November 30, 2011

Punter's still burning bright

Ricky Ponting is intensely competitive but also unlikely to stay on if he thinks he can no longer contribute to the team cause
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Some girls they want a handsome Dan or some good-lookin' Joe
On their arms some girls like a sweet-talkin' Romeo
Well round here baby I learned you get what you can get
So if you're rough enough for love, honey, I'm tougher than the rest

- "Tougher Than The Rest", Bruce Springsteen

Sympathy for Ricky Ponting has never come easy. How could it? No international cricketer has ever finished on the winning side more frequently. None has led his country on more occasions or to more victories. No Australian has scored more runs for his country. No Australian cricketer, not even Dennis Lillee or Shane Warne, has got up more noses. Somebody from the Australian Institute of Public Affairs once claimed that Ponting's critics were members of the "self-loathing left", which rather understates the case.

Just seven years ago we were bidding adieu to Steve Waugh and stating with absolute conviction that the game would never know a more determined or resilient competitor; since he succeeded him as Australia's conductor, Punter has occasionally made Waugh look softer than jelly.

Still, never say never. Right now, I'm not sure I'd want to be in his shoes. How, given how much he professes to be enjoying himself, Ponting must envy Kurtis Patterson, the New South Wales left-hander* who on Monday struck the 16th boundary of an audacious innings to become, at 18 years and 206 days, the new youngest centurion in Sheffield Shield annals. In the over after tea, having been clattered on the helmet on 84, Patterson was greeted with a squall of short-pitchers and hammered 20 runs. "It was understandable they would come out and bowl short at me in that initial period after I got hit," he admitted, "so I backed myself." Unlike Ponting, he is just starting out. Unlike Ponting, he has nothing to lose bar a burgeoning reputation. Fear, plainly, is still a stranger.

Not that Ponting has ever been found lacking in that quarter. Justin Langer, one of the shrewder judges of cricketing potential, detected the inner drive on their first Ashes tour together in 1997: "I don't think Punter will ever go to his grave, or come to the end of his career, wondering if he could have done more with his ability or talent."

That the latest of his Test wins should coincide with his most assertively productive innings in 13 months was the measure of the batsman. That that 62 in Johannesburg should underpin such a remarkable comeback from the depths of Newlands, at a moment when failure ranked bottom of the list of options for self and team, was the measure of the man.

THE COMING WEEKS, nonetheless, will challenge him as never before. For professional sportsfolk, being able to nominate the date and venue of one's final bow is a luxury denied to all but the luckiest. For every Waugh and Seymour Nurse there are scores of Graeme Pollocks and Steve Harmisons, never mind the hordes of one-cap wonders and one-tour blunders. To date, Ponting, publicly at least, has acted as if such considerations are a million miles from mind. Which suggests, encouragingly for him, that he subscribes to WG's fabled theory: "There is no crisis in cricket - there is only the next ball."

Langer defined mental toughness as "performing consistently in all conditions for an extended period of time". Waugh himself went further, characterising it as "believing you are better than the opposition, being brutally honest with yourself and always looking to improve your game". The question now is whether Ponting can tick all those boxes.

No longer is he Public Enemy No.1. As he walked through the doors of that last-chance saloon in Jo'burg and moseyed to the bar, the boos boomed. When he walked back, he was cheered. And not just by any crowd, but a Wanderers crowd, a stiff opponent no matter how many come through the gate

The appetite, it would appear, remains, if not unslakeable, then certainly hearty, not to say ample. He could have retired after the last Ashes series, but that would have meant going out on a low. South Africa and India loomed: two unmissable opportunities for redemption. Unmissable, that is, for someone with the uncommon self-belief of the born winner.

All the indications, moreover, are that he still believes he is worth his place. "Ricky Ponting will not play Test cricket if he doesn't think that he deserves his spot in the side," Stuart MacGill assured the Sydney Morning Herald the other day. "That means if everyone else in the top six is consistently making runs and there is a clear successor in the wings making piles of runs in Shield cricket then he will know the time has come. That is not the situation he finds himself in." As events at the Wanderers confirmed, however belatedly.

That he is seeking improvement cannot be doubted. He lasted just 40 balls in his first three innings of the series in South Africa, collecting eight runs and three leg-befores; whatever the source, however multifaceted the causes, the leap from there to that 62 was considerable.

Ian Chappell once observed that Ponting tends to bat as he speaks - the shots flow too fast, too soon, too unquestioningly. As if to ram Chappell Sr's critique back down his throat, he took his time from the off, stretching extensively before facing his first ball. Not until his tenth did he get off the mark, and with a calm, contented push at that. Nor did he fall over as he played across his pads. Yet still, amid the self-restraint, the trademark strokes sparkled: a straight-driven four off Dale Steyn essayed with timing and placement of thrilling exactitude, a ferociously dismissive pull off Morne Morkel that bellowed defiance. The tone had been set by Vernon Philander's two early strikes; Ponting recalibrated it. He may have gone too soon on the final morning but by then hope had displaced despair: the hardest yards had been done.

It was as if, having long since asserted his statistical superiority over all Australian batsmen bar Bradman, Ponting needed to walk to the brink of the precipice to find a fresh goal. In fact, he may have found a couple. It is almost irrelevant whether it is an implicit goal (wresting Waugh's crown as Australia's most-capped Test player), an explicit one (helping his country recover its cricketing poise, as he has often stated) or, more likely, a combination of both. It took him two years to reach that point of no return; when he finally peered over the edge, he evidently decided he'd better get back to where he once belonged. It was nothing more, and nothing less, than an act of will.

As Gideon Haigh has pointed out, Ponting is likelier to unleash his ire on an opponent who fakes aggression than one who exudes it at all times. Which makes it extremely hard to believe he could countenance inconsistency in himself. As the final curtain hovers, performers often feel the urge to change; increasingly conscious of how posterity would treat him, Waugh himself was certainly far more likeable as the end neared. By vacating the captain's throne Ponting gave himself the best chance he could to change, to however minuscule a degree. Now he is no longer captain, and hence no longer feels obliged to do the lion's share of the growling, he has apparently traded stripes for spots. Always the exemplar, seldom the enabler, he can only inspire by deed - which is exactly what his young comrades need.

No longer, furthermore, is he Public Enemy No. 1. As he walked through the doors of that last-chance saloon in Jo'burg and moseyed to the bar, the boos boomed. When he walked back, he was cheered. And not just by any crowd, but a Wanderers crowd, a stiff opponent no matter how many come through the gate. Never before, outwardly, has he seemed to care about such incidental trifles. Here, though, was a major transition: a far cry from England 2009; another mountain conquered, however unconsciously sought. It is far from a stretch to imagine him having derived a modicum of pleasure from being the good guy rather than the bad or ugly one. He could get used to it.

So now, you might imagine, would be the time to go. On a high. Without risking the possibility that Ishant Sharma could humiliate him again, let alone some Bracewell or other. On the other hand, given that the opportunity for Ashes redemption lies 20 Tests and more than 18 months distant, what better way to call it a day than by ending Australia's famine against India, now eight winless Tests and counting? As the lone survivor of the Hayden-Langer-Ponting "engine room", and thus the sole remaining link to that most formidable pool of baggy-green cappers, he may feel he owes the Southern Cross that much.

The reality, of course, is that while anyone possessed of such an intensely competitive spirit was always liable to offend those to whom winning matters less (i.e. pretty much everyone), he owes Australia, cricket and himself precisely nothing - other than a parting smile.

Rougher than the rest? Maybe. Tougher than the rest? You bet.

* The article was amended at 07.05GMT on November 30 to note that Kurtis Patterson did not score his century against Tasmania

Rob Steen is a sportswriter and senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • SamRoy on December 3, 2011, 15:53 GMT

    @Pras_Punter Nobody in international cricket is more selfless than MS Dhoni. Doesn't even care if he gets a 100 or 99. Of course Dhoni is not a great cricketer. Not even a very good cricketer. But a decent cricketer who is very mature. The main reason India stopped choking in ODIs and provided decent lower order support in tests.

  • on December 3, 2011, 9:52 GMT

    Its the muscular characters of these real men such as Punter,Sachin ,Dravid,kallis,sanga... that have kept the game still alive........ No matter however the situation it may be they keep on delivering what they have to... "OLD HABITS NEVER DIE"

  • on December 3, 2011, 7:19 GMT

    Ponting is a true champion,he is just having a prolonged lean patch,it is just the question of one knock,then he will be back with a bang. I am an Indian,I feel Punter is far more selfless player than Sachin and a more dominant batsman in test matches who can pretty much dictate terms one he is set. Sachin threw away his wicket in the second test match against the Windies,looking for his 100th 100,I am sure Ponting would rather die than do that. He is a great man,he will know when he is becoming a burden.

  • jay57870 on December 2, 2011, 11:32 GMT

    Rob - "Punter's still burning bright"? Not really! The title doesn't match the narrative. Only "The Tyger" burns bright. Ponting is no tiger at all. William Blake's classic poem, with its archaic cadence of words & rhythm, captures the tiger's essence - its exotic beauty, primal ferocity & sublime nobility - like the Royal Bengal Tiger. Far from it, Steen's choice of The Boss's "rougher" & "tougher" lyrics depicts the Punter akin to a fellow icon from his own natural habitat: The Tasmanian Devil. Yes, Rob - its appetite surely remains "unslakeable" & "hearty" & "ample" - though its shrieking bark is seemingly worse than its voracious bite. "Tougher than the rest" indeed! As Tasmania's iconic symbol, the devil is protected - a survivor. A bit of poetic license here: OK, Rob - Give the endangered devil his due!

  • PrasPunter on December 2, 2011, 10:38 GMT

    Punter is the most-selfless cricketer I have ever seen. It should be fair to say that he lost himself for the team's cause . Lot of observers have pointed out how he would stand's at umpire's position and watch the batsmen at nets to give his feedback. Spent lot of time working with others to the extent that he missed his valuable practice time. For him, individual landmarks are hardly a matter of concern. One who never has chased "silly" records. Team stands first for him. Quite fitting that he has 100 test-wins , a more valuable 100 than....

    Am proud to be a fan of the Punter ! Hail the Punter ||

  • hashabjp on December 2, 2011, 8:21 GMT

    If your talking about comparing ponting to tendulkar and dravid ... then its ridiculous. You ever heard of the legend JACQUES HENRY KALLIS well he is the greatest batsman playing at the moment.

  • on December 2, 2011, 2:20 GMT

    Ponting is still great than Tendulkar in the field.i think he is the wonderful fielder,leader $ more important great batsman.

  • cricket_vijay on December 1, 2011, 23:13 GMT

    This is the best article I have ever read in cricinfo. Please keep Ricky for few more years and India gets as many wins. Geez, until I read this article, I didn't know he was still in the playing 11. He can move from 1st down to 2nd to 3rd and maybe, a tail-ender. Aussie board should give up on Ricky catching up with Sachin or Dravid..

  • on December 1, 2011, 20:43 GMT

    ok. for those super stats here, Ponting averages 58 in Test Wins whereas Sachin averages 66 in Test wins throughout the career. Still some people say Ponting is a better match winner...its because of his greater team mates, Ponting was part of very successful Aus team. Not the other way around.

  • bigdhonifan on December 1, 2011, 20:11 GMT

    he only played well from 2002 to 2006. other than that failure! Sachin and Dravid is much better!!!

  • SamRoy on December 3, 2011, 15:53 GMT

    @Pras_Punter Nobody in international cricket is more selfless than MS Dhoni. Doesn't even care if he gets a 100 or 99. Of course Dhoni is not a great cricketer. Not even a very good cricketer. But a decent cricketer who is very mature. The main reason India stopped choking in ODIs and provided decent lower order support in tests.

  • on December 3, 2011, 9:52 GMT

    Its the muscular characters of these real men such as Punter,Sachin ,Dravid,kallis,sanga... that have kept the game still alive........ No matter however the situation it may be they keep on delivering what they have to... "OLD HABITS NEVER DIE"

  • on December 3, 2011, 7:19 GMT

    Ponting is a true champion,he is just having a prolonged lean patch,it is just the question of one knock,then he will be back with a bang. I am an Indian,I feel Punter is far more selfless player than Sachin and a more dominant batsman in test matches who can pretty much dictate terms one he is set. Sachin threw away his wicket in the second test match against the Windies,looking for his 100th 100,I am sure Ponting would rather die than do that. He is a great man,he will know when he is becoming a burden.

  • jay57870 on December 2, 2011, 11:32 GMT

    Rob - "Punter's still burning bright"? Not really! The title doesn't match the narrative. Only "The Tyger" burns bright. Ponting is no tiger at all. William Blake's classic poem, with its archaic cadence of words & rhythm, captures the tiger's essence - its exotic beauty, primal ferocity & sublime nobility - like the Royal Bengal Tiger. Far from it, Steen's choice of The Boss's "rougher" & "tougher" lyrics depicts the Punter akin to a fellow icon from his own natural habitat: The Tasmanian Devil. Yes, Rob - its appetite surely remains "unslakeable" & "hearty" & "ample" - though its shrieking bark is seemingly worse than its voracious bite. "Tougher than the rest" indeed! As Tasmania's iconic symbol, the devil is protected - a survivor. A bit of poetic license here: OK, Rob - Give the endangered devil his due!

  • PrasPunter on December 2, 2011, 10:38 GMT

    Punter is the most-selfless cricketer I have ever seen. It should be fair to say that he lost himself for the team's cause . Lot of observers have pointed out how he would stand's at umpire's position and watch the batsmen at nets to give his feedback. Spent lot of time working with others to the extent that he missed his valuable practice time. For him, individual landmarks are hardly a matter of concern. One who never has chased "silly" records. Team stands first for him. Quite fitting that he has 100 test-wins , a more valuable 100 than....

    Am proud to be a fan of the Punter ! Hail the Punter ||

  • hashabjp on December 2, 2011, 8:21 GMT

    If your talking about comparing ponting to tendulkar and dravid ... then its ridiculous. You ever heard of the legend JACQUES HENRY KALLIS well he is the greatest batsman playing at the moment.

  • on December 2, 2011, 2:20 GMT

    Ponting is still great than Tendulkar in the field.i think he is the wonderful fielder,leader $ more important great batsman.

  • cricket_vijay on December 1, 2011, 23:13 GMT

    This is the best article I have ever read in cricinfo. Please keep Ricky for few more years and India gets as many wins. Geez, until I read this article, I didn't know he was still in the playing 11. He can move from 1st down to 2nd to 3rd and maybe, a tail-ender. Aussie board should give up on Ricky catching up with Sachin or Dravid..

  • on December 1, 2011, 20:43 GMT

    ok. for those super stats here, Ponting averages 58 in Test Wins whereas Sachin averages 66 in Test wins throughout the career. Still some people say Ponting is a better match winner...its because of his greater team mates, Ponting was part of very successful Aus team. Not the other way around.

  • bigdhonifan on December 1, 2011, 20:11 GMT

    he only played well from 2002 to 2006. other than that failure! Sachin and Dravid is much better!!!

  • AdityaMookerjee on December 1, 2011, 18:44 GMT

    Ricky Ponting is by far, Australia's greatest current Cricket star, poetry unintended. Seriously, who else is a star, in the current Australian team?

  • tanstina on December 1, 2011, 18:15 GMT

    All Ponting detractors will be proven wrong very soon. Punter is a fighter and will not go down without having one. Give the great batsman a break guys (Don't you all go through certain rough periods at your respective workplaces and also try to overcome it in due course?) I am confident, Ponting looks in great shape for a 35+guy (better than most others in his age group) and he is bang on while saying: "someone has to pay dearly at some point." Kiwis & Blue Men: watch out!

  • natmastak_so-called on December 1, 2011, 16:48 GMT

    he must be feeling lucky that turbanator is not going to Australia.

  • natmastak_so-called on December 1, 2011, 16:43 GMT

    most hyped player of any generation. who only thrived when his teammates were extraordinary.

  • on December 1, 2011, 8:02 GMT

    why not Ian CHappel say now that ponting is trying to eke out a career out of cricket and he should hang his boots............this is exactly the same words when Sachin was not making big innings in 2006-07..........This reflects his biased behavior and disqualification as a TV commentrator.I feel he should hang his pen and mike........and Ponting his boots for non-performance for about 3 years on the trot.

  • atthipatti on December 1, 2011, 6:39 GMT

    Ponting - A man whos heroics went on exile indefinitely as soon as Gilli, Haydos, Warney, Piggy and Co. retired.

  • on December 1, 2011, 6:19 GMT

    LOVE or HATE but nobody ignores punter... so got 100 comments and still counting...

  • IndianaJones79 on December 1, 2011, 4:54 GMT

    One half century in 2 years(And he did not finish job). Aussie would have lost if Haddin/Johanson did not play like they did. Now here comes bias to Pointing from this journalist. He was great for 5 years. Don't compare this guy with Lara and Sachin(They did not have obvious weakness like this guy has against quality spin/swing in his prime--Forget about right now as he is out of sort against all bowling). About winning matches, i dont remember single game when he chased target when his team was in trouble and single handadly won game, his wins was his team's win). All aussie supporter are pouring accolades only for 63 runs in 2 years?????shame..shame...That's why aussie is no 5

  • rahulcricket007 on December 1, 2011, 4:00 GMT

    @KHILADISHER . PLEASE DON'T SAY THAT . INDIAN TEAM IS UNPREDICTABLE . ON A TOUR THEY CAN PERFORM VERY GOOD ON THE OTHER THEY CAN BE EASILY THRASHED LIKE THE RECENT ENG TOUR . LET WAIT FOR START THE SERIES AND FINSHING THE FIRST 2 TESTS THEN WE WILL JOIN PREDICTIONS .

  • Raju_Iyer on December 1, 2011, 3:07 GMT

    So now we know it was his toughness which saw him allowing India to recover at Nagpur (Test 1892, Nov 2008) from a not so great position at tea with 6 wickets down. Bringing on Michael Hussey to bowl was the dumbest thing to do! As many others have pointed out, no denying his great qualities of batsmanship (anyone with an average of over 50 after playing more than 150 tests cannot but be great) but to lavish praises on his tactical brilliance or toughness is stretching the truth. As for being "hated", well if you behave boorishly most of the time - still can't forget how he elbowed out Sharad Pawar from the presentation podium once and did not bother to apologize ; what else can you expect? If he is still in the team for the series against India, he can be happy Harbhajan has not been selected, but there is still a certain Ishant Sharma.....

  • samincolumbia on December 1, 2011, 1:40 GMT

    The only reason the selectors have not shown him the door is that they badly want him to overtake Sachin's records. His average in the last 2 years is pretty close to his career average on the 'flat' pitches of India!!

  • on November 30, 2011, 22:48 GMT

    To all the Indian (specifically SRT fans): please keep ONE thread free of comparisons and references to him. Why should Ricky , an entirely different individual from Sachin have to conform to our views and norms of "humble", "playing under pressure", "statistics" etc. Reason both SRT and RTP are greats, is precisely 'cuz they've played for the love of the game, not the stats. Their fitness, fighting spirit and skill has been exemplary. It's not Ricky's fault, that he came into a very good, and eventually a great team. Just like Walsh, Sachin or Kallis derive their steel from quiet resilience, players like Ponting, McGrath or Lara derived their inner fight from aggression. Purely as a player, that doesn't make them less admirable. While Waugh and Taylor had the luxury to retire knowing the team will do fine without them - for Ponting, that wasn't the case until Marsh and Khawaja arrived. Yes, he overstayed, but he's owned up too. The game will be poorer when he leaves, that's a fact!

  • Nerk on November 30, 2011, 22:31 GMT

    There is one question the selectors have to ask: Is Ponting currently amongst the best six batsmen in Australia. He is better than Usman Kwahja, is he better than Shaun Marsh. Does he have the wood over David Warner? I believe, that with a test average of 27 over the last two years, he is not. Whilst I admit Ponting is a legend and is one of Australia's greatest ever batsmen, while he is in the team the likes of Marsh and Usman will be held back in the shadows, unable to assert themselves because they know that no matter what they do, they will forever be dropped in favour of reputation, not form.

  • CricFan78 on November 30, 2011, 22:19 GMT

    Isnt it amazing that Ponting hasnt had a decent run ever since Warne and Mcgrath retired and his graphite bat was banned.

  • chaitu14 on November 30, 2011, 21:52 GMT

    id agree ponting is one of the finest. but i cant compare him with other great players like sachin, lara or sangakkara.. simply because the team with which they played.they were the only players who used to perform and win matches and had expectations everytime they come onto field with bat..on the other hand punter had no pressure at all..he won matches with such a team with which any captain in the world could do.and when he had that pressure,when he lost those big players he didnt succeed..both as a batsman and as a captain..cause he couldnt handle the pressure but overall..when hes playing freely..its a treat to watch..i wish hel play his own game leaving everything behind for the rest of his career

  • khiladisher on November 30, 2011, 21:30 GMT

    AUSTRALIA WOULD BE HARD PRESSED TO BEAT INDIA-THIS IS A GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY FOR INDIA TO WIN ITS FIRST TEST SERIES IN AUSSIE LAND.LAST TWO CRICKET SERIES PLAYED THERE INDIA WERE THE FAR BETTER TEAM-ONLY TO BE DENIED BY STEVE WAUGH AT SYDNEY 2003 AND BY STEVE BUCKNORS ATROCIOUS UMPIRING ONCE AGAIN AT SYDNEY IN 2008. INDIA HAD ITS JUST REVENGE AT PERTH BY THRASHING AUSTRALIA-ITS NO COINCIDENCE THAT SINCE THE DISPUTED SYDNEY WIN IN 2008-AUSTRALIA HAS NOT WON A SINGLE TEST MATCH AGAINST THE INDIANS IN 8 ATTEMPTS.

  • Vilander on November 30, 2011, 21:03 GMT

    i think amoung his contemporaries Ponting comes behind, Lara,SRT,Kallis and Dravid in that order.

  • HLANGL on November 30, 2011, 20:26 GMT

    I still hope that Ponting would come out of this lean patch & survive for another couple of years at least. The game of Cricket would be so poor to see him leaving rightnow. To me, he's one of the three most complete batsmen the world has seen in recent times along with T'kar & Lara. While Lara being the most effortless of the three with a somewhat unorthodox batting technique, Ponting & Tendulkar were more orthodox conventionally attacking players. Simply loved seeing Ponting at his peek. Seeing him coming to the middle always takes me back to the memorylane where he simply slaughtered India in the final of the WC2003. He has always been one of my faviourites which had the likes of Viv Richards, Martin Crowe, Lara, Gilchrist, Saeed Anwar, Jayasuriya, Michael Slater, Tendulkar, Aravinda De Silva, Richie Richardson, Yousuf Youhana, etc. for different reasons. Each of these had been a great player in his own right. Ponting holds a very very elite place, is definitely among the very best.

  • herodotus on November 30, 2011, 18:47 GMT

    While the article is a bit emotional in supporting Ponting, the fact remains that Ponting has been averaging around 27 for the last 2 years. Steve Waugh and Mark Taylor retired close to their prime, but Ponting has just been hanging on. The focus on Ponting has only taken away valuable time and effort from the focus o groom the next generation of Australian players, which should be the real target area. The writer seems to indicate as if Ponting's boorish behavior is some kind of asset. There are many great players in cricket and several sports who have been champions without resorting to negative behavior. Ponting would go down in history as one of the few players who had to resort to negative behavior in good measure to win games

  • rohan024 on November 30, 2011, 18:23 GMT

    @spence1324 lets not even get into how ponting wud be remembered in england. For england, flintoff was the best allrounder ever, ramprakash was the best batsman ever, Robert croft was the best spinner ever and Monty panesar was the best fielder ever..There's a lot more to Ponting's career than those Ashes defeats..For that matter, how does england remember shane warne ? probably as the guy who caused insomnia in england ?

  • aadi1986 on November 30, 2011, 18:09 GMT

    nope...punter is not as tough as steve waugh. But saying so he was, is and will be a pit bull. never say never is all you will get from him in crisis. And plzzzz end comparisons between DON, SRT, Dravid, LARA, PUNTER, KALLIS all are class above the rest in their own style. After every night comes light, given a chance dumb cricketers got back to winning ways and here we are talking about a great of cricket. Score runs for aussies. On the other hand I did like to see India fair better in the series to come.

  • on November 30, 2011, 17:55 GMT

    punter is gonna hook some short pitches from the kiwis and the indians...i can bet on it....the best in the business..

  • 2.14istherunrate on November 30, 2011, 17:16 GMT

    An interesting article on the Australian. I would not entirely with the writers implication that Ponting was tougher than Waugh, in asmuchas Ponting's feelings were nearer the surface.At times when he boiled over as captain, notably in recent ashes series, he acted like a child in just not respecting the umpires. To me that suggested he felt he was bigger than the game.Other incidents came and went and Ponting's public persona took a self inflicted hammering. Waugh on the other hand never to my knowledge displayed that willingness to cross the uncrossable line. Always a gentleman, he seemed to understand how to behave. he had a better team of course, as the second half of Ponting's captaincy was about fathering a new squad, rather than being first among equals. To his credit however he did manage a touch of joviality to being booed in England. But the suspicions remain with me that it was down to him perhaps that England had no champagne to open after Sydney- a childish mean reaction.

  • on November 30, 2011, 17:10 GMT

    @Baiju Joseph - Love it how you nonchalantly called Sachin Tendulkar as God.

    cheers bro,

  • on November 30, 2011, 16:38 GMT

    There is one single reason we HATE Ricky Ponting with our guts. Simply because of his arrogance on the field. He thinks he is always right. He tries to pester umpires into overruling decisions in his favor. And that is why everyone loves Gilchrist who shared almost every trophy that Ponting has earned as captain. He just goes about his business and plays his game with a smile on his face. Ponting hates his opponents more than he loves the game. I find that very difficult to accept even though he might have scored a gazillion centuries.

  • on November 30, 2011, 15:55 GMT

    Ponting this is what expectation can do to you. All these years you had players who would win matches virtually from any position. So there is no pressure on you. But when others are not performing and you, the australian legend, crumpled under pressure. This just shows how GREAT IS SACHIN TENDULKAR...I am Indian and I believe that Tendulkar will score his 100th and 101st international centuries in the test series...

  • on November 30, 2011, 15:30 GMT

    Gabba pitch is the perfect way for Punter to show his class once again... I think his major problem has been lack of concentration, even in the 62 he made, lost concentration and got out chasing a loose ball. I he gets that right, he is still the biggest asset in this team

  • on November 30, 2011, 15:15 GMT

    I do remember the last days of Mark Waugh's cricketing career. no one would like to forget how he was shown the door despite being one of the best in his prime. the world cricket talks about Aussies for their ruthless and tough decision making attitude. the same applies to Ponting as well. When he was the captain he never allowed any fellow cricketer to spoil his captaincy record with average kind of performance. Ponting should follow the same rule and set the example.

    Australians are habituated to leave their career in their prime. Gilchrist did that. Macgrath proved this point. Warne was good enough for many more matches hayden could have easily dragged his career for few more months. Now it is turn of Ricky Ponting...Mr. Punter don't beg for sympathy

  • on November 30, 2011, 15:13 GMT

    ponting is a gud batmen..no doubt... but his captaincy and winning record credits go to these gr8 players... Warne,MCgrath,Bevan,Symmonds,Hayden,Gillchrist,Hussey... how many times they lost top 5 wickets early and still went onto score 300+ and won later...??? credit goes to hussey,symmonds, bevan... how many time they scored just above 200 and still defended....credit goes to warne,Mcgrath.... how many times warne,Mcgrath turned the match in single overs...? how many times gilchrist,hayden won the match in first 20 overs when they played..?? australians were really lucky to have such gr8 players in the team same time around... By the Grace of these gr8 players ponting is what he is... most of the times he batted without any pressure or feeling of loosing the match if he fails.. no matter what he did....remaining above 8 players always ensured they ended up on winning side...

  • zico123 on November 30, 2011, 15:07 GMT

    as expected Ponting didn't walk off after SA series, so selectors would have to take the hard call on his behalf, it is the best time to blood in youth, no place for very old Ponting anymore who has passed his prime 2 years back, he is a burden on the team, he has nothing to achieve other than personal landmarks, it is time for him to go. time to give youngstars like Warner, Khwaja, Shaun Marsh an extended run

  • zico123 on November 30, 2011, 15:04 GMT

    "There's an elephant in the room at the moment in Ricky Ponting that nobody is really addressing" - Chris Cairns thinks Ponting must go after the Test series against New Zealand

  • loung_singh on November 30, 2011, 14:51 GMT

    tributes to ricky ponting from an indian...one of d two best batsmen of this era other being prince lara...i feel lucky 2 saw these two at their vry best !

  • on November 30, 2011, 14:39 GMT

    Ponting's been my favourite cricketer alongwith SRT, Wasim Akram and Sangakarra for long. These are once in a generation players and we've been fortunate to have seen them in action. I had a chance to meet up with Ponting in London once and not surprisingly he seemed much at ease and polite in person than on the field. Tough guy with lots of talent, I hope he gets to leave on a high whenever he decides to do that.

  • DADA on November 30, 2011, 14:20 GMT

    Ponting is a great batsmen. But I cannot agree to Rob's statement here "Punter has occasionally made Waugh look softer than jelly". If you are talking about falsely claiming for a catch then you are probably correct.

  • on November 30, 2011, 14:05 GMT

    I will not comment on whether his time is up or not, but this i will say, Ricky Ponting is one of the greatest players to grace the game and he deserves to go out as and when he wishes. When he should retire is his call, and only he can make the right call. Till then, lets enjoy whatever is left and savour it as long as it lasts......

  • Gupta.Ankur on November 30, 2011, 13:30 GMT

    I think the reason why ponting is not anywhere as consistent as Sachin is because he is not as "selfish" as Sachin is.......

    Please don't pan me, because this is criticism sachin faces for being the greatest batsman of all time....

  • RandyOZ on November 30, 2011, 13:22 GMT

    Unlike Sachen, Punter can win a game off his own bat. He actually knows what it feels like to make runs in the second innings haha! The greatest since Bradman by a country mile. 100 test wins, out of this world good.

  • Kaze on November 30, 2011, 13:22 GMT

    @Apoorv Pandey when did Bradman say Sachin is greatest, you dream that last night.

  • din7 on November 30, 2011, 13:07 GMT

    Marvellous article. good work rob steen. AND let me say somethin sachin may make 10s & 1000 of runs, but still ponting is the greatest player after bradman. Reason is simple sachin never achieved what ponting has as player as well as captain. sachin has always played for himself till last 3 to 4ys and every of us indians know that, he hardly won us matches, more concerned about his own record. sachin never possessed the hunger to win as ponting has! some indians might absolutely not agree with me.i m indian and i m saying that! But so bitter be it its truth! carry on ponting

  • on November 30, 2011, 12:51 GMT

    Well, everybody abuses Sourav of holding on to his place beyond his date. But, even he scored his best in those years and he definitely had a better average of more than 26 in the last 2 yrs ( which is Ponting's current Avg ). The only reason Punter is in the team, is that they dont want him to retire before Sachin . But he is definitely not helping the cause... He should take cue from Dada's book by retiring himself and not allowing to be dropped. That will salvage some pride..

  • on November 30, 2011, 12:44 GMT

    Yes he is one of the greatest player we have..so wait and see for his form..Don't ignore his talent and performance..If chappel & Cairns told him to retire ,first ask those players their achievement.

  • on November 30, 2011, 12:23 GMT

    great batsman of modern era , still his credit to the team is some thing welcoming , he needs to be more positive and more affensive that earned him most of his career , i am addressing him all the best for the super summer.....

  • rahulcricket007 on November 30, 2011, 12:22 GMT

    I WANT PONTING TO PLAY AT LEST 2 YEARS MORE AND HOPE HE GETS HIGHEST RUNS AGAINST INDIA THIS SUMMER , BUT AS AN INDIAN FAN I WANT INDIA TO WIN THE SERIES .

  • shix on November 30, 2011, 12:02 GMT

    Let him play his natural game, let us stop mounting pressure on him by expecting a 100 or double in coming series. still he has a long way to go, the time is not up. punter forget the off ground plays, you are there to bring Australia again "to top".

  • on November 30, 2011, 12:02 GMT

    Rob

    Ever thought about being a poet , may make more sense for you as well as the readers. I come here for a hard core analysis of players and game.... not someone's special ode for their love etc.

  • on November 30, 2011, 11:57 GMT

    ... hence I believe that Ponting's situation demands a bit more of respect and patience both from the board and from the Australian public who have been highly critical of this modern day master. I believe that he should be encouraged to keep fighting for his place in the squad without being threatened of an axe. He is a huge elephant in the dressing room as Chris Cairns quoted but i guess if the elephant makes jumbo runs again, it would cease to be a problem and this is precisely what CA needs to do.

  • on November 30, 2011, 11:54 GMT

    When a lion is in his prime his roars make the jungle go cold. When the same lion becomes old and finds his old mojo lost, the jungle laughs at him, more like mocking him for his frails just as they feared his roar in his prime. This sudden hue and cry for Ponting's head seems more of the case above. There was a time between 2003 and 2007 when Ponting and his team were undisputed world champs and Ponting was all set to cross Sachin's number of test centuries. But then a point came when the centuries dried up and Australia were trashed in their own background first by the Saffers and then by the Poms. As always Ponting tried to roar but this time his roar seemed to have had no effect on the jungle which ridiculed him for his mediocre efforts. People lets not forget that whoever he might be, he is an all time great and even the god and the wall had times when they were looking down the barrel. The Indians were anxious but never lost faith. Result: both are back on top again....

  • on November 30, 2011, 11:34 GMT

    greatest batsmen after bradman randy oz ha ha ha even your bradman have said sachin is greatest plays like me compare in 2011 both aussies india played in sa sachin scored one big hundred and one fifty ponting 3 ducks one 50 this shows ponting is technically verybad

  • on November 30, 2011, 11:30 GMT

    he is a worst person on behaving with the opponents

  • on November 30, 2011, 11:19 GMT

    Great article and I hope Ponting comes good this summer and retires on a high personally and teamwise against India. Or if he plays so well that he continues it on to the double Ashes, that'd be great to see.

  • BellCurve on November 30, 2011, 11:02 GMT

    The reference to Graeme Pollock also appears incorrect? The great man averaged well above 50 in both his final first class seasons and helped his team, Transvaal, to win the Currie Cup in both those years (1986 and 1987). Maybe Rob Steen is thinking about Dexter?

  • UNIVERSAL_CRICKETER on November 30, 2011, 10:48 GMT

    THE WAY PUNTER USED TO BAT AGGRESSIVELY....ITS VERY SAD TO SEE HIM STRUGGLING.....LIKE AN OLD LION ON HIS LAST LEGS... HE IS DEFINITELY IN TOP FIVE ALONG WITH SACHIN, DRAVID & LARA.....HOPE TO SEE HIM RETURN TO HIS AGGRESSIVE SELF AGAINST NZL......WOULD HAVE BEEN GLAD IF HE IMPROVED ON HIS AVG. 0F 27 FROM 25 INNINGS IN INDIA....HE IS ONE OF THE BEST PLAYER OF FAST BOWLING....

  • stormy16 on November 30, 2011, 10:42 GMT

    Great read but please no one is tougher than Waugh surely. Ponting had a priviledged career surounded by the best but Waugh started when things were tough and went on to become one of the best. Also Waugh played some great back to the wall knocks and who can forget his battle with Ambrose in the WI's. Ponting is easily the best Australian batsman after Bradman (not that I saw him!) due to his superior technique which Waugh didnt have but few would be tougherthan Waugh. This summer will decied Punters fate and he needs runs and plenty of it to keep playing. Aus cannot and dont need to carry a guy for the odd 50 here and there with guys like Marsh and Kawaja on the bench.

  • CheeseOnAStick on November 30, 2011, 10:32 GMT

    Good read. It's saddening to see Ricky struggle for so long now. He's in great shape, still has his reflexes and he's working as hard as ever in the nets based on what I've read. Yet, the performances in the middle just keep eluding him... it just seems so unfair.

  • prozak on November 30, 2011, 10:30 GMT

    There is nothing more I would like to see in cricket than Punter playing on for the next 2 years and being crucial to winning back the Ashes - as well as plenty of wins in-between.

    He is the best cricketer there has ever been and he can bat a bit too.

  • Gupta.Ankur on November 30, 2011, 10:22 GMT

    @ElZoZo: pretty good list of players..........u r unlucky that you haven't seen the greatest batsman of all time - Tendulkar...

    You may visit youtube and make-up for not watching the best.....

  • abhilash.medhi on November 30, 2011, 10:19 GMT

    I understand @ElZoZo and @RandyOZ are being intentionally provocative. There is little doubt Ponting is a modern day great, may be better even than the irrepressible Brian Lara - which explains the outrage that greeted the selection of Cricinfo's All-time Australian XI. But doesn't that tell us something else as well. Probably that the best batsman since the Don is a Mumbaikar and not a Tasmanian or a Trinidadian, much less the Sultan of Multan. Oh wait that's Sehwag, not Inzamam.

  • Manush on November 30, 2011, 9:54 GMT

    Though I am not an Australian supporter, I admire some of the greats for their skills,positive contribution to Cricket and their team at crucial stages and Ricky is one of them. It will be very unfair to run him down !! Barring the current slump in his form he has been very consistent in his contributions at very critical times. He had been carrying a very ordinary team in the last stages of his captaincy and fighting to retain their top spot.In the last test he proved his worth. He is as great as Kalli,Dravid and record master Sachin !!

  • on November 30, 2011, 9:50 GMT

    Why is everyone assuming he will leave gracefully? evidence on the pitch suggests otherwise.

  • Claydo78 on November 30, 2011, 9:30 GMT

    Until someone in state cricket is averaging over 60 with the bat, no one can take punters spot! An inform ponting scares the hell out of every cricketing nation in the world, leave the punts alone and he will come good!

  • spence1324 on November 30, 2011, 9:26 GMT

    Lets be honest about punter,brilliant batman, complete idiot on the field, and he will be remembered here in england as the only Australian captain in fact and any ashes captain to lose 3 ashes series as a captain!

  • Claydo78 on November 30, 2011, 9:26 GMT

    Punter is an absolute champion in every sense of the word! The tragic thing about the whole situation is that he may be forced to leave, by an australian public who loves shooting down their stars! Is all the flak that punter received justified? Before we send another australian champion out to pasture, think about what the man has been through, he captained the greatest team in the history of test cricket (FACT), he won all before him with greats like warne, mcgrath, gilchrist and hayden to name a few and when these greats called it a day who replaced them? Johnson, siddle, hughes, watson, hilfenhaus, bollingere come to mind. While all these players are good at what they do, they aren't champions! Going from cricketing gods, the pinnacle of the cricketing elite to 5th in the rankings just, to having his captaincy questioned and then taken off him. All this has to dent the confidents of even the strongest of players. But like all champions they bounce back and so will punter!

  • SachinIsTheGreatest on November 30, 2011, 9:12 GMT

    So when Ponting abuses Venkatraghavan(I am sure Rob Steen doesn't even know what I am referring to here) or Aleem Dar it is because he is such a great competitor and we all should be gushing at that, pathetic on-field behaviour nothwithstanding? India's obsession with Tendulkar might be bad but Steen's admiration of Ponting's boorish behaviour is just a poor attempt to portray an often ill-mannered cricketer as noble. Ponting is just a cranky loser. It is not a surprise that his worst tantrums have been when his team was on the losing side.

  • rohan024 on November 30, 2011, 9:01 GMT

    someone comparing ponting to inzi is a joke..one of the greatest batsmen being compared to a flat track bully like inzi...Ponting, Tendulkar, and Lara fall in a separate category, which is a notch above Kallis, Dravid, and Waugh.. Arguing about who is/was the best batsman of the 3 - SRT, Ponting or Lara is for nerds and kids, most others know that they were lucky to see all 3 in the same era...

  • Rural_Cricketer on November 30, 2011, 8:54 GMT

    Nice article, but as a pom it is still hard to like him. Others like Warne may have hurt us more on the field, but we still managed to like them. OK, it was hard at times, but grudging respect at the very least.

    Captaincy equivalent of a flat track bully, he was OK when he stellar side, but he lacked the skills to lead a side that was not stuffed with once in a generation stars like Warne, Gilchrist and McGrath. Good batsman, at times very good, but I guess we just never tried to like Punter. Why go to all that effort?

  • CricIndia208 on November 30, 2011, 8:45 GMT

    Ponting is an all-time great and among the greatest players of this era. Second only to Sachin Tendulkar, the greatest player and matchwinner of all times.

  • othello22 on November 30, 2011, 8:21 GMT

    The arguments continue to rage over Punter's place not only in the current Australian side, but also his place among the great players of his era. There is no doubt that he is a great batsman (in his mid-2000's purple patch he was second to none and no-one since the Don has scored runs the way he did during that period) but there are many who continue to question his character and his captaincy. One thing is for certain - When he eventually goes it will be a dark day and the end of an era. Ricky Ponting is the last of his kind and I urge all Aussies to get out there to the grounds this summer and witness in the flesh our greatest batsman since the Don, as you will most likely never get another chance.

  • DasaradhiR on November 30, 2011, 8:00 GMT

    True Champion.. No second thought about it. For few years arguably best batsman in the world. Lead a great team with ease and commanded respect from great team mates with the weight of his own performances. Understandbly, in the absence of great players, the team is in a phase of transition and expectations on this man mounted. Few good contributions by others can also help Pontiong rediscovering his magic. He had left his mark on world cricket and can call his day when on high. Give him some time, he will show his class again, this can only help the youngsters groom under him.

  • Samar_Singh on November 30, 2011, 8:00 GMT

    Punter is a Grt cricketer ... absolutely no doubt ... but he is not an Indian, bitter part ..

  • on November 30, 2011, 7:56 GMT

    great article, well researched and full of facts. Ricky is a great player and should be allowed to chart his course on his own, there is no point in barging at him needlessly.

  • Gupta.Ankur on November 30, 2011, 7:42 GMT

    @RandyOz: pls don't make such silly remarks buddy.......Ponting could only score runs when Aussies had other match winners in the side and he never had to carry the team alone on his shoulders.....like for 3yrs now...

    Ponting success as a player and captain should largely be credited to his more illustrious former mates, who could win matches on their own......

  • KKSid on November 30, 2011, 7:30 GMT

    Simply the greatest batsman of his era, Bar none.

  • Dustin on November 30, 2011, 7:11 GMT

    Time spent reading this article is time I'll never get back...what a load of drivel!

  • blaster_boy on November 30, 2011, 7:03 GMT

    well..as an indian, i respect ponting very much, as a great competitor. he is one of the greatest batsman ever , and we should leave him alone, on his own decision ..... we read so much article like this about sachin tendulkar, in 1st decade of 2000's......

  • on November 30, 2011, 6:55 GMT

    He is definitely one of the greatest batsmen to ever grace a cricket field. But painting all the people who don't care much for Ponting as a leader or person of character as "self-loathing left" is just downright silly.

    No one is perfect. However perfect Ponting's pull shot is, he does not subscribe to the values of cricket. He remains a mere sportsman - to whom winning is everything. To all who feel that is pretty much what Cricket is about would love Ponting. Those who think cricket is slightly more than just the base "win or lose" mentality, wouldn't care much for Ponting.

    It is tough but it is true. Let us not romanticize the idea of Ponting. He is a great batsman. He is a lousy cricketer. And that is my opinion.

  • on November 30, 2011, 6:49 GMT

    Classic player needs space and time and require the faith of his teammates and his own faith to believe in his abilities.Can win matches single handedly.Needs to keep his spirit high he should believe that he have 2-3 yrs in him and he should only enjoy his batting and not try hard to focus on his batting.I believe Ricky(punter)can do this.And don't forget his century against India in the knock out match in the World Cup 2011..Good luck

  • on November 30, 2011, 6:47 GMT

    Punter is one of the best batsmen in his time and surely needs a better farewell at home against India.And I really don't see Khwaja as a great prospect to take his place.Would prefer someone like David Hussey or Callum Ferguson.

  • sweetspot on November 30, 2011, 6:32 GMT

    Maybe if he could just shut up and play the game, instead of throwing so much attitude, he would get everybody's respect too. Punter will always be remembered by many as a wonderful cricketer but a less than wonderful person. On current form, if he is the best Australia can come up with at his position, that's bankruptcy right there.

  • on November 30, 2011, 6:27 GMT

    Tendulkar Vs Pointing Vs Qaliis Vs Lara. ?.

  • Rahul_78 on November 30, 2011, 6:16 GMT

    Ricky has scored 2 hundreds and 14 half century's at an average of 35.76 since Jan 2009 and is behind Hussey, Clarke and Watson for number of runs scored in the tests for OZ. This is tentatively the transition phase of OZ cricket after many greats decided to call it quits and Ricky was entrusted the responsibility to guide the young side under him specifically in batting and leadership department. The figures are certainly not flattering. Without a doubt Ricky is a world class champion but when he had to shoulder the burden of carrying his team without the stalwarts like Mcgrath and Warne he hasn't been able to deliver to his maximum potential.

  • Jan on November 30, 2011, 6:10 GMT

    Lovely article!! If Punter reads this then definitely he would feel motivated enough for a big score. A true champion needs just one good innings to be back on track and I feel Ponting is in line next.

  • BillyCC on November 30, 2011, 6:04 GMT

    Ponting's average has faded alarmingly from an average beyond 57 that would have put him amongst the greatest of all time, to 52 which sees him amongst other greats. In recent times, we have seen four seasoned veterans all having played around 150 or more tests in Ponting, Tendulkar, Kallis and Dravid. Only Ponting seems to have suffered the alarming drop in form, the other three are still doing extremely well. Which shows that age should not really be a consideration to drop great batsman.

  • jonesy2 on November 30, 2011, 5:57 GMT

    i love how crowds boo him, it is the utmost sign of respect because they cant be silent, they cant clap, he is far beyond that, they have to boo, out of fear and respect. someone like andrew strauss, jonathan trott or alastair cook come to the crease nobody even notices nor cares

  • johnathonjosephs on November 30, 2011, 5:48 GMT

    lets not get carried away, he's a legend in Test cricket, up there with kallis, tendulkar, dravid, sanga, and lara, but not "the best batsman since Bradman" like RandyOz

  • Imz25 on November 30, 2011, 5:45 GMT

    This is one of the finest articles ever written for cricinfo! Ponting surely is the most bloody-minded and competitive cricketer I've witnessed. A real team man!

  • ravi.m on November 30, 2011, 5:45 GMT

    ..

    "Tougher than the rest? You bet."

    Apt finish to a brilliant piece!

  • jonesy2 on November 30, 2011, 5:42 GMT

    nice nice article. yes the greatest test winner should go when he knows he has nothing left, but if he feels he had anything left, and he does, he needs to stay until the tank is empty, because once hes gone, thats it.

  • on November 30, 2011, 5:41 GMT

    Well written article for sure. I myself am a big admirer of Ponting's talent, temperament & aggression and moreover his passion & love for the game of cricket. Saying all this I don't mean Ponting should play for more and more years, that would be unrealistic but yes he definitely has few years, say 2 or 3, of cricket left in him & can certainly stand up to the standard he has set for himself until now. I wish to see him playing few more years like a true champion that he is & hang up his bat like a great hero.IMHO, presently, it is very unfair to ask for his retirement.

  • Avid.Cricket.Watcher on November 30, 2011, 5:40 GMT

    One doesn't know how the Ponting story will end. But it is a fact that Ponting (while a great of the modern game) has averaged under 25 in the last year, and less than 40 in the last 4 years. In fact, Simon Katich, who is younger than Ponting, scored more runs at a higher average (around the 50 mark) since 2008. Yes, Ponting made an important contribution in the last Test; but the win was a massive team effort and owed more to Cummins, Siddle (who sparked a collapse in the 1st innings), a big 1st innings opening partnership (170), and finally Haddin and Johnson (75+ runs over the 2 innings). The point is Ponting hasn't really made enough runs to justify his spot for a long time now. If younger batsmen need his experience, make him the joint batting coach; and give young players like Khwaja, Warner, et al the opportunity that a young Ponting was once given.

  • on November 30, 2011, 5:38 GMT

    I think the critics have been better with Punter than the Australian cricket fan who has been extremely impatient with Punter. Yes he lost the Ashes and I am sure the Australians will not forget or forgive. But how does one forget his own phenomenal batting, three world cup wins, two as captain and the leading batsman for Australia ever even if you tend to forget that his test team has been top of the heap for years on end. I think Punter"s decision has to have some bearing on the development of the team. Surely you cant have eight debut ants playing in the the team at the same time. I think both the kiwis and the Indians have a healthy respect for him and whatever people like Chris Cairns might say , Pontings batting, fielding and mere aura can mean something for Australia at least till the summer is over. Punter will know when he has to leave. Whenever he leaves Australian cricket will be the poorer for it. sridhar

  • pranavcrazyguy on November 30, 2011, 5:20 GMT

    Decent article. Except when you mentioned Pollock and Harmison in the same breath. Graeme Pollock was effectively a victim of SA's apartheid policies. Harmison got innumerable chances but could not shine except once in a while.

    About Ponting being tough - true. Toughest? No way. "Toughest" people don't get in others' faces at the drop of a hat. They don't argue with umpiring decisions, claim catches they never took, and be generally rude. Neither do they get booed so often.

    Ponting has mellowed down - but only because he realizes that he has lost everything that kept him on the high horse. Around 2008 he lost the great team that made him the most successful captain, and after the last Ashes he lost his captaincy. In between he lost his batting - even if form is temporary and class permanent. By the way, how great was Ponting's performance from 1995 to 2001? Just good. From 2007 onwards? Pretty mediocre. For 5 years of brilliance in a career of 16 years, he becomes a "great", how?

  • on November 30, 2011, 5:20 GMT

    jimbond-

    thank you. The only voice of reason here it seems.

    This is without a doubt one of the most sentimental things I've read on cricinfo.

  • on November 30, 2011, 5:14 GMT

    Finally. Of all the things that are beyond my comprehension currently in the cricket world, it is this wanton disrespect - bordering sometimes on hatred - of Ponting that I can't stand. He isn't a role model of zen like perfection like Tendulkar, sure. But no one can question the man's utter professionalism and commitment to his team. It is only when guys like him leave the stage we begin to appreciate their contributions. Personally, I hope he goes on for a couple of more years provided he is scoring runs. If he isn't then there's no need to push and prod him to leave. He is good enough to do so on his own. Good luck, Punter.

  • Quazar on November 30, 2011, 5:14 GMT

    "Punter has occasionally made Waugh look softer than jelly." Lost interest at this point... credibility of the piece went sub-zero.

  • vineetkarthi on November 30, 2011, 4:52 GMT

    What has made Cricket interesting in the last three years is the fact that some of its best have been inspiring each other to excel themselves even as others wrote them off. Sachin made a comeback that has been breathtaking, Dravid has shut up all and sundry who thought he is finished, Kallis has continued his impressive run. So will Ponting disappear without a final blast. I wonder, I think not... As to the point about him being tougher than the rest, I disagree...

  • cosman on November 30, 2011, 4:52 GMT

    Looks like a good PR exercise for Mr.Ponting. One of my most enduring images of ponting is in the sydney test on the 5th day. he didnt behave like an aussie captain, but more like a convict offloaded of the ship coming from Britain. Now he behaves more gently because his powers have waned. Despite all this he will always be ranked the best aussie batsman after the DON.But its better he goes on a high, rather than sticking on and ending in the decision to retire being taken away from him.

  • ElZoZo on November 30, 2011, 4:43 GMT

    A true champion. I feel priveleged to have seen some of the finest batsmen over the last 15 years. Punter, B.C. Lara, Kallis, Dravid and of course the true match winner Inzamam (See Karachi 1995 vs Aus or Multan 2003 vs Bangla as examples). What sets these guys apart is that they have truly been the foundation for any success their teams have had. Play on Punter. You have miles to go

  • am2567323 on November 30, 2011, 4:35 GMT

    Marvelous! One of the best articles I've ever read.

  • Kaze on November 30, 2011, 4:16 GMT

    Brightly fades the Punter

  • gururajan23 on November 30, 2011, 4:15 GMT

    Nice article and spot on.. He never got any pity even when he was struggling though cricket will miss him once he is not here anymore. Great competitor and batsman. Hope he plays 1 more season.

  • SirBobJones on November 30, 2011, 4:02 GMT

    "Ponting must envy Kurtis Patterson, the New South Wales left-hander who on Monday struck the 16th boundary of an audacious innings - against Ponting's own state to boot"

    I thought Patterson's innings was against WA, not "Ponting's own state".

  • Stevo_ on November 30, 2011, 4:02 GMT

    Punter is god...........

  • RandyOZ on November 30, 2011, 3:53 GMT

    The greatest batsman in cricket since Bradman deserves at least this summer to show his stuff.

  • jimbond on November 30, 2011, 3:49 GMT

    'Punter has occasionally made Waugh look softer than jelly' You really made me laugh Rob. That one line takes away all credibility from the article. One could argue convincingly that Border was tougher than Waugh, though by not much. Ponting is no more tougher than Clarke or Gilchrist. However Ponting did have a lot to offer to Australia in the next few years. His great value was, that though he was not a great (or even particularly good) captain, Captaincy seemed to have a positive effect on his batting. Captaincy seemed to enable him to fight tough battles, and put a higher price on his wicket- unlike several other great batting contemporaries. The australian Board seems to have missed a trick by removing him from captaincy. If he is in form, pretenders like Kwaja are still not good enough to displace him, but if Ponting continues to struggle, many others will be better than him.

  • Rosey86 on November 30, 2011, 3:30 GMT

    Ahhh Kurtis Patterson scored his ton against Western Australia, not Tasmania. Great article though, i think it presents Ponting as i see him. I don't want him pushed, I would prefer he steps away on his own terms knowing that others are ready to take his place. I expect a century from him against the Kiwi's

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  • Rosey86 on November 30, 2011, 3:30 GMT

    Ahhh Kurtis Patterson scored his ton against Western Australia, not Tasmania. Great article though, i think it presents Ponting as i see him. I don't want him pushed, I would prefer he steps away on his own terms knowing that others are ready to take his place. I expect a century from him against the Kiwi's

  • jimbond on November 30, 2011, 3:49 GMT

    'Punter has occasionally made Waugh look softer than jelly' You really made me laugh Rob. That one line takes away all credibility from the article. One could argue convincingly that Border was tougher than Waugh, though by not much. Ponting is no more tougher than Clarke or Gilchrist. However Ponting did have a lot to offer to Australia in the next few years. His great value was, that though he was not a great (or even particularly good) captain, Captaincy seemed to have a positive effect on his batting. Captaincy seemed to enable him to fight tough battles, and put a higher price on his wicket- unlike several other great batting contemporaries. The australian Board seems to have missed a trick by removing him from captaincy. If he is in form, pretenders like Kwaja are still not good enough to displace him, but if Ponting continues to struggle, many others will be better than him.

  • RandyOZ on November 30, 2011, 3:53 GMT

    The greatest batsman in cricket since Bradman deserves at least this summer to show his stuff.

  • Stevo_ on November 30, 2011, 4:02 GMT

    Punter is god...........

  • SirBobJones on November 30, 2011, 4:02 GMT

    "Ponting must envy Kurtis Patterson, the New South Wales left-hander who on Monday struck the 16th boundary of an audacious innings - against Ponting's own state to boot"

    I thought Patterson's innings was against WA, not "Ponting's own state".

  • gururajan23 on November 30, 2011, 4:15 GMT

    Nice article and spot on.. He never got any pity even when he was struggling though cricket will miss him once he is not here anymore. Great competitor and batsman. Hope he plays 1 more season.

  • Kaze on November 30, 2011, 4:16 GMT

    Brightly fades the Punter

  • am2567323 on November 30, 2011, 4:35 GMT

    Marvelous! One of the best articles I've ever read.

  • ElZoZo on November 30, 2011, 4:43 GMT

    A true champion. I feel priveleged to have seen some of the finest batsmen over the last 15 years. Punter, B.C. Lara, Kallis, Dravid and of course the true match winner Inzamam (See Karachi 1995 vs Aus or Multan 2003 vs Bangla as examples). What sets these guys apart is that they have truly been the foundation for any success their teams have had. Play on Punter. You have miles to go

  • cosman on November 30, 2011, 4:52 GMT

    Looks like a good PR exercise for Mr.Ponting. One of my most enduring images of ponting is in the sydney test on the 5th day. he didnt behave like an aussie captain, but more like a convict offloaded of the ship coming from Britain. Now he behaves more gently because his powers have waned. Despite all this he will always be ranked the best aussie batsman after the DON.But its better he goes on a high, rather than sticking on and ending in the decision to retire being taken away from him.