Australia v Pakistan, 1st Test, Melbourne, 5th day December 30, 2009

Record-breaking Ponting hails 'outstanding' win

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Ricky Ponting knows the winning feeling better than any other player in the history of Test cricket. But on a day when he broke the records for the most wins by any Test player and the most victories for any Test captain, Ponting called the 170-run triumph over Pakistan one of the team's best in a long while, and praised his young attack for as good a bowling effort as the side had displayed in the last two years.

When he came in to the team as a young man in the mid 1990s, Australia were just embarking on a decade of dominance. The list of men to have played in the most Test victories is revealing, as the top eight are all Australians of that brilliant era. The win over Pakistan took Ponting to 93, passing Shane Warne's mark of 92.

It also gave Ponting his 42nd success as a Test captain, surpassing Steve Waugh's world record. But since the retirements of Warne, Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist, Justin Langer, Matthew Hayden and various other golden-era colleagues, things have become much tougher for Ponting. He has lost the Ashes for a second time, succumbed at home to South Africa and seen his team slip as low as fourth on the ICC Test rankings.

If nothing else, the dizzying highs and gut-wrenching lows have given him perspective. And so, after his developing side dominated Pakistan for five days at the MCG, with career-defining efforts from Shane Watson and Nathan Hauritz, Ponting was full of praise for his men. He was especially pleased with the performance of his bowlers, who have for three years struggled in the shadows of Warne and McGrath, and are finally becoming their own men.

"The bowling through the game has been as good as it's been in our team for the last couple of years," Ponting said. "The way we bowled in the first innings in particular was just outstanding. The way we used the new ball and we were able to maintain our discipline and execute our skills over such a long period of time at the start of their first batting innings was a real factor in the game.

"It's been a great game for us. It's one of our best Test wins in quite a while, starting right from the start of the game from the Katich and Watson partnership which really set the platform and set the foundation for a very good Test match for us."

The highlights were many. Watson scored his first Test century on top of 93 in the first innings; Ponting, Simon Katich, Michael Hussey and Hauritz all scored half-centuries; Hauritz collected his maiden five-wicket haul; and Mitchell Johnson continued to regain some of the spark he lost during the Ashes.

Coming after a tightly-contested series against West Indies, the dominant display was well-timed. There's also a bigger future to consider: Australia have only six more Tests before they attempt to regain the Ashes at home next summer. Until then every win, every positive that can be taken from a match, will be seen as a stepping stone.

"We are building a squad of players right at the moment that in a couple of years time are going to be a very dominant team again," Ponting said. "At the moment it is my job to keep the group together and keep challenging them and keep helping the younger guys out and keep winning as many games of cricket as we can."

Ponting was keen to celebrate the individual efforts from several of his newer team-mates at the MCG, but less effusive about his own record-breaking achievements. He said he was proud of the milestones but was unlikely to really appreciate them until he stopped playing.

"They're things I'll probably be most of proud of when I'm done," he said. "We all play to win games of cricket and be involved in a team that is winning games of cricket. They're things I'm very proud of, hopefully there are a lot more wins around the corner and if we play the cricket that we've played over these five days then we will definitely win a lot more games."

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • sammykent on January 1, 2010, 7:42 GMT

    Australia's poor second innings performance is becoming a bit of a problem. In addition they have been in perilous situations against both Pakistan and the West Indies. Sure they came out on top but they have hardly looked clinical against either opposition. Thankfully the selectors have stuck with Bollinger and Hussey and also persisted with Watson as opener. At the beginning of a Test match between the top seven teams in the world you are looking at almost even money odds and that is a great thing. Ponting has had a great career to date and is looking as good as ever. Vettori is just astonishing. Dhoni is a awesome. Gayle is a force. Strauss is the consumate professional. How good is test cricket now things have levelled out.

  • zak_india on December 31, 2009, 13:16 GMT

    talking of pressure situations ... probably you do not realise the pressure from the expectation of a billion fans is far more than any match situation. Ponting has never had to face such a situation.Moreover if tendulkar is weak against quality fast bowling, Ponting is pathetic against mediocre spin bowling.

  • msw010 on December 31, 2009, 6:51 GMT

    Mr.Monthy, if u see by what u say, then tendulkar avg just 32.00 in test against SAF & 42.0 vs PAK / Lara struggled vs DONALD & Co... what u say for that????? both struggled aganst quality fast bowling. both shined against aus bcos apart from Mcgrath quality of fast bowling not so consistent....

  • trenta01 on December 31, 2009, 0:33 GMT

    Note MrMonty in Australia the legend averages 79 agianst the indians and as far as I am aware aren't they rated the best team in the world never having won a test series in South Africa or Australia

  • ray42 on December 30, 2009, 23:56 GMT

    Ponting is a very good batsman. For me Lara is the best batsman in the last two decades though - and we are not talking about captaincy here. Tendulkar is a master class - though I feel he hasn't done enough when the situation demands. Neither was he good against quality bowlers, especially under pressure. When the situation is easy, there is no pressure, Tendulkar can murder any bowler. Not the case with Lara. In the end, no mean feat by Ponting, highest test wins as a captain and a player - he must have done something right. And he's a very good captain, can't do much when your team doesn't perform. Pakistan should seek comfort that they gave some kind of a fight on day 3 and 4. It would have been good for them had Yusuf prolonged the defeat by rotating the strike and trying to take the fight to Australia even at 8 down. I wonder how Steve Waugh, Border, Miandad, Dravid, Lara, Richards would have responded?? I would've bet my life on Waugh or Miandad though.

  • WorldXIGuru on December 30, 2009, 23:41 GMT

    Good to see, Australia has a lot of potential to win despite the loss of golden era colleagues. Watson, Clarke, Haddin, Johnson... wonderfully talented cricketers and future of Australia Cricket

    I see a single important area.. Australians to improve please stop sledging and try to win hearts. Your team will be more liked than 1980's West Indies.

    WINNINGS HEARTS IS MORT IMPORTANT THAN WINNING MATCHES. (Teams England, India, Pakistan owns this quality.. Similarly Sachin, Lara not ponting)

  • CustomKid on December 30, 2009, 22:24 GMT

    Why are people comparing Ponting to Tendulka and Lara when this piece makes no reference to either of those two players?

    It's highlighting some of the developing players contributions to the win as well as the tight bowling performance from a relatively new attack.

    MrMonty I can only assume you're an Indian supporter still struggling to come to terms with your teams inadequacies over the last 50 years? Every player has an Achilles heel. Your living god sachin only averages 35 against South Africa. It can be argued he struggles against tight line and length pace served by Donald, Pollock, and Co. So take your rose colored glasses off.

    As for green jelly that is just a stupid comment. You make your own luck as RP has done his entire career. He would be a quality player at No.3 in any test team over the last 20 years. He shoulders the captaincy as well as filling the most important batting position in the team - give the guy some credit rather than cut him down.

  • TheRealRockNRolla on December 30, 2009, 21:28 GMT

    my sincere congrats to Ricky on this reaching the pinnacle of all achievements for a team game! A lot of praise is due for all the players during his tenure that have rallied around him and seen him as a true leader.

    On the idea of winning, I do however feel that Australians will not be able to save the series and Pakistan will be eventual winners by a margin of 2-1

  • prajwolb on December 30, 2009, 19:09 GMT

    Great to see all Aussie bowlers firing especially Johnson who seemed at his peak once again. Ricky's a great captain and a great batsman. However in order to be compared alongside Lara and Tendulkar, he should consider himself lucky to be in Aussie team. He is a great player of fast bowling but when it comes to facing spinners, he's very vulnerable. Plus he needs to prove his class against India in India. Lara and Tendulkar has performed all around the world against all attacks and are way more talented batsmen. Accept it folks.

  • Boostman on December 30, 2009, 18:43 GMT

    I have lots of respect for Ricky Ponting and his batting achievements but numbers dont lie and since the retirement of the recent aussie greats his batting ability has faded. Dropping almost 15 points from his overall career average. Which poves he was only ever so good because he never had to think as captain, he would just give the ball to McGratch and Warne and they would get him wickets and relieve the pressure. But regardless of what anyone ever says he will only ever be remembered as the man who went to england twice and cocked it up.

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