Records mean little to Ponting
Even if Ricky Ponting didn't lug around so many records they wouldn't mean much to him. Wins and runs in an innings are what he counts, not career tallies or averages or his place on the latest ICC rankings. Following a couple of Test captains who spoke often about the game's history, Ponting lives more in the now. Now, he is Australia's most prolific batsman, having passed Allan Border's tally of 11,174 early on the second day at Edgbaston.
Border's record was one of sweaty accumulation, a haul achieved over 16 years, most of which was spent dragging his side out of desperate situations. Ponting's mark has been one of style, often as a supporting batsman to some of the game's greats, and lately as a man who has been asked to set the tone for a team that no longer glistens at every spot in the order.
This is his 134th Test, 22 fewer than Border managed, and he was unable to stroke them far ahead on the second morning. On 38 he tried to hook Graham Onions and was caught behind, ruining his hopes of lifting Australia after their double loss from the opening two deliveries. Walking off with 11,188 runs, he might have considered how life has changed over the past two-and-a-half years.
In 23 matches since the 2006-07 Ashes, a whitewash which farewelled Warne, McGrath, Langer and Martyn, Ponting has 1820 runs at 44.39, almost 12 runs down on his career mark. His days became even harder with the retirements of Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden, leaving him as the last relic of a bygone era when the Australians had basically won before they took the field. He says he is enjoying moulding a new side, a unit which is undeniably his. Everything, including the mix of results, is unfamiliar.
Unless this Ashes series turns particularly bad and Ponting can't cope with joining Billy Murdoch, the 1800s leader, in losing two series in England, expect him to stand down after the 2011 World Cup. He will be 36 when it is held in the subcontinent and he has not lost a match in the global tournament as captain, a role he accepted in the lead-up to the 2003 success.
While he is not as tactically astute as his predecessors, there is never any question over the incredible standard of his batting. Australia have been fortunate to have him since he eased 96 on debut and was stopped only by a horrible lbw decision. The fiery attitude which shocked those in the dressing room on his return that day has driven his quest to No. 3 on the Test run-scoring table.
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo