Christian Ryan
Writer based in Melbourne. Author of Golden Boy: Kim Hughes and the Bad Old Days of Australian Cricket

Ponting's fine, Ponting's odd

In Melbourne he began both innings serenely, before losing form a bit. He now seems to need to think where once he barely had to

Christian Ryan

January 2, 2012

Comments: 52 | Text size: A | A

Ricky Ponting loses his balance while pulling for a four, Australia v India, 1st Test, Melbourne, 1st day, December 26, 2011
Falling over didn't stop Ponting scoring in Melbourne © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Ricky Ponting
Series/Tournaments: India tour of Australia
Teams: Australia

A sort of calenture - the tropical delirium that sweeps over far-from-home sailors, who imagine the seas to be green fields and desire to leap into them - has engulfed Australia's old captain. The ball comes, his feet move, the bat feels light and good in his hands. Pulls and hook shots spring off it, same as they ever did. He longs to leap, to wave his bat appreciatively at a crowd over the fence that's clapping - and these people are clapping - but out of the corners of their mouths, he sees, they are murmuring too.

Ricky Ponting is batting well. Ricky Ponting is batting odd. Consider Melbourne, most recent. In the first innings he fished out of his kitbag three main scoring strokes. Most reassuring, anytime a bowler wandered leg side, was the clip off his pads or hip, hit with a very old ruthlessness. Most dramatic was the pull/hook, this one hit seemingly at random, premeditated, sometimes from a wooden school ruler's distance outside off stump, and always with low, fast hands and his eyes fixed on the ball. The push-and-scamper for a single was Ponting's third scoring shot. Occasionally, in little clumps, something snapped; his 83rd ball, from offspinner Ravichandran Ashwin, provoked a sweep shot - a fissure in Ponting's memory - and 86th ball he swept again. Also, just once, with butterfly-soft wrists, he unfurled an on-drive - he was fielding at the time, an air shot, in imitation of a real shot Sachin Tendulkar had just played. Mostly Ponting stuck to his three shots and when all three seemed in working order there hung in the mid-afternoon a feeling of timelessness.

Between scoring shots in that first innings, Ponting let balls pass or blocked them. Sometimes after blocking he took a big exaggerated stride, or two strides, and froze in that pose. For the cameras? This was new. You noticed it. Ponting is batting great, it made you think, where once you'd just think: Ponting is batting. Think. The crowd's murmurs, a sound Ponting never used to hear, are making him think, something he once barely had to do. "I think," said Ponting, "some of the technical things I was working on were a little bit better this week."

The way he said that, it was as if a game's a game, just one game - which it is, and isn't. Usually a batsman bats twice. In the second innings Ponting hooked at nothing. He pulled a total of two singles. This was over the course of two-and-a-half hours' batting. In front of the wicket, he did the push-and-scamper for a single only three times.

Ponting's best scoring shot, this second innings, played pinball with the gully fieldsman - sending him sprawling left, grappling to the right, sometimes with a stiff-wristed steer, other times with a hammer swipe. Twice, Ponting climbed on tiptoes and jumped with his whole body into the shot. Forty thousand people were in on a blowy, blue-sky Wednesday. They didn't come specifically because this might be goodbye: there had been enough maybe-goodbyes for Ponting already, and a crowd can put itself through that wringer only so many times, it needs to cotton-wool emotions. Ponting - this second-innings Ponting - pleased them. He confused them.

Between scoring shots, Ponting let balls pass or blocked them. Sometimes after blocking he took a big exaggerated stride, or two strides, and froze in that pose. For the cameras? This was new. You noticed it. Ponting is batting great, it made you think

Next day he fielded. Something I'd never noticed before - Ponting standing, hands on hips, between deliveries. Then I watched him catch a ball that was tossed to him, hold it up, peer at the seam, rub it, start swivelling his arms around ready to growl out instructions, and then, no longer captain, stop swivelling them.

Ponting's two weirdly different innings had two elements, both curious, in common. First, he began them serenely - this despite, in the first innings, falling over three times (falling over didn't stop him scoring) and swinging, missing and getting sconed by an Umesh Yadav bumper (he swung and missed too fast, which is mere over-enthusiasm, not too slow, which implies old age). Second, he was prone, both times, to losing a bit of attentiveness and skating alarmingly out of form, whatever form is, for several-over intervals at a time. All this, when you threaded it together, was something curiouser than curious: it was uncharacteristic. Ponting, typically, never began innings serenely, not even his epic masterpieces of yore; and he never ever let his form lapse. Getting in - that was the trick. Once in, he was superglued in, and rain-dancing elephants couldn't shake him out.

After Ponting's first innings, a 62, a colossus of Australian cricket punditry squatted beside the MCG press box's automated tea urn. "Can't carry on a score," the colossus said. "Drop him. Selectors are in a time warp. It's beyond a joke." After Ponting's second innings, a 60, no one in earshot said anything like that. But Ponting knows a 62 and a 60 only buys him time. It doesn't buy him peace.

In cricket, you see, hundreds are the thing. People right now are mildly obsessed with Tendulkar hitting his hundredth "international" hundred - a figure arrived at by totting up his Test and one-day centuries. Tendulkar is currently marooned on 99 hundreds. Cross out hundreds struck against Kenya, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and Namibia - all weakling attacks who many rational-minded cricket people would happily cross out - and he has only 81 hundreds. Does that make the mild obsession with 100 mildly irrational, or, at best, notional?

Maybe. But Ponting hasn't hit a hundred of the Test match variety in 718 days. Home must feel far away.

Funny game, cricket, with its preoccupation with round numerical landmarks, though there's more to it than that. Hundreds win matches. A couple of 60s would have won Ponting the tournament, were this golf, a game he loves. Golf's a game he may soon be playing a lot more of - soon, not yet.

Christian Ryan is a writer based in Melbourne. He is the author of Golden Boy: Kim Hughes and the Bad Old Days of Australian Cricket and, most recently Australia: Story of a Cricket Country

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Posted by Harmony111 on (January 4, 2012, 22:26 GMT)

All was fine with this article till the author decided to do some needless funny thing on Sachin's record. 1st, why should a batsman's record against a weak team not be counted? 2nd, even with that, Sachin still is way ahead of Ponting (or anyone else), so its not that Sachin has filled his boots with some easy sand on the beach, he has dug the hard soil to strike gold. 3rd, the 100 100 feat would be a terrific feat, the only reason the author is not giving it its due is because its is Sachin and not Ponting nearing that. In the end, one must point out that Ponting has been pretty awful for about 3 years now (although he is a proven champ) so if he gets 2 50s after so many months wait it does not mean much.

Posted by dms1972 on (January 4, 2012, 8:14 GMT)

@ its.rachit, Did you not read my stats comparing Ponting's and Tendulkar's stats against those great bowlers in the late 90's? Ponting's record was better, which means Tendulkar scored runs against weaker attacks. And just because Cricinfo didn't select Ponting in THEIR best teams, doesn't mean a thing. In many other all-time XI teams selected by other great players, Ponting is selected. I'm not trying to diminish the record of Tendulkar, because clearly he is one of the all-time greats. I'm just sick and tired of Tendulkar fans trashing the reputation of Ponting, who is also one of the all-time greats. And FYI, Ponting's first 5800 runs came at an average of 56!

Posted by Bharath.Narasimhan on (January 3, 2012, 18:41 GMT)

Ponting is playing with all tricks in his trade,you have to imagine,a guy who dint score a ton for past couple of years and struggling to get a place in playing XI,a team like india,a good quality side,lot of eyes watching you,that guy comes n scores back to back 60's is very good according to presemt scenerio.You can't just write hiim off,he is there to make a statement and he will make it on his own terms.Tomorrow he may score a 60 again or even the ton he is desparately waiting for.Wether its 100th ton or a ton which you're desparately waiting for 2 years all that matters is your team wins and for that even a half century would do.

Posted by gung-ho on (January 3, 2012, 15:13 GMT)

@RandyOZ - the 'other guy' is playing for records? sir, it would be great if you could put some stats to substantiate.

Posted by AidanFX on (January 3, 2012, 15:07 GMT)

Why does one eyed bias towards the player representing ones respective country cause people to be so mean-spirited and slanderous to one another? Ponting has been a great player; when he was in his prime he decimated attacks all around the world in both forms of international cricket. - This article is NOT about Tendulka so I have noting to say about him here - but hey; rest assured I will give him glowing praises when he get's his 100th - 100.

Posted by hydepark on (January 3, 2012, 14:33 GMT)

i would have to go for tendulkar, lara and ponting then kaliis based solely on there skill. the next question is then how well did these guys perform when captain.tendulkar was a flop lara didnt do anything special till his second stint and kallis if i can remember has never been a permanent captain despite playing international cricket for 16 years. Ponting is not austrailia's greatest captain but managed to keep up his consistency with the bat for a while so on that basis he would go ahead of tendulkar in that catergory.

Posted by natmastak_so-called on (January 3, 2012, 12:45 GMT)

@ author, why exclude centuries against minnows, and even if that criteria is applied,then your distant second has only 55 centuries against the 81 of the BEST.

Posted by freddieraghu on (January 3, 2012, 12:27 GMT)

I'm taking only contemporary players... Lara... Attacking Batsman, Better Fielder, Average Captain... Kallis... Fine Batsmen, Fine Bowler, Fine Fielder... Ponting... Good Batsman, Brilliant Fielder, Better Captain... Tendulkar... Brilliant Batsman, part time bowler, average fielder, pathetic and worst captain... Dravid... Better Batsmen, Brilliant Slip Fielder, Ordinary Captain... Who is great??? Dont even Think about it... No one can say... They are all great...

Posted by its.rachit on (January 3, 2012, 12:05 GMT)

@dms - sachin played just abt 0 odd matches till the end of the 90s and made 5800 runs at an average of around 58 ... read the stats .. and then comment ... and ne1 (and i hope u do) wud agree that the bowling quality in the 90s was far far better than it is now ... ponting did not reach an average of 50 till the 2000s .. when the walsh, ambrose had retired and donald, wasim and others were past their prime ... u can argue whatever u want ... but if ponting was not even selected in suatralis all time XI and sachin made it to the world all time XI ... i rest my case there ... all arguments end ... and the indian fans did not select the team ... greats of the game did ... u can find fault with that as well ...

Posted by   on (January 3, 2012, 12:02 GMT)

The fact is only one who is match winner Sachin Tendulkar ? or Ponting Sachin is always a match loser century maker

Posted by Fast_Track_Bully on (January 3, 2012, 11:14 GMT)

@RandyOZ. Few years back Ponting fan's argued that Ponting will overtake the 'other guy's' records in all formats! And now Ponting is no way near to it and someothers gonna take his 2nd spot in the list too. grapes are sore - thats all!

Posted by test_match_lover on (January 3, 2012, 10:38 GMT)

@rahulkmc : So,what you are saying is a sportman who practices with the best equipment he has and does well on the field is not that thing you will say is players from countries with better sports infrastructure are not good because they practice with good equipment .and that is why they perform..but our athletes are better....ponting is as good as any player...I dont know on has to be better than the other...ponting,lara,sachin are all brilliant players and we can just enjoy what they bring to the sport and leave it at that...

Posted by Sheffali on (January 3, 2012, 10:38 GMT)

Under the name of the writer,its written January 28, 2012! Found it weird! It seems a typo error!Do check the same plz

Posted by Sheffali on (January 3, 2012, 10:35 GMT)

What a great write up Christian!! Ricky's has certainly proved his every critic that what he is up to.Its not easy to perform under such immense pressure and he came out victoriously. Looking forward to his tomorrow's inning and as a Ponting fan i want him to gift us a Test Century as a New Year gift! Reading other people's comment on this article has increased my knowledge more on cricket. Ponting is a champion and will remain so!

Posted by hhillbumper on (January 3, 2012, 10:11 GMT)

surely some of this arguement is a moot point.Different batsmen of different eras face different challenges.They do not play on damp pitches these days and so techniques have changed.I enjoy Ponting for what he does.I can ejoy Tendulkar of rpurity of technique though am slightly put off by the thought he only plays for himself.Lara was too mecurial and I still think Richards for what he did for the team and the sheer fear element was better than the others.But it is all a difficult choice and personally my favourite batsman was Gower for his sheer elegance.

Posted by Tumbarumbar on (January 3, 2012, 10:00 GMT)

A few of the forgoing comments regarding Bradman's average dropping by 10 when minnows are considered bears further thought. From memory he averaged in the mid 50s in the 5 test Bodyline series, a series which took up over a sixth of his 29 test career. Given body line was banned shortly after when the 'minnow' West Indians gave the English their very own version of body line it would make more sense to exclude those matches from his overall career. Just a thought.

Posted by RandyOZ on (January 3, 2012, 7:59 GMT)

Ponting again today showed why he is the best of his generation. He would die on his sword for Aus and couldn't give a hoot about records unlike the other guy!

Posted by Troglodyte on (January 3, 2012, 7:57 GMT)

Recently there was an article written here which included all batsmen, current and past, who played the same number of consecutive innings that Bradman did. Of course, Bradman was the best of the best. Guess who was clearly second best, PONTING. Over a long period of time, Ponting has conclusively proved himself to be the second best ever. Of the current batsmen now playing, numerous names have been bandied about as being the best, strangely enough, nobody has mentioned Kumar Sangakkara. Does anyone realize that after throwing away the keeping gloves and batting at number 3, he has averaged over 70. Nobody else has ever averaged that number batting at number 3. So should Sangakkara be considered the best batsman today? Actually there was one other person who averaged 200 for Australia batting at number 3 and that was Jason Gillespie. He was subsequently dropped after that as he was not considered good enough. As he was also not out, he doesn't have an average.

Posted by   on (January 3, 2012, 7:18 GMT)

I don't wish to enter in a debate about who's the best batsman after Bradman - I can't split Ponting, Tendulkar, Lara and Richards, to name but a few, while Dravid and Sanggakara are vastly underrated. But what hasn't been mentioned (unless I've glossed over previous comments) is that Ponting has scored 9904 Test runs at an average of 56.27 batting at No.3, often regarded as the most difficult position to bat at, while Tendulkar has never come in at the fall of the first wicket. A measure of Ponting's greatness is that both his average at No.3 and as captain comfortably exceed his career average, indicating that responsibility brings out the best in him.

Posted by rahulkmc on (January 3, 2012, 5:41 GMT)

Ponting 2nd best of all time? he has 3 shots !!! And he has had the luxury of practicing against best bowlers of all time - spin/swing/pace and had to face mediocre bowlers in real games. Others like Lara, Tendulkar, even Kallis have carried their countries for majority of their playing careers. Any of these 3 will figure in the top 3 , well ahead of Ponting.

Posted by dms1972 on (January 3, 2012, 1:49 GMT)

@abu316 From the beginning of Tendulkar's career through to the end of the 90's he scored about 5800 runs, since then he's scored nearly 10,000 runs. Obviously maths isn't your strong point.

Posted by notvery on (January 3, 2012, 0:38 GMT)

2nd greatest of all time??? how about Hammond? Hobbs, Sobers, Richards, lara, Sutcliffe???? or just looking at Australia Trumper, Ponsford, Chappell.. i would suggest that Ricky, who i rate VERY highly, can not be so easily put as the second best bat behind bradman for Australia let alone the world. P.S i didnt include sachin cos he is overratted. doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the names above.

Posted by dms1972 on (January 2, 2012, 23:28 GMT)

@abu316 Did you realise that, in the second half of the nineties (which were Ponting's first 4-5 years in Test cricket, when both Lara and Tendulkar had been playing over 10 years), the best fast bowling attacks in the world were South Africa, with Alan Donald and Shaun Pollock, and Pakistan, with Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram. Tendulkar's record in the late 90's against Pakistan and South Africa is very poor indeed, averaging 30 and 34 respectively. Whereas Ponting averaged 63 against Pakistan and almost 50 against South Africa, as well as 57 agaisnt Wset Indies with Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh leading the bowling attack.

Posted by HatsforBats on (January 2, 2012, 22:28 GMT)

Astonishing that critics of Ponting rationalise their opinion based on his form as a 36 yr old. He's not the batsman he was and no batsman is at that stage in their career, not even SRT. In my 30 years of watching cricket I have seen perhaps just a few other batsmen who could match (or better) Ponting at his best; Lara, SRT, Richards, Gilchrist. These players are a class apart. And those who criticise him not facing McGrath/Warne etc., I remember an innings he played for Tas against a NSW attack of McGrath, MacGill, and Stuart Clark (3 bowlers with brilliant test records). He scored a century.

Posted by HatsforBats on (January 2, 2012, 22:15 GMT)

@ hhillbumper; BC Lara was better than Richards, I'm not quite old enough to have seen Sobers though.

Posted by kevnssuresh on (January 2, 2012, 21:21 GMT)

I am not sure why people always comment about retirement like in case Ponting a while ago about Dravid, Ganguly etc, they have been playing for a long time and they know when they have to retire. They are legends, great players and few of them are great captains as well. Also we shouldn't be comparing Ponting, Tendulkar, Don, or Lara, they are all great played/playing exceptionally well and every one has their own style and limitations. Better to stop comparing and praise them whatever they have been doing and whatever value they have added to the team, mentoring junior players etc. In my case I don't want to compare players, they are all legends otherwise we don't even talk about these legends :). Ponting is always great and a great threat for opponents, same goes with Tendulkar, Dravid, Hussey, etc. Good luck legends (whoever still playing), I know you still have lot of cricket in each of you.

Posted by disco_bob on (January 2, 2012, 21:18 GMT)

@ abu316 Yes, Ricky's sublime batting was only due to the bowling attack of Warne/Mcgrath. Can't argue with that logic.

Posted by disco_bob on (January 2, 2012, 20:40 GMT)

This is why I read cricket articles. It's been a bit of a drought but this one is a double ton.

Posted by AKR5 on (January 2, 2012, 18:37 GMT)

Through the 90's Lara competed with sachin for the no.1 batsman's title, late in the 90's, it was Mark Waugh, in the early and mid 2000' it was Ponting, later it was Kallis and at one point even Hussey was in consideration not just with Sachin but with Bradman. The point is that every top player goes through a purple patch (like Gambhir) where they touch the heights of all great players but it lasts for a short period. The greatness of Sachin is not that he has surpassed the limits that these players have touched but that his whole career has been a purple patch that others long to touch over short periods. So when we talk about players with great averages over 30-50 matches, remember what Hussey had done during that time. The only exception is Bradman who did it in 52 tests but over 20 years which is a tirbute to his consistency like Sachin. Wont compare the two bcos they existed in different times.

Posted by hhillbumper on (January 2, 2012, 17:56 GMT)

Randy Oz: Second best batsman would be either Sobers or Richards.Sobers could score on all tracks and Richards destroyed bowling around the world.Not something you can say about Ponting and his slightly crap record in Asia.

Posted by samincolumbia on (January 2, 2012, 17:10 GMT)

Ponting is an over rated batsman who scored runs in the company of other greats in his team and did not have to face the world's best bowlers of his time!!

You just have to look at his average for the last three years and the facts speak for themselves!! Anybody can score a mountain of runs when there is no pressure, but the moment the other greats retired, Ponting was supposed to lead the batting. But he could not handle the pressure because he had never been in that situation before. These days there are more articles about Ponting's 'greatness' than the runs scored by him!

Posted by PradeepR on (January 2, 2012, 16:41 GMT)

Don't measure Sachin and Ponting against their standards when they were their best, measure them against the fact that if there are any that could replace them in their position. If any youngster is good enough to replace them and still not getting their chances I would be the first in line to ask for their retirements.

Posted by PradeepR on (January 2, 2012, 16:37 GMT)

@Jade Valley - You realize that Sachin is still in the Indian team because he is still one of the best in the country not because someone wants to play him as long as he wants to play, right? His longevity alone is enough to make him a great of the game.

"Had Lara or anyone played as long as Tendulkar, their records would have been similar." Why do you think they're not playing? Because they sucked towards the end of their careers? Lost interest? Lost form and were afraid they might be dropped?

I wish people left Sachin and Ponting alone. They are still playing because they're still in the top few batsmen in their respective countries despite poor form, old age (for international sport) etc.

Posted by   on (January 2, 2012, 16:31 GMT)

The way I see it, Australia needs Ponting - not the other way around. Ponting has made the choice to stay longer and ease the transition period the team is going through. The team and Clarke will need an elder statesman like Ponting and Hussey to shore the batting in moments like MCG 2nd innings. In deciding to stay back, he has put his immediate legacy in the hands of those with short memories (like this ' colossus of Australian cricket punditry' you spoke of, Christian). I can't think of many sportsmen who would do that and it only serves to remind those of us who need reminding of his peerless contribution to Australian cricket. Suppose you want to remove the rose-tinted glasses and look at Ponting with a hard calculating eye - fine. Give him a year, until the next Boxing Day test. I have no doubt his return to form is just around the corner. If it doesn't happen, fine. He's still done more than all the cricket pundits put together.

Posted by abu316 on (January 2, 2012, 16:01 GMT)

Ricky pointing is nowhere near the class of sachin lara..they made half of there career runs in the nineties when legendary bowlers existed..ricky ponting had one great innings as the captain in a world cup final..other than that he was just enjoying the comfort given to him by the best bowling attack of the times (glenn gilly warne lee) ..that became evident towards the end of the last decade when these legends quit the game and when he had to run the team alone..(like sachin n lara had to always! )

Posted by   on (January 2, 2012, 12:27 GMT)

Ah Randy OZ, I think you are mistaken. Ricky Ponting is the second best Australian batsman of all time, but Brian Lara was the second greatest batsman of all time. Why I say this? If you look at the current records of Lara and Ponting, you would realize that Lara has the better conversion rate of centuries to half centuries. Additionally, if we take runs per match volume and the magnitude of centuries scored, Lara beats ALL contemporary batsmen, including Tendulkar. Tendulkar has a higher average than Lara, and now has way more test centuries and odi centuries, therefore more runs, mainly as a result of his longevity in the game. This is not to say that Tendulkar or Ponting are not world class, and highly skilled batsmen. Had Lara or anyone played as long as Tendulkar, their records would have been similar.

Posted by dms1972 on (January 2, 2012, 12:14 GMT)

Don't take anything Gupta.Ankur says seriously. He's so passionate about India that he cannot acknowledge a champion if that champion doesn't play for India. His logic is completely flawed and inconsistent. According to him, Ponting isn't a champion because the likes of Gilchrist, Hayden, Langer and Martyn made him look good and he never had to face Warne and McGrath, and yet Gupta.Ankur doesn't apply the same logic to Tendulkar who has had the likes of Sehwag, Dravid, Laxman, and Ganguly around him, and he never had to face Kumble and Harbajhan. So, like I said, you cannot take anything Gupta.Ankur says seriously. When he tells us India were the better team in Melbourne, well you just know his passion for India is leading his thought process astray.

Posted by Biophysicist on (January 2, 2012, 12:08 GMT)

If Zimbabwe and Bangladesh are such weakling attacks, I wonder why Ponting could not score more centuries than the 2 that he has in 7 tests? He should have broken Lara's record of 400 for indivudual highest, shouldn't he, given the high praise you are giving him, Christian?

Posted by   on (January 2, 2012, 12:06 GMT)

Good Article Christian.

The remarks about sachin scoring runs against teams like Kenya, Zimbabwe etc was rubbish. Good luck all expect something better going forward.

Posted by   on (January 2, 2012, 11:38 GMT)

@cricfan9909, I'm not quite sure what you mean...Bradman scored 5028 runs against England at an average of 89.78. So yes, Bradman is still the greatest batsmen beyond comparison; and it's not as if you can choose your opposition. You play whoever you can at the time, and whether or not your opposition is strong is completely out of your control. An irrational obsession? No. An incredibly strong general consensus? I would certainly think so.

Posted by 68704 on (January 2, 2012, 11:09 GMT)

I think this is a different Ponting. He is older, wiser and perhaps not so petualant as before! You spoke about these two innings at melbourne. What about the innings he played at Johannesburgh not so long ago? Or the ones he played at Srilanka where Australia beat a fancied srilanka at home? And does anyone reme mber his century at the world cup quarterfinal at Ahmedabad against the winners? A team has eleven players and can someone compare records please of the other batsmen in the team? And what about his slip catching? I dont see him rushing up to umpires any longer merely talking quietly to Clarke. He is still the best Australian batsman on view irrespective of what the crowd says. And when has the crowd been sensible? It reminds me of a mob more often than not. India respects Ponting and he will deliver at Sydney , Adelaide and Perth. If australia wants to beat India they need Ponting"s presence, catching and aua. Get real Australia sridhar

Posted by Gizza on (January 2, 2012, 11:03 GMT)

Interesting point you bring up @cricfan9909. Without playing against the minnows of his day, Bradman would have only averaged 89.78 in his Test career which is about 10 runs less than his actual career average. The legendary 4 runs needed on his last innings to average 100 would not have been! To be honest, a lot of the magical stats and numbers in cricket rely on the minnows to push them up a bit (or down a bit for bowlers' averages). Also, there was a period in the early 2000's when Zimbabwe were arguably stronger than the West Indies so the notion of a "minnow" and therefore what to exclude in stats analysis is always hazy.

Posted by cricfan9909 on (January 2, 2012, 9:39 GMT)

Yup, people should also strike out all the runs made by Bradman against India, South Africa and West Indies - all weakling attacks who many rational-minded cricket people would have happily crossed out. That would mean he has scored all his runs against England. Does that make the Aussie obsession with him being the greatest batsman mildly irrational, or, at best, notional? Two can play that game mate.

Posted by cricfan9909 on (January 2, 2012, 9:38 GMT)

Yup, people should also strike out all the runs made by Bradman against India, South Africa and West Indies - all weakling attacks who many rational-minded cricket people would have happily crossed out. That would mean he has scored all his runs against England. Does that make the Aussie obsession with him being the greatest batsman mildly irrational, or, at best, notional? Two can play that game mate.

Posted by sachindoesnotrule on (January 2, 2012, 9:21 GMT)

Beautiful, absolutely beautiful article. The ending was superb. One of the best to come out from Christian Ryan. Whatever Ricky Ponting does from now on is of no concern to me. He has been the player of the last decade and that is what I would personally remember about him.

Posted by   on (January 2, 2012, 8:55 GMT)

Ryan, you got it just right. Ponting is the Legend and the savior, you understand it well. Now tell all those non believers.

Posted by   on (January 2, 2012, 8:42 GMT)

I think Punter has had to carry much too weight on his shoulders the last 2 yrs when all there was a mass exodus of Aussie greats, together with an on off opening pair who wouldnt last 15-20 runs. I can see him lightening up a lot. I know it is a lot to ask for , but i wish his best is ahead of him.

Posted by Flat_Pitch_Bully on (January 2, 2012, 8:26 GMT)

So typical Aussie, a completely pointless piece of drivel. And you had to get at Sachin somewhere in there didn't you? And you say Indians are obsessed with Sachin? Tell me Christian, what did you ever do in cricket? How many runs did you score, how many wickets did you take? While wielding a pen to a great sportsman, do you not feel embarrased - your obivous superiority in manner comes through in your article - You're writing about Ricky (look how i ignored those remarks on Sachin ) so hold that pen for a minute longer and think if you're worthy!

Posted by longlivewoodoo on (January 2, 2012, 8:04 GMT)

2010 have been a year of sachin , laxman & kallis. 2011 have been for dravid and hussey ( except last few matches ). 2012 can be a year of ponting.

Posted by datewithdestiny on (January 2, 2012, 7:38 GMT)

Very futuristic article by Christian dated Jan 28th 2012... Lol...

Posted by featurewriter on (January 2, 2012, 6:32 GMT)

Nice piece, Christian. What I find just as interesting is that a 60-odd from Ed Cowan, who batted extremely well and with remarkable poise, is heralded as the coming of a great new Test talent. But a 60-odd in each inning of a Test by Ponting is criticised by media, pundits and former players as marginal at best and barely enoug to keep the man in the squad for the series. I don't believe that any player deserves his spot in the Test team because of his past form. That said, a bag of 50s in recent Tests, coupled with a long history of wealthy boons and the occasional bust period, should be sufficient to keep a player of Ponting's talent in the team. If Ponting was a share market-listed company, he'd be an Apple or a Starbucks. Something with a healthy dividend that delivers sustained performance with a few misses but many, many great returns. I'd invest in Punter every time. Modest returns from Ponting are better than investing in unknown - or more volatile - commodities.

Posted by RandyOZ on (January 2, 2012, 5:25 GMT)

The second greatest batsman of all time behind the Don, Ponting was always going to come good again. While it is debateable whether both him and Hussey will be there during the next Ashes (Hussey may be, I doubt Ponting will) the heat has rightfully shifted entirely to Haddin, one of the worst gloveman I have ever seen, and he isn't exactly keeping to Warne either.

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Christian RyanClose
Christian Ryan Christian Ryan lives in Melbourne, writes and edits, was once the editor of The Monthly magazine and Wisden Australia, and now bowls low-grade, high-bouncing legbreaks with renewed zeal in recognition of Stuart MacGill's retirement and the selection opportunities this presents. He is the author of Golden Boy: Kim Hughes and the Bad Old Days of Australian Cricket and Australia: Story of a Cricket Country

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