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Ponting was fearless - Viv Richards

Brydon Coverdale

December 6, 2012

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The last Ricky Ponting pull, Australia v South Africa, 3rd Test, Perth, 4th day, December 3, 2012
Viv Richards had always been impressed with how Ricky Ponting never took a backward step © Getty Images

Viv Richards has hailed Ricky Ponting's brashness and "show-no-fear" attitude as among his greatest traits, and Shane Warne has lauded Ponting's habit of making runs when Australia most needed them. Ponting farewelled Test cricket with Australia's loss to South Africa in Perth this week and on Thursday, Warne and Richards, in Melbourne in the lead-up to Friday night's Big Bash League opener, reflected on Ponting's 17-year Test career.

"Certainly he's up there with the very best," Richards said. "What I love about him more than anything else, you look at the way he walks out to the crease. He always has presence. There is a tenaciousness about him. He walks out and believes. He's not going to be intimidated by no one. I would like guys like that. I appreciate seeing guys who come out and have a particular presence."

The same words could have been used to describe Richards, one of Wisden's five cricketers of the century, a man who never wore a helmet and stared down fast bowlers all over the world while nonchalantly chewing his gum. Although the careers of the two men did not overlap - Richards retired from Test cricket four years before Ponting made his debut - Richards saw plenty of Ponting's batting and was impressed by the attitude he displayed from his very first match in 1995.

"A young batter who wants to make it, you cannot feel like you have one foot in and one foot out," Richards said. "You've got to make that crease your house. Ricky always made the crease his house. I've always been in his corner as a player because of that brashness, he's an in-your-face sort of guy. Show no fear. Batsmen sometimes can be intimidated by a guy from how far he runs up, but you just put that at the back of your mind and bat with what you have. Ricky, to me, certainly did that."

Richards is part of the BBL this year as a batting mentor for the Melbourne Stars, who are captained by Warne, a man who played 85 Tests alongside Ponting. Although Warne was not always enamoured with Ponting's captaincy decisions, he said Ponting's ability to score runs when Australia faced potential trouble was one of the reasons the team was so successful.

"It was fun to play with Ricky Ponting," Warne said. "I met him as a 16-year-old at the cricket academy in Adelaide. He was a guy who was pretty tough and an uncompromising sort of player. He will definitely go down with Greg Chappell and Allan Border and Bradman as the greatest batsmen Australia have had, and he'll hold up well on the international stage.

"He loved a scrap, he loved a fight, he was always good when the team really needed him he put his hand up. That's a really good characteristic in any player. It's not about how many runs you get, it's about when you get your runs and when you take your wickets. I think Ricky always got the majority of his runs when Australia really needed him. That was a standout characteristic of his. He was good fun to play with and tough as nails."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by Ranveerr on (December 9, 2012, 23:31 GMT)

Ponting was a selfish cricketer as well who refused to retire from ODIs and had to be thrown out of the ODI team. He knew that he would be dropped from the Test side as well shortly which is why he retired before that happened!! If Ponting had the team goal in mind he would retired many many months ago.....and even when he retired he answered by saying that "he felt too much pressure to score runs and therefore could not contribute" instead of saying that "it was time to make way for some young guns". Viv Richards was a fantastic batsman but then, he never had to face his own pace bowlers. I remember Viv stating some years ago that the best batsman he has seen was Gavaskar purely because of his ability to score a mountain of runs against the WI pacemen!

Posted by Roo on (December 9, 2012, 23:00 GMT)

Bradman managed a Test 50 or century @52.5% every time he went out to bat... In Tests (50's + 100's) - Tendulkar @36.6% - Lara @35.3% - Ponting @35.88% - Kallis @37.3% - Amla @36% - Cook @34% - Sobers @35% - Viv Richards @37.9% - all remarkably similar rates of conversion, some considered among the greatest batsmen ever, yet all are way below Bradmans rate of good scores to innings played... Says it all really...

Bradman also missed out on playing cricket between late 1938 & late 1946 - 8 years when at his peak (30-38 years old) - the most productive years for most batsmen... So there is a reasonable likelihood that his record would have been even better if not for the war...

Posted by Cric on (December 9, 2012, 22:50 GMT)

Lara and Ponting don't even average 50 while playing tests overseas.....while Viv Richards could not average 50 playing at home!! Does any one of these have an ODI double hundred? NO. Tendulkar has the best all round record....in both ODIs and Test cricket....has to be the greatest ever!!

Posted by Roo on (December 9, 2012, 22:39 GMT)

@cricindian.com ... Why don't you just read cricinfo's player profile on "the Don"...

Quote :- "Sir Donald Bradman of Australia was, beyond any argument, the greatest batsman who ever lived and the greatest cricketer of the 20th century"...

Posted by Jojy on (December 9, 2012, 22:39 GMT)

We Aussies just cannot accept the fact that SRT is better than Bradman. While Bradman could not make just 4 runs to make his test average 100 due to immense pressure, SRT also struggled to make 100 international hundreds but in the end he succeeded!! While comparing eras also look at the conditions under which the runs were scored, Bradman scored all his runs in just two countries Eng and Aus where the conditions are sutied for fast bowling whereas SRT has played on raging turners, fast bouncy pitches and seaming pitches and bowlers who were just exceptional like Warne,Murali, Ambrose, Walsh, McGrath,Akram, Waqar, Akhtar and many more!! There were no bowlers of such high quality during Bradman's era and what about the LBW rule during Bradman's era?......still Bradman got out LBW 6 times in his career.Hadlee,Bob Willis and Naser Hussain are not Indians but they have clearly mentioned on air that SRT is the greatest batsman of all time!! Swann also said the same just recently!

Posted by Dummy4 on (December 9, 2012, 20:51 GMT)

Bradman would have struggled on raging turners? Seeing as he dismantled every spinner he faced including Bill O'Reilly who was probably better than Warne. Brandman was twice as good as the next best of his era. How could you possibly rate anyone else above an average of 99.94? He smashed the Indians in Australia. he smashed the South Africans and would have also done so on their own turf if you look at Neil Harvey and the like in 1949 (Bradman was much beter than Harvey). Daylight second.....

Posted by Mick on (December 9, 2012, 2:24 GMT)

Indians fans who say Sachin is better than bradman ( be assured, it's ONLY Indians) are probably the same ones who said: Indian would beat England in England; would beat Australia in Australia; would teach England a lesson in India... So, how did those pearls of wisdom work out?

Posted by Ashley on (December 8, 2012, 22:33 GMT)

The only way you can compare eras is judging players against the performance of their contemporaries and Sir Don average 40 more than anyone else he played with or against. Extraordinary performance and he didn't have the opportunity to feast on Bangladesh bowling either!! Tendulkar is not even the best player in his own era much less comparing him to Sir Don. Lara and Ponting for me are the 2 best players in the last 20 years because they played their cricket with the team goal in mind. Kallis and SRT were/are single minded accumulators who seem intent on furthering their own ambitions. Further Lara and Punter had the added burden of captaincy a job that proved clearly beyond SRT's capabilities. Self absorbed cricketers don't make good captains. However like a previous poster anyone who saw Sir Viv in his prime knows that he leaves the other 4 in the shade when it comes to batsmanship

Posted by Steve on (December 8, 2012, 14:27 GMT)

If he keeps up his form , I think Alastair Cook will be mentioned along the likes of Lara, Kallis, Sachin, Ponting. He has been in sublime form for 3 years. Now with the English test captaincy under his belt, seems to going from strength to strength. Amla and Clarke also have time and opportunities to leave the game as all time greats IMO

Posted by Cric on (December 8, 2012, 11:20 GMT)

landl47, I support the Indian team...Garry Sobers is a good one......i appreciate the fact that you are not commenting on someone's batting because you haven't seen him bat. Just wish that the ignorant Aussies would do the same......more than half the current Australian population have not seen Bradman bat, but all of them say that he was the greatest.....wonder why!! It just sounds hilarious!! I just checked up Garry Sobers' records on cricinfo and he averages less than 25 against New Zealand!!

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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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