set things in order saw him bowling with the part-timers and keeping his pace spearhead Brett Lee out of action for the entire post-tea session.
Former Australia skipper Allan Border, the game's longest serving captain, said Ponting should have attempted to win the match and not worried about his suspension.
"I don't know what to make of all this. They go into the tea break on a high and come out worrying about over rates," Border said.
"They let a golden opportunity slip," he rued.
In 'Sydney Morning Herald', noted cricket writer Peter Roebuck slammed Ponting for sacrificing the country's interest for personal gains.
"In one of the most baffling displays of captaincy seen in the long and proud history of Australian cricket, Ricky Ponting has denied his side a deserved chance of securing a famous victory.
"Rather than pressing home an advantage secured by dint of outstanding swing bowling and inspired spin in a fraught and fascinating afternoon session, the Australian captain preferred to use part-timers. Presumably, it was an attempt to improve an ailing over-rate. Perhaps he was worried about missing the next match," he said.
"Both issues pale into insignificance besides trying with every power at his disposal to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. There was a match to win. To an almost bizarre degree, Ponting lost the plot," he wrote.
Another daily, 'Herald Sun', said Ponting should hang his head in shame for thinking of saving himself first.
"Ponting had every reason to hang his head in shame after allowing India to escape the noose in the crunch fourth Test.
"In his most embarrassing moment in his 48th Test as captain in five years in charge, Ponting opted to worry more about improving Australia's sluggish over-rate than going for broke to try and snare a must-win match when a result was clearly on the line.
"Ponting -- amazingly -- was more concerned about being suspended for next week's first Test against cricketing backwater New Zealand at the Gabba.
"What a joke. With wickets desperately needed, Ponting had to roll the dice and unleash chief strike weapons Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee or Shane Watson immediately after tea," it said.