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Peter English at Edgbaston
July 31, 2009
Ricky Ponting climbed to the summit of Australia's run list but refused to enjoy the view until after the third Test. Ponting become the country's most prolific batsman when he passed Allan Border's mark of 11,174 during the second morning at Edgbaston and allowed himself a couple of bat raises to celebrate and a hug from Michael Clarke - but nothing more.
"Pup was trying to get some emotion out of me in the middle," Ponting said. "He came down and said: 'Well done, I'm really proud of you.' I said: 'Mate, we've got a job to do.' I waved my bat around a little bit more than I normally do, but it was just straight back into it to get through a tough morning."
Australia started by losing two wickets to the opening two balls, but Ponting wasn't too bothered by the setbacks and quickly knocked off the eight runs he needed to leapfrog Border. Playing his 134th match, Ponting achieved the milestone in the fourth over of the day after taking only five balls to reach the target, which came with a flicked three through midwicket off Andrew Flintoff.
"When I got past the record it was done and dusted really quickly," he said. "We had to move and get a partnership going, but unfortunately I got out at a bad time."
He was caught behind trying to hook Onions on 38, standing his ground until Aleem Dar gave him out, and walked off with a career haul of 11,188. "There's a bitter-sweet taste after getting past the record but not getting a big score," he said.
Border's 16-year, 156-Test career ended in South Africa in 1994 and he retired as the game's most prolific batsman, an accolade he held until Brian Lara stepped up in Adelaide in 2005-06. "Never did I ever think I'd be breaking Allan Border's record because so many things have to fall in line for that, and one of those is playing as many games as I have," Ponting said. "Right at the moment it's all a bit of a blur."
The legacy of Border's uncompromising play lives on through the current team, which is now suffering like some of Border's teams. "He was known as a really tough competitor and always playing the captain's innings when required," Ponting said. "He typified what it was to be an Australian cricketer back then.
"He was hard-nosed and as tough as anyone who played the game. When the cricket was at its toughest, he stood up to be counted. That was a trademark of the Australian teams - and still is."
Border said Ponting was a worthy holder of the mantle. "Clearly, I am a great admirer, having been involved in Ricky's selection in many great Australian sides, and having enjoyed watching him closely on more occasions than I can remember as a cricket media commentator as well," Border said.
Ponting's batting is crucial to his side's Ashes chances and he knows he must fire over the remaining three Tests to avoid becoming the first Australian captain in more than 100 years to lose twice in England. He started well with 150 in Cardiff but fell for 2 and 38 as Australia were defeated in the second Test at Lord's.
Lara retired with 11,953 runs in 131 Tests and has since been relegated to second by Sachin Tendulkar, who has 12,773 in 159 matches. Australia's other post-war record holders were Don Bradman (6996) and Greg Chappell (7110).
It appeared Ponting would be able to overtake Tendulkar when the Indian's career seemed to be winding down a couple of years ago, but he has continued to score heavily and will probably take the mark out of Ponting's reach. Ponting is 34 but when asked earlier in the series if he would be in England for the 2013 tour he joked he would need a wheelchair.
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