January 15, 2010

Decade review

Why Ponting was voted Player of the Decade

Sambit Bal
Ricky Ponting steadied Australia after some initial jitters, Sri Lanka v Australia, 1st Test, Galle, 1st day, August 31, 2011
Ricky Ponting's case went beyond the numbers alone which were staggering in any  © AFP


Even friends are complaining that Cricinfo's Decade Review went on and on, and having suffered the 2007 World Cup, we know the feeling. In our defence we can only say that it was quite a decade and we were keen to cover as much ground as possible. Now the matter is behind us and we can move on to the next one.

Of course there have been questions about our very concept of a decade. Should the decade not end next year, a few of you asked. We have followed a simple principle: Do we ever refer to the year 1990 as part of the 80s? How then can 2010 be part of the noughties? Of course, there can be an argument to the contrary, but we simply made a choice.

There has been far more passionate debate about the final element in the Decade Review package, and inevitably so. It would have been a surprise had it been otherwise. But the disappointing aspect of it is how parochial some of that debate has been. Whether Ricky Ponting deserved to be the player of the decade is a question that can be asked without being narrow-minded and mean-spirited.

Happily enough for us, not a trace of nationalist bias could be found in our jury. Without breaching the confidentiality of the process, I can reveal a few trends. More Indian jury members gave the No. 1 ranking to Ricky Ponting than Australian ones did, and exactly the same number of Indians and Australians had Sachin Tendulkar among their top three players. Seven of our nine Indian panelists gave the No. 1 ranking to an Australian player, and three No. 1 rankings for Jacques Kallis came from outside South Africa.

I can exercise the liberty to reveal my vote. I didn┬╣t choose Ponting as my No. 1. My player of the decade was Glenn McGrath; for to me it was he more than anyone else who was responsible for Australia┬╣s dominance till 2007. Shane Warne had a strong case too, but he gave up playing one-day cricket in 2003. But Ponting won by an overwhelming margin, and in our collective wisdom the right choice was made.

We asked the jury to choose the Player of Decade on the basis of quality of their performances, consistency and durability, contribution to their team's overall performance, and the impact they had on the game on the whole. Ponting's case went beyond the numbers alone which were staggering in any case. He led, both with the bat and on the field, Australia to two World Cup wins, and his fire has kept Australia burning even after they lost all their great players apart from him.

It was never a question of who was the best player over a whole career. In a list of all-time great batsmen, Tendulkar and Brian Lara would always be, at least in my book, ahead of Ponting. But their best years were in the 90s. As were Warne's. No batsman has dominated the decade of the bat as much as Ponting.

Cricket is a small community. It must celebrate its greats without reservation or rancour.

Sambit Bal is the editor of ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by rtyecript on (August 24, 2011, 14:50 GMT)

I really liked the article, and the very cool blog

Posted by Hari on (August 19, 2010, 0:05 GMT)

Ponting started his career in 1990's but never scored more runs when the fast bowling legends were in full flow I mean throughout 1990's. He has scored runs in Australia, South Africa and West Indies. He has never scored in a beligerant fashion in Srlilanka, India, Pakistan(I think he never played test match there) and ENgland. How can he be considered in the league of Lara, Sachin or Hayden. Ponting is the overhyped player of decade.

Posted by Swapnil Pampattiwar on (June 21, 2010, 18:41 GMT)

Sambit, You guys haven't selected Ricky Ponting in Australia's all time great XI then how can you declare him as the greatest player of the decade? Don't you think that its contradictory? Ponting has always failed against their biggest rival India while Sachin always scored heavily against Australia(best team). Sachin scored 120 and 90+ in 2 finals in CB series in Australia which lead India a series win. How can you forget his 103* against England in fourth innings chasing 387 successfully? How can you forget his 200* in ODI against SA? I agree that with Ponting, Australia won most of their matches. But the reason is Ponting had great fellow batsman like Hayden, Gilchrist, Clark, Hussey, Symonds with him. All of them are match winners. While Sachin has always been a lone ranger for India, still he managed a lot of victories. To win matches you need to have have good bowlers. Now compare Australian bowlers with Indian bowlers. For me Sachin is the best player of all time.

Posted by Smiddy2232 on (March 21, 2010, 2:01 GMT)

Ricky Ponting being picked for player of the decade was an ok pick. He has taken on the job of being captain after Steve War which was a pretty hard job. He has lead Australia into winning many titles and has done a great job in scoring runs for Australia. Ponting is not my favourite player but he has earned my respect and has done a great job as captain.

Posted by hatrick26 on (March 4, 2010, 2:12 GMT)

I disagree with Ponting being the player of the decade. My vote goes either to his compatriot Mcgrath or Kallis(a genuine allrounder). Ponting has a abysmal record in India and an away average of 50 whereas is Oz avg is 60 in tests. Aus/SA always play about 5-6 tests in Oz/SA respectively, a set schedule, which is always an advantage for him or Kallis. Ponting has played about 19 more tests in Oz than away whereas SRT/Dravid has high away tests than India..please look it up if I am lying. He is an avg. batsman away from Oz - simple fact. Any Ponting lover, please care to explain on why is that. Tendulkar,Dravid & Lara have comparable avgs away from home. I am Indian and do not have SRT, Dravid anywhere close to the top as well so I am not biased. I am not sure why CricInfo staff do not take that into account. Again, I am yet to see Ponting play a "out of the world,lone warrior" 2nd innings in ODI great innings when the going is tough as he scored only about 8 100s out of his 29.

Posted by jaimaruti on (February 27, 2010, 6:43 GMT)

Ponting, cricketer of the Decade? hahahahahaa.... I will say it "Joke of the Decade", ask me. Ponting never faced world class bowlers and he only started playing well after 2003 when most dangerous bowlers either retired or were close to it. Secondly to Indian jurors who showed that an Indian will never support fellow Indian. Ponting always played but relied on his bowlers and he used to use his negative tactics on other team players. Australians luck always comes when they need it, due to it they either escaped loosing a match or won . Ponting always won matches only by batting first and it shows how defensive is he?. I really feel bad not for Indian did not get that award ,but for not giving it to Kallis. Lets see how will ponting win this year Ashes. I bet after loosing ashes in Australia, he will retire from cricket. However, Ponting is a world class player and one of the greatest player of cricket history, but not the greatest of all players

Posted by Rohit on (February 26, 2010, 23:54 GMT)

To me, Murali was a shocking exclusion from the Top 3. Never in the history of the game are we going to see a bowler take as many wickets as he did in 1 decade. He has single handedly made Sri Lanka a force to reckon with, and put an additional competitive team on the world map. His impact on the game is much greater than McGrath, Kallis and Gilchrist. Kallis is huge in numbers, but not in perceived impact. And Gilchrist faded away significantly post 2007.

Posted by Sandeep on (February 26, 2010, 12:23 GMT)

To all those who think Ponting is not good enough..is just a shame to be called a cricket fan because looking not at the stats only but as a captain supporting the team he is a frontliner. Look at the captaincy of great players like tendulkar,ganguly and their team stats...then finalise the results. now talking about the team, certainly the team was of great players but in the end it is team game not one player doing all the things.. even team india got players of great talent in the last decade but were not a good team.

Posted by Alwyn George on (February 26, 2010, 9:28 GMT)

To those who were speaking about Ricky ponting being the most single factor for Australian dominance and to those who were speaking about his 'staggering ' statistics, I got a few questions to ask... Australian dominance in the past decade cannot be attributed to 2-3 persons alone.. Ricky ponting, Mathew Hayden, Gilchrist, Andrew Symonds, Justin Langer, Michael Hussey, Warne, McGrath, Lee, Johnson etc. All of them were match winners. The dominance of a team does not depend on a few players alone, its the overall contribution of the entire team and they were the best in their performances. And about Ricky's staggering statistics, he did not have to face the two greatest bowlers of the past decade; McGrath and Warne, unlike others. One last question, what happened to Australian dominance now? Ricky's still out there, right?

Posted by Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui on (February 18, 2010, 16:40 GMT)

Suppose if we count only 50% test career of Tendulkar only then again it is equivalent to or more than others. His career looks like that two batsmen are playing. Even batsmen are unable to score 20 centuries normally but he scored almost 50 centuries.

First batsman in history with 50 or plus scores are 100 or more. First one with 50 or plus scores with 10000 or more runs in history. It is not his sole responsibility to win match, there are elven players totally. He will very soon break another record of Lara with 150 or plus scores 20 times. At a moment he has 18 such scores. He scored 10 centuries against Australia with only one with six centuries at their home ground. He has ability to prove himself in other continents too. His all runs are in grounds which are 100% beneficial for team. If we see big picture then I think he is no. 1 or no. 2 batsman of all-time in test matches and only one with equal balance in one day and test.

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Sambit Bal
Editor-in-chief Sambit Bal took to journalism at the age of 19 after realising that he wasn't fit for anything else, and to cricket journalism 14 years later when it dawned on him that it provided the perfect excuse to watch cricket in the office. Among other things he has bowled legspin, occasionally landing the ball in front of the batsman; laid out the comics page of a newspaper; covered crime, urban development and politics; and edited Gentleman, a monthly features magazine. He joined Wisden in 2001 and edited Wisden Asia Cricket and Cricinfo Magazine. He still spends his spare time watching cricket.

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