Ricky Ponting becomes Australia's leading run-getter in Tests

Prolific and consistent against allcomers

Considering how consistently prolific Ricky Ponting has been, it was only a matter of time before he became Australia's leading run-getter

S Rajesh

July 31, 2009

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Ricky Ponting sweeps, England v Australia, 1st Test, Cardiff, 2nd day, July 9, 2009
Ricky Ponting has an excellent record in all countries except India © Getty Images
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Considering how consistently prolific Ricky Ponting has been over the last eight years, it was only a matter of time before he went on to become Australia's leading run-getter in Tests. The moment finally came when he flicked Andrew Flintoff through midwicket for three runs to go past Allan Border's record of 11,174 on the second day at Edgbaston. Only Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar are above him in the all-time list, and Ponting has a fair chance of passing them too before he is done.

With the amount of cricket being played these days, it's only to be expected that most of these aggregate records will be broken due to the sheer number of matches that cricketers play. However, Ponting deserves his record, not only because of the runs he has scored, but also because of the rate at which he has got them: his average of 56.22 is the highest among the top 18 run-getters in Test cricket. (Garry Sobers, with 8032 runs at 57.78, is the first batsman in the list with a higher average.)

It's true that Ponting didn't have to face some of the best bowlers from his era, but he has played enough tough innings in difficult conditions to suggest he would have handled Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne with a fair degree of success as well.

A look at Ponting's progress to the record reveals his outstanding consistency. His average had hovered in the late 40s for much of his early career, but after touching 50 in his 66th Test (averages at the end of the Test) against West Indies in 2003, it has stayed above that mark ever since. (Click here for his career summary.)

Ponting's journey to the record
Runs Tests Average* 100s/ 50s
2000 32 48.25 6/ 9
4000 61 49.13 14/ 16
6000 78 54.71 20/ 22
8000 100 57.71 28/ 32
10,000 118 58.72 35/ 40
11,188 134 56.22 38/ 46
* Averages at the end of the Test in which he achieved the landmark.

Ponting's consistency extends to his record against each of the opposition teams - he averages more than 47 against every side, and more than 44 in every country where he has played more than one Test except in India. (Click here for his career summary.)

His record in India is the one black mark in an otherwise spotless career - in 12 Tests in that country, he has an aggregate of 438 runs and an average of 20.85. Everywhere else, he has been immense.

There's a theory that Ponting struggles against high-quality spin bowling, and while his stats against Harbhajan Singh justifies that argument - Harbhajan has dismissed him ten times in 12 Tests, the highest among all bowlers - Ponting has done remarkably well in Sri Lanka, averaging more than 54. One of his two centuries there was against Pakistan, but his average against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka is impressive too - 50.11 in six Tests.

Ponting's Test stats in each country
Host country Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Australia 73 6276 60.93 20/ 30
Bangladesh 2 191 95.50 1/ 1
England 16 1166 44.84 4/ 3
India 12 438 20.85 1/ 2
New Zealand 3 293 97.67 1/ 1
Pakistan 1 119 119.00 0/ 1
South Africa 9 867 54.18 3/ 4
Sri Lanka 7 599 54.45 2/ 3
UAE 2 194 97.00 1/ 0
West Indies 8 1014 78.00 5/ 1
Zimbabwe 1 31 31.00 0/ 0

Ponting is also one of only five Australian batsmen to score more than 7000 runs at a 50-plus average - Allan Border, Steve Waugh, Matthew Hayden and Greg Chappell are the others. (Don Bradman just misses out, but he is in a league all by himself.)

The five Australian batsmen who've scored more than 7000 Test runs at a 50-plus average
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100/ 50s
Ricky Ponting 134 11,188 56.22 38/ 46
Allan Border 156 11,174 50.56 27/ 63
Steve Waugh 168 10,927 51.06 32/ 50
Matthew Hayden 103 8625 50.73 30/ 29
Greg Chappell 87 7110 53.86 24/ 31

Among these five batsmen, the three who've played most recently - Ponting, Hayden and Waugh - have been a part of winning team far more often than the others. Ponting, Waugh and Chappell, though, have contributed more in victories than the other two, with averages exceeding 60 in Tests that Australia won. Border's average in wins is the lowest, but that's also because for much of his career, he had to fight dogged battles to stave off defeats. Only five of his 27 Test centuries came in wins, but 16 of them helped Australia draw, and in drawn games his average shot up to almost 69.

The five Australian batsmen in wins
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Ricky Ponting 89 7683 61.95 27/ 32
Steve Waugh 86 6460 69.46 25/ 25
Matthew Hayden 71 6154 55.44 23/ 19
Greg Chappell 38 3595 70.49 14/ 16
Allan Border 50 3186 51.38 5/ 23

In terms of contribution to the team's runs, Chappell had the highest percentage among these five, scoring more than 16% of Australia's runs scored off the bat. The numbers are very similar for Ponting and Hayden, while Waugh is down at 12.81%, a reflection of the strength of the other batsmen during his era, and also of his position in the batting line-up.

Percentage of team runs scored by these batsmen
Batsman Runs Team runs Percentage
Greg Chappell 7110 43,643 16.29
Matthew Hayden 8625 57,250 15.07
Ricky Ponting 11,188 74,256 15.04
Allan Border 11,174 74,837 14.93
Steve Waugh 10,927 85,332 12.81

Apart from Hayden, all these batsmen had significant stints as captains too, and none of them allowed that added responsibility to affect their batting. Ponting leads the way with an average of almost 57 as captain. Chappell follows closely, while Waugh's numbers as captain are particularly remarkable for his conversion rate: overall in his career, Waugh scored 32 hundreds and 50 fifties, but as captain the ratio changed significantly - 15 centuries, and only ten fifties.

Performances as captain
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Ricky Ponting 59 5367 56.49 18/ 25
Greg Chappell 48 4209 55.38 13/ 19
Steve Waugh 57 3714 52.30 15/ 10
Allan Border 93 6623 50.94 15/ 36

Another 1585 runs separates Ponting from Tendulkar, as does four Test hundreds. If Ponting does finally get those records, there should be no argument about whether he deserves them.

All stats updated till Ponting's dismissal in the first innings of the Edgbaston Test.

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.
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