India in Australia 2011-12

The No. 3 mutual admiration society

Sidharth Monga

December 7, 2011

Comments: 136 | Text size: A | A

Rahul Dravid and Ricky Ponting shake hands after the toss, India v Australia, 18th match, Champions Trophy, October 29, 2007
Rahul Dravid on Ricky Ponting: "From our perspective I hope he can start a golden run after our series" © AFP
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Players/Officials: Rahul Dravid | Ricky Ponting
Series/Tournaments: India tour of Australia
Teams: Australia | India

When the whole world - it seemed so at the time - was asking Ricky Ponting to retire, the man who had just overtaken him to become the second-highest run-getter in Test cricket was rooting for him to do well against South Africa. Rahul Dravid relates to what Ponting has been going through. Admittedly Ponting's lean run has been longer - 22 months without a Test century - but Dravid has been in that boat, in 2007 and 2008, when he felt the pressure to just hold on to his spot in the side.

"In some ways, having gone through it myself, I found myself cheering for him, wishing for him to do well in South Africa this time," Dravid told ESPNcricinfo before departing for Australia, where he will surely have more notes to exchange with the man himself. Dravid is one of the seven members of the squad to leave before the rest of the side, in order to get acclimatised to the conditions better. "I have been through all that myself, and can easily relate to him. I was watching those Test matches and was in some way hoping that he would score runs. I hoped he would score runs in this next Test match and then take a bit of a break against us."

Interestingly, Ponting himself had asked Dravid to shut out his critics and stay put when he was struggling. "I actually went and found him at the end of the series and said 'don't you even think about retiring' because I just saw some stuff in a few of his innings that suggested he was still a very, very good player," Ponting had said of his meeting with the opposition's No. 3 before the series in India last year. "I just said 'don't let them wear you down, don't let them get you down'."

Dravid faced similar calls for retirement during his struggle - Tony Greig famously and rhetorically asked on live TV if Dravid's final dismissal on the Sri Lanka tour last year was his last. However, he has fought through the period and has scored the small matter of five Test centuries since his 38th birthday, numbers that are a throwback to the era of Graham Gooch if not Jack Hobbs.

Like Dravid, Ponting hasn't looked completely out of sorts. He was in pretty good form on that tour to India, only failing to convert fifties into hundreds. India is a country Ponting has never truly mastered as a batsman but he threatened to do so in Mohali and Bangalore. Dravid agrees. "I think he is still a great player," Dravid said. "He showed in the couple of Test matches that he played against us in India that he is still - I'd say he is still - the best Australian batsman. And when you read his name on the sheet he is still one of the most feared. There is no doubt about it."

Ponting's slump has in a way been similar, albeit longer, in that Dravid used to get starts in those two years but get out before converting them. Ponting has had a rope longer than any other former Australian captain of similar age could have expected. In fact captains hardly get to stay on just as players in Australia. While it says a lot about the quality of replacements available, it also points to how much Ponting is still in love with the game. He is willing to risk getting dropped as opposed to "letting them wear him down".

What Dravid has to say about his period of struggle could just as easily apply to Ponting. "Sometimes it is a confidence thing," Dravid said. "Sometimes things don't go for you. You get a bit of a bad run, you get a couple of good balls, and then you lose a bit of confidence. Maybe your mindset changes.

"However much you know you need to change it, sometimes it just doesn't happen until you can get confirmation through actual scores on the ground. As much as you can hit the ball in the nets and say you are feeling good - and it was the case, I felt really good in the nets a lot of times or even at the start of an innings and I would get out - until you get that confirmation with actual runs on the board, even if it is an ugly hundred, an ugly big score, you can't turn it around."

Except that Dravid is hoping that the confirmation, that big score - ugly or otherwise - doesn't come Ponting's way this summer. "From our perspective I hope he can start a golden run after our series."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas_Atheist on (December 10, 2011, 2:20 GMT)

Ponting gone again LBW. Is he taking leg-stump guard? If not, he should try it so that he can negate his falling to the off-side problem and reduce the chance of bat having to go around his front pad to meet the ball. He'll be saving some time also and most importantly he'll reduce the chance of getting dismissed LBW. May be he should watch how Dravid played in England to get an idea about what I'm saying. This is very sad. But, India has a reputation to bring out of form batsmen back to life. Hopefully, India will live up to its reputation and we get to see some nice scores from Ponting.

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas_Atheist on (December 9, 2011, 23:36 GMT)

@RandyOz, you seem to respect Bradman the most. But, you mean to say that you know more than Bradman? Sachin is not better than Ponting as per you. You may continue to think that Ponting is the second best after Bradman. But why do you have to include Dravid also as the second best after Bradman? You are doing lot of injustice to many greats of yesteryears by including Dravid there. For Eg, Sir Sobers comes to my mind very easily and he is definitely better than Dravid. I don't want to argue with you about Ponting/Sachin and what you want to believe. But don't push Dravid as one of the second best since Bradman. Mr. Bradman would be turning in his grave. I consider myself as probably the biggest fan of Dravid on this planet and I still find your compliment for Dravid as very funny, misplaced and undeserving.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2011, 21:32 GMT)

Dravid and some great Indians are just so generous and Ponting may have to leave cricket 1 day but i hope that he can play against india

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas_Atheist on (December 9, 2011, 18:48 GMT)

@RandyOz, you seem to respect Bradman the most. But, you mean to say that you know more than Bradman? Sachin may not be greater than Ponting as per you. You may continue to think that Ponting is the second best after Bradman. But why do you have to include Dravid also as the second best after Bradman? You are doing lot of injustice to many greats of yesteryears by including Dravid there. For Eg, Sir Sobers comes to my mind very easily and he is definitely better than Dravid. I don't want to argue with you about Ponting/Sachin and what you want to believe. But don't push Dravid as one of the second best since Bradman. Mr. Bradman would be turning in his grave. I consider myself as probably the biggest fan of Dravid on this planet and I still find your compliment for Dravid as very funny and undeserving.

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas_Atheist on (December 9, 2011, 18:36 GMT)

@vbkrish, that's contradictory. Dravid fans love him because he isn't a mean person or a mean cricketer. Dravid fans are happy and proud the way he is.

Posted by thomaswinter85 on (December 9, 2011, 14:11 GMT)

@RajKumarGoyal: I dont think so

Posted by ashlatchem on (December 9, 2011, 12:18 GMT)

@RajKumarGoyal where's Lara?

Posted by RajKumarGoyal on (December 9, 2011, 10:10 GMT)

My dream team for tests(Only players after 2000)with my cricket knowledge.. some body please suggest me if some body deserved a place in this.. 1. Sehwag 2. Hayden 3. Dravid/Ponting/Kallis/Sangakkara (:( why all these guys play @ no3.) 4.Sachin 5.Inzamam 6.VVS 7.Gilchrist 8.Wasim Akram / Walsh 9.Warne/Kumble 10.Murali 11.McGrath. Oh my god.. can any team beat this team.. can this be an all time best test team???

Posted by vbkrish on (December 9, 2011, 7:12 GMT)

Dear Dravid has just overtaken Pointing and now he no.2 next to Sachin. Why he wants Pointing to score more runs. First thing is that Pointing is no more no.3 player.Secondly he should fail against us in the coming series. Kallis is also playing well. To maintain number 2 position, Dravid has to maintain the present excellent form by scoring more runs and centuries,and pray for the failure of both Pointing and Kallis,who are also great players.Dravid shoiuld be selfish atleast in this matter, just for the sake of his innumarable fans.

Posted by bMike on (December 9, 2011, 5:42 GMT)

@jijop & some others: Sangakkara has 50+ overall batting averages both in Aisa & outside Asia. Eventually Sanga become world number one test batsmen only after giving up wicket keeping in test. Since giving up wicket keeping Sanga has averaged 72.02 in test matches whereas his average in outside Aisa is 70.48 & his average in Aisa is 72.83. Only Bradmen has better records than this. Pointing has averaged 57 in Australia whereas his average in Asia is only 39.99. Sanga is a real gentleman & he has no involvement with that Randiv's no-ball case. At the toss in wc finals both captains had thought that they had won the toss at first time as Dhoni hadn't heard( becoz of the noise) Sanga was saying "head". There was no way to toss again if match referee had heard it. But unfortunately match referee or Ravi Shastri hadn't head it either. So no doubt there was no intension of cheating by any one there. In fact Sanga was a law college student by the time he was selected to SL team in 2000

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