ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

India v Australia, 2nd quarter-final, World Cup 2011, Ahmedabad

Ponting creates a template

It is no shame for a veteran to strip things back, and at 36, Ricky Ponting should consider his hook-less, pared-back knock against India as an example of the way he should play in his cricketing twilight

Brydon Coverdale at Motera

March 24, 2011

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Ricky Ponting pumps his fist on getting to a century, India v Australia, 2nd quarter-final, Ahmedabad, World Cup 2011, March 24, 2011
Ricky Ponting's celebration of his first international century in 13 months was a muted one © Getty Images

The day before Australia's quarter-final, Ricky Ponting said he was planning to watch the footage of the 2003 World Cup decider. He wanted to revisit his brilliant 140 in the triumph over India, and draw whatever inspiration he could from the memory. He won't want to see many replays of this loss, but he should keep the video all the same.

He can use his fighting 104 as a template for how to bat in the next phase of his career, given that he and the selectors want him to play on. It is not easy for a batsman of such immense talent to resist his natural urges, and there were hints of Ponting's flair during his first international century for 13 months. But mostly, it was a pared-back innings that relied on the fundamentals.

In his later years, the country singer Johnny Cash released a series of albums with a stripped-back production, all unnecessary instruments and distractions removed. What listeners heard was simply a man and his voice, and the world was reminded of his raw talent. It is no crime for a veteran to go back to basics. In fact, it can be a refreshing change.

In the early stages of Ponting's innings, there was little that was flashy. Singles were knocked around, gaps found and his eyes adjusted to the conditions and the bowling. When he did take a risk, it was calculated, and came against the part-timer Yuvraj Singh, who was clipped over midwicket for a boundary and then swept forward of square leg for four more.

It helped that Ponting hardly had to negotiate a bouncer. Zaheer Khan was the only member of India's attack with genuine pace, and he preferred to bowl full than dig it in short. That meant Ponting didn't have to make the decision on whether to play the hook, the shot that was once a great strength but over the past couple of years has become an Achilles heel.

Against Canada last week, Henry Osinde hurried Ponting in to lobbing a catch from an attempted hook, and with due respect to Osinde, he is no Shaun Tait. During Sachin Tendulkar's lean times, when the cover-drive was proving a weakness, he shelved the stroke and found his runs in other ways. Perhaps Ponting can look at a hook-less innings like this and follow suit.

At Motera, the failures of Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey and Cameron White, and the inability of Brad Haddin to capitalise on another strong start, forced Ponting to be Australia's anchor in the biggest one-day match they have played in years. Far from dragging the ship down, he kept it steady. He turned the strike over with 47 singles, and chose the right balls to go after.

In his prime, it would have been a point of honour for Ponting to go after the best opposition bowlers, show them who's boss. Here, he displayed the utmost respect for Harbhajan Singh, who has dismissed him more times in international cricket than anyone else, and attacked weaker links like Munaf Patel.

And as impressively as Yuvraj has bowled in this tournament, Ponting knew he too was a man who could occasionally be dispatched. His drive over cover for six off Yuvraj was all class. When he eventually did try something new and perilous, an uncharacteristic reverse sweep, he perished.

That came soon after Ponting reached his century, his first international hundred in any format since February 2010. There was no outpouring of emotion. He raised his bat, but didn't remove his helmet. Truth be told, he barely cracked a smile. There was a job still to be done. He believes there still is.

At 36, Ponting is in his cricketing twilight, although he has no desire to take his final bow any time soon. The one thing that might have forced the hand of the selection panel was a continued lack of runs. Australia are at the end of a World Cup cycle and he should move on from one-day cricket. But in whatever formats he plays from now until retirement day, this innings should serve as his template.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by dummy4fb on (March 26, 2011, 0:45 GMT)

Ponting the legend fought it till the last.........Just that this time the general had much weaker army and he was up against a very strong opponent. Still he made it very tough for India.................................. He always won when it mattered. The finest captain ever in the history of game. We ought to salute his figting spirit.

But there was a lesson for everybody in his 100 run inning. Poting has had lot of innings in tests and ODI's during 13 months but could not produce a 100 WHY......Bcz he was listening to coaches.............This time he tried to compete with himself and achieved it - as he said a day before the match"I am watching videos of my own fine innings and picking up what different I did then". .................The fact is that whatever coaches teach is highly impractical and their technique is obsolete.

Posted by cricketlovee on (March 25, 2011, 23:56 GMT)

Continued :::::::: Australia cannot leave their legacy of playing punter by not having him as a captain...he has a secret desire of reaching tendulkar records... In australian cricket we give more importance to team win and dominance rather than personal records..... If selectors really wants to dominate world cricket...they need to bring youth in to the squad and re-build this austrian side..Tait should concentrate on line and lengh rather than pace..he was all over the place...

Posted by cricketlovee on (March 25, 2011, 23:55 GMT)

I am a huge fan of punter but it was a selfish innings by him...... yes the wicket was slow but even with sharne warne and Mcgrath,Australia would not have defended 260 against the full strength of Indian batting line up in India.....Ponting tried to build his innings just like tendulkar and on reaching close to hundred took his chance against part timer yuvraj sing....he seems to be coping tendulkar shots for quite a some time now and how tendulkar build his innings....if he bats like that australia will loose often when he gets 100........ all my friends knew the way he batted Australia will loose..... Even after his hundred i feel he should retire from one day... there is no way he will be allowed to lead australian side in next world cup or in next Ashes...If Cricket Australia wants him to play he must stay as a captain of test side but either bat at number 4 like tendulkar or at a slot of Steve waugh....

Posted by pr3m on (March 25, 2011, 14:13 GMT)

He still believes there is work to be done. But is it any good? Sachin plays like a run machine, but hardly dictates terms anymore. We can handle that, cos we have players who can provide the exclamation mark in an innings. And those players are well settled in the side and their roles. Can Australia say the same thing? Clarke's consistent failures over the same time frame as Ponting's put a lot of pressure on the rest of the team. Is it fair to Australia for Ponting to continue in this vein, playing for pretty much himself, and nothing else?

Posted by CaptainRaghu on (March 25, 2011, 13:46 GMT)

Agree with you -- but then -- thats exactly how Sachin's lived (read played) all his life! Prob gives us an idea of his resilience -- the amazon ability to shoulder all the responsibility and still take the team thru -- which clearly Ricky lacked -- he could never come to terms and was a pale shadow of himself for most part after the iconic players called it a day.

Posted by dummy4fb on (March 25, 2011, 13:14 GMT)

Beautiful article! Mr Ponting should read this. Though Australia lost, he played a splendid innings-one full of commitment, character and determination! I wish him all the best for a few more years of cricket ! Keep going Mr Ponting !!

Posted by Dr.Qwert on (March 25, 2011, 12:57 GMT)

his time has come in ODI cricket, time for some young blood to be exposed to international standard attacks. lets see a team who will entirely be available for the next world cup when we tour bangladesh, meaning no Ponting, Hussey, Haddin, Lee & Tait. Seems harsh but it's the best way to blood youth & in the sceam of things ODI cricket just doesn't compare in importance to test cricket & should be used to develope players. & T20 should just be used as a cash grab lol. ponting still has a large role to play in test cricket though, Clarke doesn't look set to succeed the captaincy yet & he can score large amounts of runs still if he gets his form going moved down to #5 with khawaja at 3 & huss at 6. suddenly the batting looks quite formidable again. it just seems that as he's getting older it's taking longer for him to get his eye in which is easier when the ball is older.

Posted by Shadrachr on (March 25, 2011, 12:12 GMT)

Ponting is theBest. No batsmen have ever achieved what he has. That is no batsmen in the World performed to this level by being the captain of the team

Posted by binkaf on (March 25, 2011, 10:24 GMT)

For sure Ponting is a class apart- one of modern greats. I personally rank him in the same category wid Lara & Tendulkar. I rate Ponting as a mentally tough, technically sound and immensely talented natural stroke playing batsman. It was a good knock by a very very good player though not good enough to win a semi final berth for his team Australia. India was spirited side in front of the home crowd and played magnificently well to set up a clash against Pakistan.

Posted by stormy16 on (March 25, 2011, 9:35 GMT)

What a knock and what a stage to bring it on but unfortunatelyPonting lacked support from the rest of the batsman and couldnt really force the issue to say look for 280+ which would have been a better score. Clark, Hussy and White were a total dissappointment in a vital game. The main issue for Aus they came in with the wrong options on the bowling front to defend such a score.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.

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