Australia v India, 4th Test, Adelaide, 1st day

Ricky Ponting is still here to stay

With two centuries in this series, Ricky Ponting assured all that he was not retiring yet, and not off Adelaide Oval until he and the captain Michael Clarke have turned their stand of 251 into something truly gargantuan

Daniel Brettig at the Adelaide Oval

January 24, 2012

Comments: 118 | Text size: A | A


Ricky Ponting is ecstatic after his century, Australia v India, 4th Test, Adelaide, 1st day, January 24, 2012
Ponting: "It was a celebration. I'd just made a Test match hundred so pretty excited about that" © Getty Images
Enlarge

Waiting two innings to follow one hundred with another used to be a common feeling for Ricky Ponting. Thirty-four knocks between Test centuries between 2010 and 2012 ensured that the sense of familiarity ebbed away, and so there was understandable jubilation when Ponting crested three figures on a sweltering day at the Adelaide Oval.

A handful of whispers and a mountain of newspaper copy had spectators, commentators and perhaps even one or two players wondering about the significance of that jubilation, and the first question to Ponting surrounded whether or not there had been any notion of farewell about the gestures.

But the upper cut with bat in hand has been a common signature of Ponting's exultation down the years, and it had perhaps been absent in Sydney because he had first to spit out dirt and turf from his mouth after diving for the crease to reach the mark. Ponting smiled ruefully when fielding that first question, before assuring all that he was not going anywhere yet. Not off into retirement, and not off Adelaide Oval until he and the captain Michael Clarke have turned their stand of 251 into something truly gargantuan.

"It was a celebration. I'd just made a Test match hundred so pretty excited about that, I haven't scored a lot of those in the last few years, which I've read a lot about lately as well," Ponting said with a grin. "It is always nice to make a hundred, especially today when we didn't get off to the ideal start, Pup (Clarke) and I had to play a certain way and get us back into the game, so it was a good celebration, but I generally do a similar one most times.

"I felt I played better today than I did in Sydney as well, probably a better wicket to bat on than Sydney was, there wasn't much in it for the Indian bowlers, no sideways movement for the quicks, not a lot of spin, a little bit of reverse swing during the middle of the day, but we've had a pretty good day. We have to win the first hour tomorrow and make sure this first innings is a big one."

This was the most fluent Ponting seen for some time, arguably since he passed 70 three times in four innings against India on the subcontinent in late 2010. Gaps were pierced regularly, few false strokes were played, and the march to the century felt rather more inevitable than the nervy dash for the line at the SCG. For all that there was evidence of Ponting's evolution, the greater care with which he starts an innings, the selection of shots to play more judicious than dismissive, the enjoyment of milestones as events no longer inevitable. Pondering whether he is still the same batsman of his pomp, Ponting reasoned that it had been impossible to stay the same.

"Am I still the player I was? I'm not sure," Ponting said. "You guys can answer that, you've seen me over a long period of time, but at the end of the day I think if I can keep making Test match hundreds or having an impact on winning games for Australia then that's what I'm all about at the moment. It is interesting to ask the same question about Sachin (Tendulkar) or the same question about (Rahul) Dravid or (Jacques) Kallis, the guys the same sort of age as me that are still out there playing Test cricket.

"We've probably all realised that we can't play the same way forever, right through our careers and I don't think there's been anybody that has been able to do that through 160 Test matches. But I'm giving it my best shot to be the best player I can be, and to win games for Australia, and if I can keep playing like I did today then hopefully there's more runs around the corner."

 
 
Am I still the player I was? I'm not sure. You guys can answer that, you've seen me over a long period of time
 

More runs will likely arrive in the company of Clarke, who was fluent on a ground where he has never failed to score runs, not even in last summer's Ashes fiasco when he managed 80 in the second innings. Ponting reflected on how well the duo had worked together since the captaincy handover, a change that has styled Clarke as the on-field general and Ponting the spiritual leader.

"I just think we're both grown-ups, and I know my place in the team, Michael's the leader now and I've stepped back from all that responsibility I once had," Ponting said. "I said when I first did it that I'm used to sitting back in the corner and being told what to do anyway, and it's been no different over the last few months.

"I know there was some negativity around from people on the outside but I don't think anyone in Australian cricket or the team had any doubts about the way we'd work together at all. I'm around to try to help the younger guys at the moment and any advice if Michael needs it, but I don't ever go and impress myself upon him, he's the leader and I'm the No. 4 batsman and second slip fielder and I'm quite enjoying that role."

No. 4 is a position that both Clarke and Michael Hussey before him struggled to make their own, but Ponting is finding its modicum of extra distance from the top of the order valuable. He even countenanced the possibility that it will extend his career, to the West Indies and beyond.

"It probably can, the last couple of years being the captain and batting at three was getting more and more difficult for me," Ponting said. "I was spending a lot more time in the field than I probably had done before and I guess not winning as many games and not having things go exactly to plan like I did for the majority or my captaincy career before that. Not being the captain now and having that little bit of extra time between change of innings to sit back and relax and take it all in has probably been good for me."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

RSS Feeds: Daniel Brettig

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by shix on (January 27, 2012, 12:44 GMT)

I want to remember one thing to Mr.klassy, ponting captained Australia for almost 9 years, and he scored 13000+ runs in 1day international and also in tests. we all know the performance of sachin when he was a captain and how many matches he won, how much he scored.also dravid, kallis captained only few matches. even lara, leading WI for 3, 4 yrs. ponting managed the two departments well compared to his competitors.

Posted by Juniorklassy on (January 26, 2012, 6:32 GMT)

i just dont understand aussie fans...!! what does a match innings means ? its a 11 men game & a single players unless getting support from others cant win a match.. so the concept of Match winning innings by an indivisual all is rubbish..!! give me one instance where only ponting has scored hundred n aus have won ? or Sachin has scored a hundred & India has won ?.. its just impossible.. n about ponting, well we knw how pathetic a captain / batsman(to some extent) he was.. when he had the comforts of Warne / lee / Mc Grath / Hayden / Gilchrist / Langer / Martyn, he was on top n once all these players retired Aus dropped to no 4 / 5 in test & so did pontings batting... this proves he cant perform under immense pressure..! so...let him come to INDIA & score some valuable runs then we will decide is he or not a gr8 player...!!

Posted by TJM101 on (January 25, 2012, 13:33 GMT)

@Patchmaster - So after Lords where Harmison nearly broke his nose, apart from the 150+ at Old Trafford, the 190+ in Brisbane in '07, the 140 odd at Adelaide in '07 and 150 at Cardiff in '09, plus numerous 50s I'd agree he hasn't bothered ENG at all... I'd say ENG worked him out in the last Ashes but that unfortunately is about it. Hopefully Anderson and Broad will continue the success next time around but to me, Ponting looks re-juvenated without the burden of captaincy.

Posted by Juniorklassy on (January 25, 2012, 12:49 GMT)

Cpt.Meanster : we saw what a match winning innings he played against India in the WC in INDIA... !! Cheers mate :-)

Posted by Juniorklassy on (January 25, 2012, 12:45 GMT)

i just dont understand aussie fans...!! what does a match innings means ? its a 11 men game & a single players unless getting support from others cant win a match.. so the concept of Match winning innings n all is rubbish..!! give me one instance where only ponting has scored hundred n aus have won ? or Sachin has scored a hundred & India has won ?.. its just impossible.. n about ponting, well we knw how pathetic a captain he was.. when he had the comforts of Warne / lee / Mc Grath / Hayden / Gilchrist / Langer / Martyn, he was on top n once all these players retired Aus dropped to no 4 / 5 in test & so did pontings batting... this proves he cant perform under immense pressure..! so...let him come to INDIA & score some valuable runs then we will decide is he or not a gr8 player...!!

Posted by karthik_raja on (January 25, 2012, 12:37 GMT)

@ravi-1967.. As an Indian, given the situation.., Do we really need to worry abt Australian's pblms.??

Posted by Meety on (January 25, 2012, 12:00 GMT)

@csowmi7 "The only current player who has a chance albeit slim chance to overtake Tendulkar in tests is Kallis." - WRONG! Kumar Sangakkarra! Kumar is getting better with age, he got to 9,000 test runs SEVEN innings quicker than Sachin. Assuming Sachin retired now, he could get there in 4 years, he is way fitter than Sachin & he could play a lot later in life than the Little Master.

Posted by Meety on (January 25, 2012, 11:53 GMT)

@dildar4 - several things. Firstly IMO - G Chappell & Border were the next best batsmen post-Bradman, Ponting had the greatest 5yr form bubble of all time (Bradman excluded). @LazloWoodbine - IMO, Lara shone the brightest, but in the end longivity means that he is overtaken by SRT/Kallis & maybe Punter. @ravi-1967 - mate your in denial! Oz's situation is nowhere near as bad as India's AND, we've shown much more inclination to regenerate than India. India have NOT bottomed out yet. They'll play on with their old timers who'll have fewer & fewer good days & once the away tests start again India will be in the same boat - only 2 years later!!!! == == == On the Ponting/Tendulkar debate, they crossed 12,000 test runs in the EXACT same amount of innings! Sometimes Punter less, sometimes SRT. At 13,000 runs, SRT is about 9 innings ahead. Class batsmen, been a pleasure to watch. I've actually enjoyed Sachin's mental growth, making up for his aging, absolute legend!

Posted by karthik_raja on (January 25, 2012, 11:25 GMT)

@LazloWoodbine.. I agree with u.. Ponting and Lara might b more dominant than SRT.. Even Sehwag/Warner is more dominant than SRT.. :) Bt, whn it comes to consistency and adapting to different pitches,conditions,weather,formats of game.. SRT is definitely better.. Most importantly, its not easy to carry the batting unit as a single man for decades.. Lara knows it.. U better chk with Lara than Kallis.. :)

Posted by dildar4 on (January 25, 2012, 10:33 GMT)

with all due respect to the article and ponting fans (me included), the man is a champion batsman cetrtainly the best australian bat since bradman.

Comments have now been closed for this article

TopTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
Daniel BrettigClose
Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
Tour Results
India v Sri Lanka at Hobart - Feb 28, 2012
India won by 7 wickets (with 80 balls remaining)
Australia v India at Sydney - Feb 26, 2012
Australia won by 87 runs
India v Sri Lanka at Brisbane - Feb 21, 2012
Sri Lanka won by 51 runs
Australia v India at Brisbane - Feb 19, 2012
Australia won by 110 runs
India v Sri Lanka at Adelaide - Feb 14, 2012
Match tied
More results »
News | Features Last 3 days
News | Features Last 3 days