Ricky Ponting's international retirement November 29, 2012

'Ponting among the top five I bowled to' - Harbhajan


Harbhajan Singh, who shared a famous rivalry with Ricky Ponting, has described the former Australia captain as "one of the top five" batsmen he has bowled against. Harbhajan, who dismissed Ponting the most number of times - 10 in 14 Tests - said not only the Australian players but even opponents respected him a lot because of his aura.

"Ponting will be in my top five Test batsmen ever against whom I played," Harbhajan said. "He was the kind of cricketer who could win matches on his own. An outstanding fielder, his body language throughout his career is something we all look up to. He brought so much passion and enthusiasm to the field each time he walked in. That earned him command as a leader and a lot of respect for what he has achieved."

Ponting might have been the best Australia batsman of his generation, but his record in India was far from sparkling and a big reason was his struggle to succeed against Harbhajan. Ponting, who featured in six tours in India between 1996 and 2010, averaged 26.48 in the country, with 662 runs in 25 innings with just one century in Bangalore in 2008. In the memorable 2001 Test series, Harbhajan captured Ponting in each of the three Tests in which the batsman managed just 17 runs in five innings.

According to Harbhajan, the problem could have been more mental than technical. "Before that 2001 Border-Gavaskar Trophy where I got him in all the three Tests, I had got the better of Ponting in the first warm-up match when he went for a drive and was caught at short mid-wicket. Wherever, whenever we played, I managed to get his wicket by bowling decent balls. I feel when you get out to one particular bowler, it plays on the batsman's mind regardless of the pitch conditions."

Harbhajan admitted the relationship between him and Ponting never changed from the adversarial one which was established first in the 1998 tri-series in Sharjah involving India, Australia and New Zealand. Harbhajan, playing in his debut series, had been hit for a couple of sixes by Ponting. But the offspinner bounced back by deceiving Ponting in the air and got him stumped. Ponting, unimpressed by Harbhajan's send-off gesture, reacted aggressively. Both men were fined by the match referee with Harbhajan missing the next game. It was the beginning of a long-standing rivalry which reached its peak during the Monkeygate incident on India's 2007-08 tour of Australia when Ponting was captain. However, Harbhajan said he held no grudges against Ponting.

"Me and Ricky were never friends, but I have a lot of respect for him and for what he has done for cricket," Harbhajan said.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Priyanku on December 1, 2012, 18:55 GMT

    I dont know what's the problem for some with an article on bhajji's comment on ricky.Seems these people dont know how to read between the lines.actually this is a very important article depicting the spirit of cricket.It is a very open-book type,frank and honest remark from a bowler showing respect for a batsman''s contribution to the game,despite the presence of so much crystal-clear arrogant rivalry between the two both on and off the field.bhajji is honest to reveal they have not been friends,but really generous to accept and admire his contribution to the game.otherwise bhajji could have simply claimed his own greatness by saying something like"here goes somebody who always remained my favourite bunny".thank u cricinfo for showing an example of spirit of cricket by publishing this special article. and for the general information,any spinner with around 100 tests and more than 400 wickets is no ordinary cricketer.

  • Dummy4 on December 1, 2012, 11:23 GMT

    great player poor capt. thats ricky should have done better with the players he had under him. good luck for the future.

  • Dummy4 on December 1, 2012, 5:42 GMT

    Definitely a great batsman, though got a decent team also( not as good as Steve Waugh). Force competitor may be a little too much though.

  • Baskar on December 1, 2012, 4:35 GMT

    Far too competitive for me but obviously a great batsman by any standard one uses. Hope he is a nice bloke off the field.

  • Steve on November 30, 2012, 19:41 GMT

    So the end comes for another class act. Thank you Punter for all the entertainment you've provided and let's hope you go out with a big one against South Africa. Over to you Tendulkar......

  • Shiv on November 30, 2012, 15:33 GMT

    Well said Bhajji, respect for a player specially when just retired will do Ricky good.

  • Rob on November 30, 2012, 14:49 GMT

    Good point dinosaurus @ (November 30 2012, 11:45 AM GMT) , although whatever a player does in their career against whatever opposition it is how they do against India in the 'subcontinent' that matters and nothing else (self absorbed and bewildering narcissim). Punter is probably a nice bloke off the pitch, however I found his mannerisms and temper tantrums irritating- however he was a great batsman and fielder AND a good loser post match no excuses just an honest appraisal if the opposition wins over a test/series they generally deserve it.

  • Redmond on November 30, 2012, 14:19 GMT

    @Village Blacksmith - 48 wins as captain from 77 tests, yeah that record stinks. The Ashes losses were regrettable but they featured a talismanic presence by the name of Andrew Flintoff and he led a completely rebuilt team in the second loss. Some questions remain over key decisions during some of those Tests but to call him a "poor" captain is way over the mark.

  • Pad on November 30, 2012, 13:59 GMT

    When a great player retires, there always someone to write a political article to spoil it lol... its like indirectly a message by an Indian writer... Now look Aussies, your star batsmen retiring had a problem .... Its like when Murali retired, some Aussie writer put an article highliting that he did not have a good enough record against Aussies lol ...

  • Raju on November 30, 2012, 13:09 GMT

    To Blueanglle : While all the bowlers you have mentioned were real greats, it is silly to ask who is Harbhajan to comment on Ponting. After playing nearly 100 tests, taking over 400 wickets which include Ponting 10 times in 14 tests, this question is foolish.

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