Michael Jeh January 14, 2010

Ponting pulls ahead of the rest

As he nears the end of a brilliant career, Ponting will need to decide if he will go down in flames, hooking and pulling like a man still in his pomp, or whether he can shelve the ego and grow old gracefully (in a cricketing sense)
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Ricky Ponting’s instincts, footwork and eye make him a magnificent sight when taking on the short ball © Getty Images

Let’s get one thing straight up front. Ricky Ponting will forever be remembered as one of the greatest batsmen to have ever played the game. That much will never be questioned, regardless of what he achieves in the twilight of his career. He has also been one of the best attacking players of short bowling; not just competent at avoiding it like Steve Waugh, Allan Border, Rahul Dravid and others, who generally eschewed the hook and pull strokes, Ponting’s instincts, footwork and eye make him a magnificent sight when taking on the short ball.

What will be interesting to see is what old age will do to Ponting. Or put differently, what will Ponting do with old age?

I write this post just as Ponting was dropped on nought on the hook shot (again) and then promptly played an ambitious pull a few balls later. Clearly, ego, instinct or his own unwavering self-belief will not allow the older Ponting to put those shots away early in his innings, despite recent failures and much commentary on that very issue. A young man he is no longer but perhaps someone forgot to tell him. Or perhaps he just won’t listen.

As he nears the end of a brilliant career, Ponting will need to decide if he will go down in flames, hooking and pulling like a man still in his pomp, or whether he can shelve the ego and grow old gracefully (in a cricketing sense). He will be defying just about every other great modern batsman before him if he chooses to take the road less travelled, the path that will see him continue to attack the short ball, regardless of pitch conditions, age or field placements.

Players like Steve Waugh, Sachin Tendulkar, Richie Richardson, prolific players of the hook and pull shots in their prime, faced similar conundrums as age crept up on them. All three chose a more conservative approach, either playing the shot judiciously (Tendulkar), virtually giving it away (Waugh) and crashing spectacularly (Richardson). I can’t recall what Viv Richards did towards the end of his career but like Border, he did drop down the order in the fading years.

Matt Hayden probably kept playing those booming pull shots all the way to the end but his technique was essentially different to Ponting. He didn’t hook instinctively but he tended to muscle his pull shots, sometimes off the front foot, sometimes even in the arc between midwicket and mid-off. To him, it was almost a deliberate statement of intent, of domination, of complete contempt rather than Ponting’s instinctive swivel.

Ponting clearly has no intention of going quietly. Not for him, the gentle drop to No. 5 or 6 in the order and a career that finishes off in quiet accumulation mode, still as efficient as ever but lacking the rollicking strokeplay of youth. Tendulkar is very much in that mode now, almost more reliable than he ever was but happy to let the memories speak for themselves. Brian Lara was heading that way when he pulled up stumps and other instinctive players of these back-foot shots like Aravinda De Silva and Inzamam-ul-Haq certainly found themselves too slow or too wise to keep having a crack at every short ball as they neared their inevitable retirements.

If you can think of any other great batsmen who voluntarily changed their game to cope with advancing years (especially if they gave away their pet shots), please write in and tell us. I'm sure there will be some fascinating histories to mull over.

As I conclude this post, Ponting is still at the crease on 10 not out, still playing the shot with mixed success. No doubt, Pakistan will continue to pepper him for the duration of his innings. It was always a high-risk strategy, bowling short to Ponting. Only time will tell if the risk premium has now swung against Ponting for the first time in his life.

As for my money, I’m still not prepared to bet against him. Having missed him early, I reckon he might just go on to make them pay. Whatever happens, his wagon wheel in the fine leg to midwicket area will have plenty of lines on it I daresay.

(Note: The article was sent in by the author well ahead of Ricky Ponting's century during the first day's play between Australia and Pakistan in Hobart.)

Michael Jeh is an Oxford Blue who played first-class cricket, and a Playing Member of the MCC. He lives in Brisbane

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • executive escorts on August 25, 2010, 5:59 GMT

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  • jogesh99 on January 23, 2010, 23:44 GMT

    "Let’s get one thing straight up front. Ricky Pnting will forever be remembered as one of the greatest batsmen to have ever played the game." - Which is why one keeps needing to say it?

  • Pradip Kumar Dhole on January 20, 2010, 20:03 GMT

    It is very difficult to disagree with the comments of Michael Jeh about Ponting's undoubted mastery over the hook and pull shots.I feel that he has derived a significant percentage of his imposing run aggregate from these shots.However, it is difficult to understand his weakness against spin bowling,specially off spin bowling, given his long and illustrious career.In marked contracst is Michael Clark with his aggressive and decisive footwork and better reading of the spinners.If,at the very end of Ponting's career,any criticism can be made of his technique,the criticism will,surely,revolve around his surprising meekness against the spinners,even the lesser accomplished ones.A peculiar paradox in an otherwise masterful batsman!

  • The Middle Stump on January 20, 2010, 2:12 GMT

    Cricket is a team game. The aim is to win. In test matches that is achieved by scoring runs quickly and DISMISSING the opposition TWICE in the limited time. Sachin and Ponting scored fast, thus helping the bowlers. Kallis did not. But sub-continental cricket followers forget that there are three components to cricket - batting, bowling and fielding. Sadly all sub-continent cricketers think their job is done when they score a bag full of runs or fill a bag with wickets. The dominance of Australia through the 90s and 00s was due to their fielding. Positions in the Australian team over that era have been based on excellent fielding as well as being able to bat or bowl. Tight fielding by Australia has strangled opposition batting and made their bowlers appear better than they really were. Fielding gave Australia a record success rate in tests and made possible their world cup wins. Ricky Ponting is one of the best fielders of all time. Imagine if India could field.

  • Mike on January 18, 2010, 13:14 GMT

    I was surprised to see Punter take the title-so I looked into it.Surely the panel of world players & judges must know what they are talking about.Well,having examined stats,my memories, & articles I believe he's a worthy recipient.What a player and why would the rest of the world want to deny the title going to an Australian when they have been so far and away the team of the decade?Think about it.Any team over the past decade would take a series win against Aust over any other and the most prized scalp in any innings would be that of Ricky Ponting.My only comment is that there is an intrinsic favoritism towards batsmen over bowlers (let alone keepers!)in this sort of award. McGrath was the best paceman-longevity & fitness amongst his awesome attributes of control, bounce & subtle movement.We saw perhaps the best offie (Murali)& leggie(Warne) ever;but what does a keeper have to do to win?Gilchrist reinvented the role. Top keeping to Warne & McGrath & match-winning & devasting batting.

  • Andrew on January 16, 2010, 12:45 GMT

    Andy V - what are you on?! You pull out your selective stats just because you don't like Ponting?? Pontings overall away record is excellent. Why don't you talk about his test strike rate which incidentally is quite a bit higher than Tendulkar and monumentally higher than Kallis and Dravid. Give me a match winner any day over one that bats for his average! Give us all the facts next time.

  • JamesK on January 16, 2010, 8:32 GMT

    Andy V I don't know where you get your stats, but your comments are completely wrong.

    "of his 32 100s in this decade over 25 has come in aus"

    In fact, of his 32 test hundreds this decade, 17 have been in Australia and 15 outside of Australia. In OD matches, he has 11 centuries in Aus and 12 elsewhere.

    "Outside of aus (WI, SA, Eng, SL & india) his average is very meagre in comparison to tendulkar/kallis or others"

    Ponting has a better test record than Tendulkar in SA, WI and Sri Lanka this decade. Tendulkar shades him in England. He beats Kallis in SL, WI and England. Kallis wins in India.

    I use these wild things called statistics instead of repeating what I got told by mates at the pub that sound good. You should try it, thankfully the people who vote on awards like Player of the Decade actually do this.

    Go ahead, challenge yourself.

  • peter56 on January 16, 2010, 1:47 GMT

    As Ian Chappell said Lara was the one true great who never compromised he was still playing the same way in his last full series against pakistan at 37 3 tests 448 runs at 89.60 including a double that left Danish kaneira awestruck and another ton that was at the time the 9th fastest ever in tests at 23 in his first full series he got the famous 277 of which Allan border commented "that has to be in the grand final of the greatest innings" incidentally who else ever got a double ton in their first FULL series and their last FULL series nearly 15 years apart I have to agree with Geoff Boycott who in over 50 years in cricket said that he has only seen 3 absolute geniuses Sobers,Viv,and lara and sachin next in 4th remember for the last 16 years of his test career Sobers batting average was 63

  • Anu on January 15, 2010, 22:03 GMT

    Hi Larry,

    Sorry. I did not mean in the sense of 'inventor of the shot'. He has used the upper cut as an alternative to a short ball without being dismissed till date.What I find worth appreciating is Sachin plays the upper cut to the ball coming on to his face! (if you can watch his video on youtube to the deliveries bowled by Brett Lee and Ian O'Brein). Brett lee being exceptionally fast,I would say thats one attribute of batsmanship which is to watch the ball till the last nano second.I am also interested if any batsman of any other era delayed playing a particular kind of shot.The current generation has not much seen cricket of the older generation!

  • John on January 15, 2010, 16:37 GMT

    Shriram mate show me one player wit a perfect record?Tendulkar and dravid both average in mid 30s in bouncy south african wickets does that shows they cant play the bounce?Who gives jack about pontings average in india against harbhajhan when he averages over 50 in sl against murali.Off u go

  • executive escorts on August 25, 2010, 5:59 GMT

    It was rather interesting for me to read the blog. Thanx for it. I like such topics and anything that is connected to them. I definitely want to read more on that blog soon.

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  • jogesh99 on January 23, 2010, 23:44 GMT

    "Let’s get one thing straight up front. Ricky Pnting will forever be remembered as one of the greatest batsmen to have ever played the game." - Which is why one keeps needing to say it?

  • Pradip Kumar Dhole on January 20, 2010, 20:03 GMT

    It is very difficult to disagree with the comments of Michael Jeh about Ponting's undoubted mastery over the hook and pull shots.I feel that he has derived a significant percentage of his imposing run aggregate from these shots.However, it is difficult to understand his weakness against spin bowling,specially off spin bowling, given his long and illustrious career.In marked contracst is Michael Clark with his aggressive and decisive footwork and better reading of the spinners.If,at the very end of Ponting's career,any criticism can be made of his technique,the criticism will,surely,revolve around his surprising meekness against the spinners,even the lesser accomplished ones.A peculiar paradox in an otherwise masterful batsman!

  • The Middle Stump on January 20, 2010, 2:12 GMT

    Cricket is a team game. The aim is to win. In test matches that is achieved by scoring runs quickly and DISMISSING the opposition TWICE in the limited time. Sachin and Ponting scored fast, thus helping the bowlers. Kallis did not. But sub-continental cricket followers forget that there are three components to cricket - batting, bowling and fielding. Sadly all sub-continent cricketers think their job is done when they score a bag full of runs or fill a bag with wickets. The dominance of Australia through the 90s and 00s was due to their fielding. Positions in the Australian team over that era have been based on excellent fielding as well as being able to bat or bowl. Tight fielding by Australia has strangled opposition batting and made their bowlers appear better than they really were. Fielding gave Australia a record success rate in tests and made possible their world cup wins. Ricky Ponting is one of the best fielders of all time. Imagine if India could field.

  • Mike on January 18, 2010, 13:14 GMT

    I was surprised to see Punter take the title-so I looked into it.Surely the panel of world players & judges must know what they are talking about.Well,having examined stats,my memories, & articles I believe he's a worthy recipient.What a player and why would the rest of the world want to deny the title going to an Australian when they have been so far and away the team of the decade?Think about it.Any team over the past decade would take a series win against Aust over any other and the most prized scalp in any innings would be that of Ricky Ponting.My only comment is that there is an intrinsic favoritism towards batsmen over bowlers (let alone keepers!)in this sort of award. McGrath was the best paceman-longevity & fitness amongst his awesome attributes of control, bounce & subtle movement.We saw perhaps the best offie (Murali)& leggie(Warne) ever;but what does a keeper have to do to win?Gilchrist reinvented the role. Top keeping to Warne & McGrath & match-winning & devasting batting.

  • Andrew on January 16, 2010, 12:45 GMT

    Andy V - what are you on?! You pull out your selective stats just because you don't like Ponting?? Pontings overall away record is excellent. Why don't you talk about his test strike rate which incidentally is quite a bit higher than Tendulkar and monumentally higher than Kallis and Dravid. Give me a match winner any day over one that bats for his average! Give us all the facts next time.

  • JamesK on January 16, 2010, 8:32 GMT

    Andy V I don't know where you get your stats, but your comments are completely wrong.

    "of his 32 100s in this decade over 25 has come in aus"

    In fact, of his 32 test hundreds this decade, 17 have been in Australia and 15 outside of Australia. In OD matches, he has 11 centuries in Aus and 12 elsewhere.

    "Outside of aus (WI, SA, Eng, SL & india) his average is very meagre in comparison to tendulkar/kallis or others"

    Ponting has a better test record than Tendulkar in SA, WI and Sri Lanka this decade. Tendulkar shades him in England. He beats Kallis in SL, WI and England. Kallis wins in India.

    I use these wild things called statistics instead of repeating what I got told by mates at the pub that sound good. You should try it, thankfully the people who vote on awards like Player of the Decade actually do this.

    Go ahead, challenge yourself.

  • peter56 on January 16, 2010, 1:47 GMT

    As Ian Chappell said Lara was the one true great who never compromised he was still playing the same way in his last full series against pakistan at 37 3 tests 448 runs at 89.60 including a double that left Danish kaneira awestruck and another ton that was at the time the 9th fastest ever in tests at 23 in his first full series he got the famous 277 of which Allan border commented "that has to be in the grand final of the greatest innings" incidentally who else ever got a double ton in their first FULL series and their last FULL series nearly 15 years apart I have to agree with Geoff Boycott who in over 50 years in cricket said that he has only seen 3 absolute geniuses Sobers,Viv,and lara and sachin next in 4th remember for the last 16 years of his test career Sobers batting average was 63

  • Anu on January 15, 2010, 22:03 GMT

    Hi Larry,

    Sorry. I did not mean in the sense of 'inventor of the shot'. He has used the upper cut as an alternative to a short ball without being dismissed till date.What I find worth appreciating is Sachin plays the upper cut to the ball coming on to his face! (if you can watch his video on youtube to the deliveries bowled by Brett Lee and Ian O'Brein). Brett lee being exceptionally fast,I would say thats one attribute of batsmanship which is to watch the ball till the last nano second.I am also interested if any batsman of any other era delayed playing a particular kind of shot.The current generation has not much seen cricket of the older generation!

  • John on January 15, 2010, 16:37 GMT

    Shriram mate show me one player wit a perfect record?Tendulkar and dravid both average in mid 30s in bouncy south african wickets does that shows they cant play the bounce?Who gives jack about pontings average in india against harbhajhan when he averages over 50 in sl against murali.Off u go

  • DJ on January 15, 2010, 13:33 GMT

    Why can't we just appreciate Ponting for what he is - One of the all-time great batsmen. Why do we always have to compare Tendulkar, Lara and Ponting and belittle the others to make the one we support look better. I am greatful I have seen them all play. they have all had their great periods and their troubles. Let's just be greatful for those that are the last of the truly great batsmen. It was a pleasure to see someone graft through a form slump and not simply try to blast their way out. With t20 we will be lucky to see batsmen of this class 10 years from now. yes they will play every shot known and then some, but I for one enjoy watching a battle between bat and ball and the occasional leave! Well done Ricky on a great day and a great career, let's hope there are a few more hundreds in you yet.

  • smart saola on January 15, 2010, 11:55 GMT

    being oonly 25 i never really glanced at the batting on viv richards, got a little bit of steve waugh and more sachin tendulkar. ricky ponting however stands ouut as one the greatest batsman of my generation. if i have to stretch a bit i can also say its sometimes exciting watching him pull. it might be dangerous but it has regularly paid off for him.so why change a winning fomula.

  • suresh on January 15, 2010, 10:01 GMT

    well, i guess few of u r forgetting the fact that ponting is not just the a great batsman but has also outplayed even steve waugh when it comes to captaincy...certainly he desrves to be the plyer of the decade for the fiercely competetive nature he's deployed over the years...even the recent ind-aust series in oct2009...it was another display of what an outstanding captain and a player tht he is. yes, all the above mentioned players r exceptional in thier own way...but this man is certainly the best...

  • Anonymous on January 15, 2010, 9:36 GMT

    Statistically speaking, Ponting is no doubt the batsman of the last decade; but I think Dravid's contribution has been more important to the Indian team than Ponting's has been to the Aussie team. Ponting was surrounded by a lot of very good players, and had McGrath and Warne to back up the runs made. Dravid may have been surrounded by some great batsmen, but India was always short on the bowlign front. Also, even after the likes of McGrath, Hayden, and Warne retired, the Aussies still managed to intimidate their opponents by their aura. The Indian team had no such luxury; infact they began the decade in the worst possible manner. This is nothing to take anything away from Ponting ofcourse, who, I think, is one of the finest batsmen Australia have produced.

  • Larry on January 15, 2010, 9:24 GMT

    Anu, while Sachin played the 'upper cut', as you called, with style, panache, and great effect, he did not invent it. It has been around for many, many years, although few batsmen have played it as often as Sachin.

    I recall many years ago watching and England side with Bob Willis and Ian Botham bowling having 3 fly slips and two slips set to Bruce Yardley, IIRC in Perth, as Yardley continually and deliberately carved them over the slips for boundaries.

  • Younis on January 15, 2010, 8:50 GMT

    I am South African born but support Australia for the last 13 years. My best batsman will and will always be Punter, yes there is debate to wheteher he is the best player of the decade but in saying that he is a true master not only as a batsman legend but as a captain, player and a cricket tactioner and the results cannot be argued. Comments were made about him not being able to play quality spin and being able to perform in sub continents like India which to a degree is true but all great players struggle in some aspect of cricket eg even a great like Tendulkar was troubled by Glenn Mcgrath at times my point is that each player is fragile in some way. Wrapping up what I have to say regardless of whay]t people think of Punter a player and captain of his stature will not be forgotten

  • Sach on January 15, 2010, 8:00 GMT

    How could you forget Aravinda de Silva? He never was afraid to pull or hook throughout his career, and I think he reached more than one hundred with that shot. In 2003 WC, the last year of his cricketing career, at the age of 38, he still had to do so. I still remember his two brutal sixes against the screaming 155+ Kmph deliveries of Brett Lee. Age didn't matter for him.

  • faisal on January 15, 2010, 6:29 GMT

    I am really glad to see a lot of indians are admitting the greatness of ponting. This is better as it refers they start to get the point.If at the begining of the decade anybody mention another name along with lara & sachin then it would be considered as foolishness but during last ten years another one had emerged into this modern group of greats. Honestly you really can't decide who is the best among these three.I know dravid is a wall.yosuf is amazing,kalis is kalis,but definately they are not along with those three.

  • Shriram on January 14, 2010, 22:18 GMT

    Until Ponting shows mastery of Indian conditions, he cannot be considered a complete batsman regardless of how well he does or not play the pull shot. Dravid, Sachin, VVS have all mastered Australian conditions, but has Ponting mastered Indian conditions, specifically high quality spin bowling on turning tracks? Cricket is not only about fast bowling; the ability to play slow bowling on turners is also needed in test cricket.

  • Anu on January 14, 2010, 20:19 GMT

    You did not mention that Sachin has invented upper cut for the short ball.It fetches him a couple or more 4s in his long innings.

  • Michael Jeh on January 14, 2010, 20:01 GMT

    Aditya, I take your point. I suppose I was deliberately talking about "attacking" the short ball whereas I suppose guys like Gavaskar, Border, Waugh (and many others) faced those West Indian pace batteries with great courage and distinction but they rarely hooked their way out of trouble consistently. That's the point of my article. Having said that, Ponting probably started his career at the tail-end of the great Windies fast bowling quartets although he did encounter Wasim, Waqar, Shoaib, Donald, Pollock, Harmison and some other good quicks but never in that relentless fashion that the West Indies dished out in their heyday. It would have been interesting to see how he coped with it coming all day, without a break. Also, I always wondered how Viv would have played against his own attack. That would have been a great 'fantasy' match.

  • Siddhartha Banerjee on January 14, 2010, 18:34 GMT

    @Aditya,

    The term short pitched bowling would typically refer to the deliveries which are aimed at the body, which would have the batsman ducking for cover to avoid getting hurt, or employ the pull and hook shots (though that cannot be done all the time). The ones outside off would be classified as rank long hops, or just a waste of energies in trying to bowl short, primarily because the batsmen would have no chance/ fear of getting hurt and can just throw his bat at it. For example, when it is said that Suresh Raina cannot play short bowling - it does not mean that he cannot play the square cut or the upper cut, it means that he cannot play the hook or the pull shot..

  • Siddhartha Banerjee on January 14, 2010, 18:25 GMT

    "I can’t recall what Viv Richards did towards the end of his career..." - Viv Richards continued playing the way he had always known to play, but his consistency went down as his reflexes slowed and the hand-eye coordination decreased. If my memory serves me right, in his last 3 years of international test cricket he scored just one century and less than a thousand runs in about 20 test matches. Off the topic here, but thats where I really admire Tendulkar - he has realized his limitations with the injury problems he has had, modified his game to look like an accumulator, and still has a S/R of over 90 in ODIs and 55 in tests.

    "If you can think of any other great batsmen who voluntarily changed their game...". One great that comes to mind is Gavaskar, and surprisingly, he became lot more attacking in the latter half of his career, though his consistency went down. In his first 52 tests, he had 20 centuries and 5000 runs, but took another 73 to score the next 5000 with 14 centuries..

  • Ananth V. Iyer on January 14, 2010, 17:40 GMT

    Ponting's greates weakness was against offspin bowling. No othet great batsman of this or earlier ear was considered as the greatest ever with such an obvious failing. He is a great batsman but to suggest that he was greatest ever is little far fetched. Sachin, Lara, Richards, Greg Chappell to name a few did not have an obvious chink in their armour. We have to keep in mind that he did not have to fact the fast bowlers of Windies in their prime or the Australian bowling.

  • kandy on January 14, 2010, 17:33 GMT

    Ponting is one of the best batsmen ever but I think this particular piece is totally over the top and sometimes even plain wrong :). The writer liked the pull shot that Ponting played. And it should just have stopped at that rather than crowning him the king of pull.

  • Partha Desikan on January 14, 2010, 17:27 GMT

    Your suggestion that Ponting continues to play in the same style while the other equally batsman did not does not sound correct. Among the great batsmen of Ponting’s era (Sachin, Lara), it is Lara who never changed from the attacking mode, despite the fact that Lara played in a weaker team in comparison. With the exception of one innings against India in WI, where WI had to draw a test, Lara almost always played aggressively. It is evident from the record that he shares with Bradman&Sehwag. All three of them play pace bowling well. When it comes to quality spin, Ponting is suspect while Lara was better than even Sachin (proof is M Murali).Ponting initially failed while trying to be aggressive against the spin, but later adjusted his style to be accumulator against spinners. His recent records in Srilanka and India are prooof this. However, the greatness of Ponting is in the fact that he registered more test wins that Waugh, especially with a much weaker team.

  • deepak on January 14, 2010, 15:51 GMT

    For me Sachins pull and hook shots at the beginning of his career were just out of the world stuff;obviously he cut down lot shots due to injury; I thought Ponting more classier than other Aussie batsmen but no were near the beauty of Sachin;Sachin pulled greater bowling periods which ended by the time Ponting entered the stage.I remember Ponting playing beautifully on the leg side though in his younger days!I remember Vinod Kambi falling down to west Indies bowlers repeatedly in a Test Match in early nineties but once sachin entered the crease simililar deliveries pulled and hooked for boundaries and with effortless beauty, unlike Ponting's more mechanical stuff.

  • Manas on January 14, 2010, 15:50 GMT

    I agree with most of your article, but you were a trifle unfair to Rahul Dravid. It's true that he leaves a lot of short balls, but he has got a tremendous pull shot -- transfers weight onto the backfoot, swivels and rolls his wrists over the ball to keep it down. Perhaps the only Indian who plays the pull shot so regularly and so well, especially on S African and Oz pitches.

  • John on January 14, 2010, 14:35 GMT

    I wonder if any of the players that you mentioned actually were ever so unanomously pronounced 'player of the decade' by their peers... Hmmmmmmmmm

  • MeatAxe the Subtle on January 14, 2010, 14:32 GMT

    Ricky doesn't strike me as the sort of player who will temper his game to accommodate slowing reflexes. Not that he couldn't do that if he chose to, the man has an eye like a dead fish. He could, I think, develop a strategy to cope with the short ball other than trying to smack it into orbit. If he so desired. The trouble is that would make playing cricket more of a job than a joy and I get the feeling Ricky will not go down that road. I love watching him bat because he is unbelievably organised, skilfull and courageous in his shot making. And it seems plain to me that he really enjoys playing the game. People talk about his pull shot, which has been majestic, and his lazer precise cover drive gets a mention now and then, but what about that crouching, swivel pull/paddle sweep to bring up the hundred? That's the one I love. He's be doing it for ten years, but no-one seems to rate it.

    Congratulations Ricky. A surprise winner for many, but a worthy one nevertheless.

  • Mohamed Sharief on January 14, 2010, 14:23 GMT

    Hi, i am indian. But i support australian cricket. i saw all australian matches. last 10 years, ponting is the best player in the world. so he selected the best player of the decade. WELL DONE RICKY PONTING.

  • Chris on January 14, 2010, 14:19 GMT

    The problem for Ponting is that the pullshot has been his defining stroke over the course of his career. Nobody in the history of the game made it look easier. There have been better batsmen (only a handful at best, mind), but not better exponents of that particular shot.

    For Ponting to give up the hook would be like Dravid giving up the forward defensive. It's a shot that so characterised his batting that for Ponting to play without it would be like it wasn't Ponting playing at all.

    Every great batsman had something that set him apart in his prime. For the likes of Border or Dravid, it was his sheer grit. For the Waughs, it was their elegance and composure respectively. For Hayden and Lara, it was the way they imposed themselves on opposition bowlers so completely. For Ponting, it was the ease with which he dispatched of the short ball.

    Unfortunately, age can make fools of us all. Ponting may have to make a tough decision at some point. But at 137*, not too soon, it seems.

  • Arif Hussain on January 14, 2010, 14:11 GMT

    Two of the greatest exponents of playing the short ball were arguable IVA Richards and CG Greenidge... if memory serves, Richards never wore a Helmet in his Career...

  • steward on January 14, 2010, 13:13 GMT

    Ponting has always been the beneficiary of bad umpiring decision,particularly in Australia.He is unworthy of the great batsman label that bias Australians used to describe him,good maybe,not great.Like his predecessors Steve Waugh,and Alan Bordes,he lingers on playing over 140 odd test matches,accumulating runs with no substance.

  • venkat reddy on January 14, 2010, 13:08 GMT

    I certainly dont think that Ponting is the greatest of the decade. There are certainly far too many greater than him. Analyse the numbers and you get a simple truth, Ponting was always good coming behind, Hayden and Langer. After these two retired from the scene his numbers have dipped. Added to that, his woeful record against top class spin bowling. Smashing the Poms doesnt make you the greatest. Kallis was certainly the most important player of this decade followed by Dravid.

  • Andy V on January 14, 2010, 12:59 GMT

    How can one become player of decade purely on stats. of his 32 100s in this decade over 25 has come in aus. Outside of aus (WI, SA, Eng, SL & india) his average is very meagre in comparison to tendulkar/kallis or others. Plus he has played a lot more matches than others.

  • Rob Moody on January 14, 2010, 12:02 GMT

    Steve Waugh gave up the hook shot after the 88/89 series vs WI, well before his prime. Never hooked again.

    Viv Richards hooked all the way to the end, some of his hooks and pulls in his final 2 test series were full of authority, as you'd expect. Merv Hughes tried to bounce him at Barbados, Viv hammered him. DevonMalcolm got hammered worse in 1990 by Viv, and in his final test series in 1991 Viv was ruthless on anything short.

  • faisal on January 14, 2010, 11:49 GMT

    You knew it was coming.The thumped arm might rose some dispute about his absolute mastery and for first two hours it was rightly so but then he unleash them,those beauties.I winced for first 50 balls,feels saying like king agamanon-"this man wants to die" when achilles tried to invade the beach of troy with 50 man, but like him ponting showed his billigerence. The master is back on a day when he is bestowed with a title of "the player of decade".He is no hector,a hero worshiped by every countryman like sachin,even he is no Steve waugh,cool like 1000 year old ice,he is punter,the achilles of cricket.He will always play like the way he had played because that is what he is,a great,maybe the greatest!

  • pradeep kumar on January 14, 2010, 11:22 GMT

    when ever ponting used to play the pull short .its always looks like effort less.he loves the challenge as well as other peoples or media discuss about him.other greats like sachin, brian lara,rahul dravid,mahela & kalis all these players should talk to him about hook short,no doubt mohammed yusuf wont get sleep to night. ponting will be the nightmair of him as well as pakistani bollers.

  • Aditya Naikdesai on January 14, 2010, 11:01 GMT

    "one of the best attacking players of short bowling; not just competent at avoiding it like Steve Waugh, Allan Border, Rahul Dravid and . . . . ."

    are you suggesting that the term short bowling applies only to deliveries to which the only shot that can be played is the pull shot? Steve Waugh was one of the best players off shot pitched bowling on the off side . . . so was G. Vishwanath, Sachin and a lot many more. Heck, you even completely chose to ignore Gavaskar who played some of the most hostile fast bowling (with no limit on bouncers) in the West Indies - without helmets!!!

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  • Aditya Naikdesai on January 14, 2010, 11:01 GMT

    "one of the best attacking players of short bowling; not just competent at avoiding it like Steve Waugh, Allan Border, Rahul Dravid and . . . . ."

    are you suggesting that the term short bowling applies only to deliveries to which the only shot that can be played is the pull shot? Steve Waugh was one of the best players off shot pitched bowling on the off side . . . so was G. Vishwanath, Sachin and a lot many more. Heck, you even completely chose to ignore Gavaskar who played some of the most hostile fast bowling (with no limit on bouncers) in the West Indies - without helmets!!!

  • pradeep kumar on January 14, 2010, 11:22 GMT

    when ever ponting used to play the pull short .its always looks like effort less.he loves the challenge as well as other peoples or media discuss about him.other greats like sachin, brian lara,rahul dravid,mahela & kalis all these players should talk to him about hook short,no doubt mohammed yusuf wont get sleep to night. ponting will be the nightmair of him as well as pakistani bollers.

  • faisal on January 14, 2010, 11:49 GMT

    You knew it was coming.The thumped arm might rose some dispute about his absolute mastery and for first two hours it was rightly so but then he unleash them,those beauties.I winced for first 50 balls,feels saying like king agamanon-"this man wants to die" when achilles tried to invade the beach of troy with 50 man, but like him ponting showed his billigerence. The master is back on a day when he is bestowed with a title of "the player of decade".He is no hector,a hero worshiped by every countryman like sachin,even he is no Steve waugh,cool like 1000 year old ice,he is punter,the achilles of cricket.He will always play like the way he had played because that is what he is,a great,maybe the greatest!

  • Rob Moody on January 14, 2010, 12:02 GMT

    Steve Waugh gave up the hook shot after the 88/89 series vs WI, well before his prime. Never hooked again.

    Viv Richards hooked all the way to the end, some of his hooks and pulls in his final 2 test series were full of authority, as you'd expect. Merv Hughes tried to bounce him at Barbados, Viv hammered him. DevonMalcolm got hammered worse in 1990 by Viv, and in his final test series in 1991 Viv was ruthless on anything short.

  • Andy V on January 14, 2010, 12:59 GMT

    How can one become player of decade purely on stats. of his 32 100s in this decade over 25 has come in aus. Outside of aus (WI, SA, Eng, SL & india) his average is very meagre in comparison to tendulkar/kallis or others. Plus he has played a lot more matches than others.

  • venkat reddy on January 14, 2010, 13:08 GMT

    I certainly dont think that Ponting is the greatest of the decade. There are certainly far too many greater than him. Analyse the numbers and you get a simple truth, Ponting was always good coming behind, Hayden and Langer. After these two retired from the scene his numbers have dipped. Added to that, his woeful record against top class spin bowling. Smashing the Poms doesnt make you the greatest. Kallis was certainly the most important player of this decade followed by Dravid.

  • steward on January 14, 2010, 13:13 GMT

    Ponting has always been the beneficiary of bad umpiring decision,particularly in Australia.He is unworthy of the great batsman label that bias Australians used to describe him,good maybe,not great.Like his predecessors Steve Waugh,and Alan Bordes,he lingers on playing over 140 odd test matches,accumulating runs with no substance.

  • Arif Hussain on January 14, 2010, 14:11 GMT

    Two of the greatest exponents of playing the short ball were arguable IVA Richards and CG Greenidge... if memory serves, Richards never wore a Helmet in his Career...

  • Chris on January 14, 2010, 14:19 GMT

    The problem for Ponting is that the pullshot has been his defining stroke over the course of his career. Nobody in the history of the game made it look easier. There have been better batsmen (only a handful at best, mind), but not better exponents of that particular shot.

    For Ponting to give up the hook would be like Dravid giving up the forward defensive. It's a shot that so characterised his batting that for Ponting to play without it would be like it wasn't Ponting playing at all.

    Every great batsman had something that set him apart in his prime. For the likes of Border or Dravid, it was his sheer grit. For the Waughs, it was their elegance and composure respectively. For Hayden and Lara, it was the way they imposed themselves on opposition bowlers so completely. For Ponting, it was the ease with which he dispatched of the short ball.

    Unfortunately, age can make fools of us all. Ponting may have to make a tough decision at some point. But at 137*, not too soon, it seems.

  • Mohamed Sharief on January 14, 2010, 14:23 GMT

    Hi, i am indian. But i support australian cricket. i saw all australian matches. last 10 years, ponting is the best player in the world. so he selected the best player of the decade. WELL DONE RICKY PONTING.