Ricky Ponting has been voted Player of the Decade by an overwhelming majority by a jury comprising former and current players and cricket writers.
Ponting got 60 points (a first-place vote fetched three points, a second place two, and third place one), 23 more than second-placed Jacques Kallis. Adam Gilchrist was ranked third (29 points), while positions four to seven went to Muttiah Muralitharan, Glenn McGrath, Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne.
Ponting scored more runs and centuries in both forms of the game than any other batsman in the decade, and he was the only one to go past the 9000-mark in both Tests and ODIs. In 107 Tests between 2000 and 2009, he scored 9458 runs at 58.38, and 32 of his 38 centuries. Ponting and Kallis, along with Mohammad Yousuf, were the only batsmen to average more than 58 in Tests in the decade.
Ian Chappell, the former Australian captain who was part of the jury, said Ponting's ability to survive difficult periods and also counterattack successfully, made him the best batsman of the decade. New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori said Ponting was the player of the decade "for his ability to dominate bowlers all across the world for such a long time".
Tony Greig, the former England captain, said there hadn't been a modern allrounder who produced as consistently with bat and ball as Kallis did. "Jacques Kallis has been Sobers-like in respect of his all-round contribution for South Africa."
Two of the biggest names of modern cricket, Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar didn't fare too well. Lara got just three points, after featuring as No. 1 in one juror's list. Of the 13 jurors who voted for Tendulkar, only three rated him as No. 1. Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Matthew Hayden, Graeme Smith, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf were among those who did not get any votes.
Apart from Chappell and Vettori, the 38-member jury included Graham Gooch, John Buchanan, Tom Moody, Javagal Srinath, Geoff Boycott, Mushtaq Ahmed, Rashid Latif, David Lloyd, Ranjan Madugalle, Tony Greig and Geoff Lawson.
The Top 10
Ponting got 13 No. 1 votes, eight more than Kallis. Gilchrist, who got seven No.1 places, lost out overall because he got only three No. 2 slots as compared to Kallis' nine. A clear indication of Ponting's domination was that while he didn't figure at all in nine juror lists, Kallis was missing from 20. A pointer also, to Australia's pre-eminence as a team is that four of their players make it to the top seven.
Tony Cozier, commentator and journalist, said many people didn't realise just how impressive Ponting's numbers were. "Mark Twain might have been right when he said there are lies, damn lies and statistics but even he couldn't argue with Ponting's amazing numbers."
Ponting's most productive year of the decade was 2003: in 11 Tests he scored 1503 at 100.20, with three double-centuries. Outside Australia, he played in England most, averaging 43.28 from 15 Tests there. Among countries where he played five or more Tests in the decade, his form was worst in India: 21.85 from eight Tests, with only one century. Kallis, on the other hand, thrived in India and fared poorly in England.
Ponting's best periods in ODIs came in the World Cup years. In the 2003 tournament he scored 415 runs, including an unbeaten 140 in the final. In 2007 he made 539 from 11 matches. Apart from his phenomenal batting exploits, he also led Australia to 192 wins (40 Tests, 145 ODIs and seven Twenty20s), including two World Cups and two Champions Trophies.
Click here for more about the jury and the leading contenders
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