Ricky Ponting's 100th Test win September 3, 2011

The proudest century

Success to Ricky Ponting is not about trophies, nor about his place in the pantheon - it is about winning Test matches

Until Colin Cowdrey reached the mark in 1968, no cricketer had played 100 Test matches. It is both a measure of Australia's success and the vast expansion of the game's scheduling ever since that Ricky Ponting now stands above all others, the first man to have played in 100 Test victories.

Of all Ponting's achievements, this will sit near the top as a source of satisfaction whenever he ends his career. Personal statistics and their associated glory have never held his attention, but for 16 years, Test match wins have been his fundamental goal. For him to know he has participated in 100 of them will cause the familiar grin to emerge on Ponting's face, the grin that has remained boyish through all the series, tours and fluctuations of his time on the big stage.

Ponting was a boy wonder when he enjoyed his first Test win, on his debut in December 1995. Also against Sri Lanka, it took place on a Perth pitch as far removed from the dustbowl of Galle as it is possible to be. Sri Lanka were bowled out for 251 on the first day, then Muttiah Muralitharan returned figures of 2 for 224 as Mark Taylor's Australia ran up 617 for 5 declared. A little more than a week short of his 21st birthday, Ponting stroked his way to 96 before the umpire, Khizer Hayat, gave him out lbw to a ball that would have passed wide and high of the stumps. Ponting's memory is famously sharp: he would have Hayat's cruelly raised finger to help motivate him for the next decade and a half. When Australia returned to the field that day, Shane Warne placed a consoling hand on Ponting's shoulder.

Ponting claimed his first three Test catches as the visitors were rounded up and an innings victory completed. Australia went on to sweep the series 3-0 with methodical displays in Melbourne and Adelaide. Beyond a pair of early spells out of the side as his game and his sense of discipline were developed, that result was representative of much that followed. Under the leadership of Taylor, Steve Waugh and Ponting himself, the wins were piled high. On no fewer than 20 occasions, Ponting took part in a series in which there were no other results but Australian victories. By comparison, Allan Border played in one.

Wins are seldom taken for granted, and there was always the presence of history to remind Ponting of their value. Over his 156 Tests, Border took part in 50 wins. But this avalanche of success brought with it a keen sense that victory was the right and proper result for Ponting and his team. Sometimes that expectation and confidence resulted in victories from nowhere, like the sweep in Sri Lanka in 2004, Ponting's first series as captain, when three Tests were won from unlikely positions. But it could also lead to anger and tension when the desired outcome seemed to be slipping away, or when the urge to force a result outstripped all other concerns. Australia wins were celebrated wildly, and the desire to reach that point was ravenous. The 2008 Sydney Test defeat of India stands as Ponting's most acrimonious, and the one that marked the unofficial end of Australia's domination.

Up to that point, Ponting had played in 113 Tests and claimed victory in 81 of them. Since then he has played in 40 and won only 19. As captain of a team who began to struggle, his priorities were at times blurred. No one present will forget the drama in Nagpur later in 2008, when most concluded that Ponting had placed the prevention of a heavy sanction for a tardy over rate ahead of a fleeting chance at a series-levelling win. More recently, the amount of time and effort he had to spend educating, guiding and worrying over a young team seemed to sap his mental reserves for his own batting, always Ponting's most reliable contributor to victory.

Yet, over this latter period, he has derived arguably greater pleasure from the matches and series he has won, for they have been achieved with lesser resources. Those resources include his own batting, which has slipped in terms of effectiveness if not method, as an average of 39.96 since January 2008 can indicate. The losses have eroded Ponting's standing - he admits some will remember him more for three Ashes series defeats than the raft of other victories - but have also enhanced his appreciation of the wins.

This was never more evident than after a young team had completed a series victory in South Africa in early 2009, having lost the reciprocal Tests in Australia that preceded it. Ponting's reaction to that result was as boisterous as any in his career, and reached into the heart of why he has sought Test match wins more uncompromisingly and more prolifically than any other player in history.

"I'm extremely proud of the players," he said at the time. "This is as happy as I've been in my whole career as an Australian player. This is a great achievement from this team, and I'm sure there will be a lot of people back home in Australia really proud of what the team has done.

"We play to win games of cricket for Australia and to do the best that we can for each other as a group of players. Whatever happens as a result of that, happens. If silverware comes your way then great, but that's not the reason that we play the game."

Success to Ponting is not about trophies, nor about his place in the pantheon. It is about winning Test matches, and this singularity of purpose has taken him to 100 such results. He has not made a prouder century.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Randolph on September 6, 2011, 23:38 GMT

    Well done Ricky you are a true champion. Unlike Tendulkar you do not chase personal records and you can actually win a game off yuor own bat! Anyone who denies punters sparkling record is kidding themselves.

  • Premanand on September 6, 2011, 10:44 GMT

    What a wonderful acievement. Hats off to Ricky for being part of 100 Test Wins. This really shows how dominant AUSSIES were during punter's playing days. This is a celebration time and Congrats to Punter and all the distinguished greats in the list (Warne, Mcgrath, Waghs, Gilly, Haydos, Langer). More importantly this achievement is a fair indication of How Strong the Great AUSSIES were and punter must be fortunate enough to be part of this dream team / legacy. Evern SRT or for that matter any cricketer will trade anything for this 100 Test Wins. This is truly un-believable.

    After a careful look at the stats in the article, and also looking at Punter Vs SRT comparison, i found that Punters last 40 Tests has yielded only 19 wins (47.5% wins) and if he had to play alongside current lot of AUS players through out his career, he would have achieved about 73 Test Wins only. This clearly shows that this record is a Team Record and can't be compared with individual records.

  • Dummy4 on September 6, 2011, 7:57 GMT

    you are the best in whole world.because you record is not indivisible,you make history.

  • Kuldeep on September 6, 2011, 3:11 GMT

    Wonderful achievement by a gutsy cricketer. Many congrats Punter, keep it going for a few years more! The game has been blessed with players like Ricky Ponting.

  • Dummy4 on September 5, 2011, 15:38 GMT

    Punter have alz showen his strength of achieving high goal to his nation and his team. he had performed when his team needs him at most. E.g final of 2003 World Cup final, where he played indian all around the ground. Eye Evidence, Sachin was there too. Playing as a captain differs a lot rather than playing for own position. Once before dhoni, there was lot of talks on, to whom captainship should be given too and at the end sachin denied clearly and replied, ' why senior players are alz out in pressure? Accepting the team of Waugh should be big heart becoz making a gud team in a great job but maintaining the execellence of the team is the greatest and the toughest job. And this is wht makes punter a great player than sachin. and hats off to Master Aussie Captain.

  • Dummy4 on September 5, 2011, 13:42 GMT

    Ponting's 100 test wins are greater than Sachin's would be 100 test centuries and same would have been true for Langer, Hayden, Warne, Mcgrath, Lee, Gillespie and other Australian greats had they played as long as Ponting played for Australia. Does that mean all are better players than Sachin irrespective of batting and bowling? the answer is no, all have simply contributed towards successive Australian victories and yes Ponting is a major part of it..so kudos to him...Sachin on the other hand has done what he could do and has mostly succeeded in playing his own part but alas 4/11 Indians contribute to an Indian Victory compared to 8/11 for an Australian victory. Also for Pakistan fans who choose to heigten Ponting's achievement over Sachin's achievement, I know you guys are right in doing so but in embracing Ponting you guys are actually just showing your dislike for an Indian and nothing more as you dont have one from your country.

  • Simon on September 5, 2011, 12:14 GMT

    Well done Ricky. I would have dropped you a dozen tests ago, but I can recognise what a marvelous servant you have been since '95. A fantastic batsman, a brilliant fielder, one of the best in the last decade.

  • Rishi on September 5, 2011, 11:42 GMT

    This nice and to the point article is written to celebrate and recognize a CRICKET GREAT, and which Ponting really is. In the whole article there is no mention of any team or any other player, or any comparison whatsoever and that is the way it should be. It seems very silly on part of other team supporters to compare Ponting with others in the game. It seems to me like someone wounds have been sprinkled with salt.Congratulations to Ponting. Ponting you brought unprecedented heights to the game, CRICKET.

  • Dave on September 5, 2011, 10:28 GMT

    @TheOnlyEmperor, re. `Not impressed! In how many of the 100 did he get the Man of the Match? :P` For the record, Ponting has won 16 MoM awards in 153 tests, playing in statistically the most successful team of all time. (Tendulkar has won 14 in 181, in a far weaker side.). Ever heard of the word magnanimous by any chance?

  • Dummy4 on September 5, 2011, 10:22 GMT

    Ashis Tiwary: Very bad denial to Ponting, I can't believe one can be as bias & prejudiced as U r being here, but yes it's your right for u r an independent citizen of a nation independent! But, FYI, during those 100 wins Ponting was not clapping sitting on a balcony watching his talented teammates, instead he's in field giving his all as a batsman, fielder & captain- as a player. So if Sachin is Sachin why r u saying Ponting is not Ponting, huh? Iz it a joke mate? Wake up & accept it's very rare that any team wins solely by an individual brilliance; for a team to win it needs a teamwork & team players like Ricky Ponting not the players who mostly play 2 improve their records, mind it by records I mean Individual record.@ TheOnlyEmperor: Can't tell u how many times he was MOM in those 100 tests but yes he's scored over 8000 runs close to the average of 60 & overall careerwise has scored 28 hundreds in a winning cause! I think it should be more than enough for u to compare & judge Ricky.

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