Ricky Ponting's international retirement November 29, 2012

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

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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

  • cricket-is-best 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.

  • 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.

  • 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_guha 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.

  • phoenixsteve 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......

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

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

  • The_bowlers_Holding 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.

  • redmondlee 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.

  • PadMarley 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_Iyer 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.

  • cricket-is-best 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.

  • 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.

  • 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_guha 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.

  • phoenixsteve 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......

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

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

  • The_bowlers_Holding 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.

  • redmondlee 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.

  • PadMarley 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_Iyer 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.

  • maddy20 on November 30, 2012, 13:04 GMT

    @dinosaurus Agreed. Check the averages of Sachin, Dravid, Laxman in Aus or anywhere else for that matter, and you will know. Before the 2011 debacle, they averaged a lot more, but then age catches up with us all. Doesn't it?

  • dinosaurus on November 30, 2012, 11:45 GMT

    @ Arrow 11,

    By your logic there are precious few Indian players who can be called world class - because until they do great things outside of India they don't deserve to be considered.

  • Unniambady on November 30, 2012, 8:26 GMT

    End of one famous rivalry in the field . Well said Harbhajan Ricky will definately be on of the best batsman on our era and we all will miss him .

  • on November 30, 2012, 8:23 GMT

    lolllllll.harbhajan is great

  • Aussasinator on November 30, 2012, 8:20 GMT

    Nice of Harbhajan to be graceful here. He need not have been, for all the sledging , cheating and trouble Ponting gave him every time there was a series.

  • 777aditya on November 30, 2012, 7:31 GMT

    Dont know what Bhajji is coming from - I remember him saying that he could get Ponting out anywhere. Plus he has been a real troublemaker for the Aussies during Ponting's captaincy - so wonder what Bhajji is trying to achieve here? perhaps a chance to play in Big Bash after being kicked out of the Indian team!

  • Arrow011 on November 30, 2012, 7:17 GMT

    Harbhajan ruined ponting's chances of being a great, without a decent average in india it is improper to say ponting is world class.

  • intcamd on November 30, 2012, 4:51 GMT

    Bhajji should focus on being a top 5 or at least. Top 10 spinner in India right now, rather than. Spouting off about retiring test batsmen. Or else, Bhajji should join Ponting into retirement.

  • Alexk400 on November 30, 2012, 4:39 GMT

    When you are attacking player you always have weakness and you take risks. Ponting always weak against off cutter because there is a big gap. Bhaji's natural action and ishant sharma actions of incutter exposed ponting. Same with vvs laxman. There is no one have perfect defense. Best alll round player was lara. Best attacking player ever is Ponting. He rescued australia million times fron dire straits to winning position with his batting alone. He was truly greatest batsman after bradman. May be lara third. Then sachin just for his record and compact technique.

  • randikaayya on November 30, 2012, 4:07 GMT

    Kudos to Harbhajan for coming out and saying this - SL fan

  • Blueangle on November 30, 2012, 1:59 GMT

    Who is harbajan singh to comment on Ricky Ponting? As if he is the only living legendary bowler. If you really want to know how great player Ricky Pointing was? then you should ask people like Ambrose, Walsh, Kumble, Murali, Waqar and Wasim. People of some standing in international cricket................. hope this will get published

  • PadMarley on November 30, 2012, 1:51 GMT

    Though the numbers are great in Ponting's career, this is why I rate him just a little bit below great Lara and Sachin. You dont loose your wicket 10 times in 14 tests to a bowler like Harbajan Singh!!!! Must have been a short forbia than an issue with talent. Yet... Ponting was great.... he will surely be missed on the test field ! great career and cheers!

  • Biggus on November 30, 2012, 1:34 GMT

    Generous words from one of Ponting's fiercest rivals. It's nice to hear that despite the heat on the ground there is also respect. Both of these players were/are misunderstood I feel, passion could get the better of both of the on the field, but behind the on-field personas I think they're both pretty genuine, nice guys.

  • bridget01 on November 30, 2012, 1:20 GMT

    who cares what Harbhajan says.......arrogant little upstart should have listed the 'top five who smashed me all over the park'!!!!

  • SnowSnake on November 30, 2012, 0:44 GMT

    Cricinfo could have picked a better picture than the one they have selected.

  • unregisteredalien on November 30, 2012, 0:22 GMT

    That would be one of the most self-serving endorsements I've ever read.

  • VillageBlacksmith on November 29, 2012, 23:50 GMT

    As a captain ponting was poor (except for gum chewing), he featured in 3 ashes losses, 2 as captain, and it comes as no surprise that Harbajan says ''me and ricky were never friends''.... There were also many people in Oz who could not warm to him and were embarrassed by him as capt.

  • disco_bob on November 29, 2012, 23:43 GMT

    I think this is Bharji's way of giving the Little Masterâ„¢ a hint.

  • perl57 on November 29, 2012, 23:41 GMT

    Ponting. One of the best to play the game. One of the spoilt brats but take nothing from his batting and fielding. You can say he was the second best during his regime in both batting and fielding.

  • on November 29, 2012, 22:57 GMT

    I really appreciate for your sincerity in acknowledging good without false feelings.

  • EdwinD on November 29, 2012, 22:39 GMT

    In the top 5 that he bowled to??!! I'd like to know the other four....

  • liaqathussain on November 29, 2012, 22:04 GMT

    good to hear the respect for a magnificient player

  • JB77 on November 29, 2012, 21:22 GMT

    Who cares what Harbhajan thinks? Don't put a downer on celebrating a great career by getting the opinion of that fool.

  • gnanzcupid on November 29, 2012, 21:20 GMT

    I don know why media gives undue weightage to the comments of players like bhaji who are not so great. It gives unnecessary media exposure to people of trivial importance

  • David_Boon on November 29, 2012, 19:57 GMT

    Who cares what Harbajan says?

  • RandyOZ on November 29, 2012, 19:41 GMT

    Well played Bhaji. Ponting easily the best since Bradman though, so forget the top 5.

  • on November 29, 2012, 19:36 GMT

    I like Harbhajan's last comment.

  • Unmesh_cric on November 29, 2012, 19:20 GMT

    Harbhajan is on wane right now. But when both Ponting and Harbhajan were at top of their games, Bhajji versus Punter was always an interesting contest. You could figure out that they both disliked each other. There was no secret that Harbhajan would get that extra joy when he got Punter's wicket. Although Bhajji got better of him in Test cricket, Punter did give it back in ODIs.

  • on November 29, 2012, 18:54 GMT

    As a teenage South African, watching Ricky in the late 90s and early 200s destroy us, filled me with annoyance. But even then I had to respect his steely attitude and those glorious pullshots conjured from just short of a length. One of the best modern bastmen, for sure! He has my permission to score a century in Perth, but only if Aus still lose!

  • balajeev on November 29, 2012, 18:50 GMT

    Well, time for Harbhajan to think of a career in diplomacy. Cricket is not an option any more.

  • TheBengalTiger on November 29, 2012, 18:46 GMT

    An average of 26 in India. Shows you all you need to know about Ponting. Great in his own conditions, not so good outside

  • Haleos on November 29, 2012, 18:31 GMT

    Tribute looks good when it comes from a rival. The best rival for that matter. It seems Bhajji has changed a lot. Seems more grounded now.

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  • Haleos on November 29, 2012, 18:31 GMT

    Tribute looks good when it comes from a rival. The best rival for that matter. It seems Bhajji has changed a lot. Seems more grounded now.

  • TheBengalTiger on November 29, 2012, 18:46 GMT

    An average of 26 in India. Shows you all you need to know about Ponting. Great in his own conditions, not so good outside

  • balajeev on November 29, 2012, 18:50 GMT

    Well, time for Harbhajan to think of a career in diplomacy. Cricket is not an option any more.

  • on November 29, 2012, 18:54 GMT

    As a teenage South African, watching Ricky in the late 90s and early 200s destroy us, filled me with annoyance. But even then I had to respect his steely attitude and those glorious pullshots conjured from just short of a length. One of the best modern bastmen, for sure! He has my permission to score a century in Perth, but only if Aus still lose!

  • Unmesh_cric on November 29, 2012, 19:20 GMT

    Harbhajan is on wane right now. But when both Ponting and Harbhajan were at top of their games, Bhajji versus Punter was always an interesting contest. You could figure out that they both disliked each other. There was no secret that Harbhajan would get that extra joy when he got Punter's wicket. Although Bhajji got better of him in Test cricket, Punter did give it back in ODIs.

  • on November 29, 2012, 19:36 GMT

    I like Harbhajan's last comment.

  • RandyOZ on November 29, 2012, 19:41 GMT

    Well played Bhaji. Ponting easily the best since Bradman though, so forget the top 5.

  • David_Boon on November 29, 2012, 19:57 GMT

    Who cares what Harbajan says?

  • gnanzcupid on November 29, 2012, 21:20 GMT

    I don know why media gives undue weightage to the comments of players like bhaji who are not so great. It gives unnecessary media exposure to people of trivial importance

  • JB77 on November 29, 2012, 21:22 GMT

    Who cares what Harbhajan thinks? Don't put a downer on celebrating a great career by getting the opinion of that fool.