38 Thursday, 3 September 2009 London Lite LITESPORT Flying home Ricky risks losing the captaincy, declares Thommo RICKY PONTING has gambled with the Australian captaincy by skipping the first-half of ODI series against England, according to Aussie legend Jeff Thomson. Michael Clarke, viewed as the obvious long-term candidate to succeed the two-time Ashes loser, will continue to take charge of the side until Ponting returns halfway through the series. Pontings Facebook status cur- rently reads: Having a great rest and have managed to clear the mind a lot. Watched a lot of AFL on the weekend and really fancy Gee- long to win the flag. Suchcommentsdontsitwellwith Thomson (below), a veteran of 51 Tests, who has already accused Ponting of deserting a sinking ship. Pontinghasalreadyindicatedhe wouldnt be averse to splitting the Test and one-day captaincy with Clarke, but Thomson believes the 34-year-old risks losing the lot. Hesaid:Rickysleftthedoor open for Michael hasnt he? Ive said before it doesnt look good for the captain to go home after los- ing the Ashes. Im not really sure what his reasons are for going home, but hes taken a massive gamble. EXCLUSIVE BY JAMES GOLDMAN Flowerconfident KPwillbefitfor SouthAfricatour ENGLAND coach Andy Flower believes Kevin Pietersen will be back for the tour to South Africa but doubts whether Andrew Flintoff will play for the nation again. Pietersen was forced out of the Ashes with an Achilles injury and the 29-year-old had to sit and watch the final win at The Oval in a protective boot (right). He will miss the one- day series against the Australians starting tomorrow but Flower said: I spoke to KP yesterday but I think we are confident he will be back for South Africa. Sometimes you never know what is good or bad luck. It is enforced time away from the game and he didnt want it, but since its there and there is nothing anyone can do about it, I think he has made the most of it. He is spending time with his family and his wife and getting a break. Flintoff made his exit from Test cricket at The Oval and immediately underwent knee surgery. Although the all-rounder intends to return for one- day games, Flower said: I really hope he does. If he can come back and play for us and bat at six or seven and bowl like he can bowl, that will make us a force to be reckoned with in one-day cricket. Whether he will or not I dont know, I just hope he does. BY DAVID DIBBLE LONDON IRISH captain Bob Casey today warned his London Irish players they are marked men before Saturdays season- opening clash against Saracens at the Twickenham double-header. Irish lost the Premiership final 10-9 to Leicester last season and Casey knows the other three capital clubs will be out to rob them of their new-found Londons Pride status. Casey, who is still following the no carbs after mid-day diet that helped him shed more than a stone over the past year, said: This is a big season for guys like Delon and Steffon Armitage and Nick Kennedy who are now in the England set-up. Like the rest of the squad, they have to recognise that we are a marked team having made the top two. It will take an even bigger effort to get back to the final again because we are more of a known quantity and that makes this season a massive challenge. We have every confidence we are up to the task. There comes a time when the learning stops and you have to start winning the silverware. Thats what we aim to do this season. The Heineken Cup is a big target and I believe we are equipped, as a squad, to make a big impact. When I saw the first fixture was away in Dublin against my old team Leinster, it BY NEAL COLLINS TomorrowSalevLeicester(7.45pm). Saturday(BothgamesatTwickenham) SaracensvLondonIrish(2.30pm), WaspsvHarlequins(5.15pm). SundayNorthamptonvWorcester(1.15pm, SS2),LeedsCarnegievNewcastle(3pm), GloucestervBath(3.30pm,SS2). PREMIERSHIP OPENERS I dont know how hard the selectors are looking at the captaincy issue, but he cant complain if he comes back and under Clarke were run- ningawaywiththeseriesand theselectorsarereluctantto give it back to him. Whoever leads Australia outattheOvaltomorrow,the full house will just be praying that they get to see some live cricket after the farcical events at Old Trafford on Tuesday. After the abandonment of the first game on Sunday, the second one went the same way when the bowlers run-ups were deemed unsafe by the match officials. Both captains were unwilling to risk the safety of their pacemen onaslipperysurface--butalittle over 16 hours later, albeit on a differentstrip,afull28overswere Casey warns his Exiles: We will be Pontinghasalreadyindicatedhe wouldnt be averse to splitting the Test and one-day captaincy with Clarke, but Thomson believes the 34-year-old risks Hesaid:Rickysleftthedoor open for Michael hasnt he? Ive said before it doesnt look good for the captain to go home after los- reasons are for going home, but hes taken a massive I dont know how hard the selectors are looking at the captaincy issue, but he cant complain if he comes back and under Clarke were run- ningawaywiththeseriesand full house will just be praying that they get to see some live index.html2.html3.html4.html5.html6.html7.html8.html9.html10.html11.html12.html13.html14.html15.html16.html17.html18.html19.html20.html21.html22.html23.html24.html25.html26.html27.html28.html29.html30.html31.html32.html33.html34.html35.html36.html37.html38.html39.html40.html41.html42.html43.html