June 21, 2013

An irrevocable loss to Australian cricket

Ricky Ponting's retirement deprives Australian cricket of an invaluable, intangible resource: 21 years of experience at state level
27

Forget all the waffle about an Ashes comeback, for Ricky Ponting was done with international cricket the moment he cut Robin Peterson to slip in last summer's Perth Test. No, the announcement of his full retirement this week has not robbed Australia of an Ashes saviour. It has, however, deprived Australian cricket of an invaluable, intangible resource: 21 years of experience at state level. One of the final links to a golden age of domestic batting is gone.

Of course, more than any other modern Australian cricketer, Ponting has earned the right to some family time, having been on the road more or less permanently since he was 17. Nobody can begrudge him the desire to spend his days at home with his wife and two young daughters. And having finished last summer with a Sheffield Shield title, the first piece of domestic team silverware he has ever won, Ponting has ended his state career on a high.

But boy will he be missed by a domestic cricket scene crying out for exemplars. Michael Hussey is undecided on his Western Australia future but if he goes too, it will truly be the end of an era: only Chris Rogers, Brad Haddin, Marcus North and Michael Clarke will remain active of players who began their state careers in the 1990s.

Last November, Hussey spoke of his alarm at the state of modern Sheffield Shield pitches. The green seamers, he argued, meant that young batsmen did not learn how to build a long innings, and that an 800-run season nowadays was equivalent to a 1000-run summer in the mid-1990s. That may be true. But even so, the only batsman to hit 800 Shield runs in 2012-13 was Ponting, a 38-year-old who in the first half of the summer was made to look second-rate by the South African attack.

Where were the young batsmen piling up the runs as Ponting and Hussey had in their youth? Had they been ruined by Twenty20 and the tempo associated with it? Had they been softened by youth pathways that told them they were better than they really were? Where was the tenacity that possessed men like Stuart Law, Matthew Hayden, Darren Lehmann, Jamie Siddons, Brad Hodge and Martin Love? And importantly, who will they learn it from if not the likes of Ponting and Hussey?

Notably, the best-performed of what might be called the next generation of batsmen last season was Alex Doolan. Notably, that is, because he spent much of his summer batting with Ponting. Doolan is 27, not young by cricketing standards, but those close to the Tasmania team have said it took until this season for Doolan to truly believe in his own ability. Keeping pace with Ponting in a few big partnerships certainly helped in that regard.

Ponting's insatiable appetite for runs, and the high price he placed on his wicket, were on display when he made an unbeaten 200 against New South Wales at Bellerive Oval in February. It was the highest score of the Shield season. One of his opponents in that match was Nic Maddinson, a 21-year-old batsman of immense talent who was yet to really cash in. Having seen the way Ponting compiled his innings, Maddinson went out and accumulated a career-best 154 in nearly five and a half hours.

Of course, it's not as if Ponting's presence magically made other batsmen better. Tasmania captain George Bailey admitted he became complacent coming in after the strong platforms laid by Ponting, Doolan and Mark Cosgrove last summer. But Ponting did provide a prototype, an example for young batsmen to follow, both in his impeccable preparation and his match savvy.

In Ponting's first Shield summer, Geoff Marsh made five tons, Siddons and Damien Martyn scored four, Michael Slater, Dene Hills, Paul Nobes and Ponting himself each made three. In Ponting's 21st Shield campaign, he and fellow veteran Rogers topped the century tally with three each. The pitches might be more challenging than they were in the 1990s, but runs are still there for batsmen with talent and tenacity. How many of those remain, though?

There are some promising younger batsmen coming through - Doolan, Maddinson, Joe Burns, Jordan Silk, to name a few. If Hussey follows Ponting into retirement, it will be up to them to start piling up the runs, and they'll have to learn from other thirty-somethings like Rogers and Haddin while they still can. Whatever happens, one thing is certain: there will be no more learning from Ponting. Australian cricket will be poorer for it.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • couchpundit on June 25, 2013, 15:10 GMT

    @popcorn--- Ponting is no Director material .....he is not an honest cricketer in his playing days...you might argue not..but facts or facts.....if you want somone from golden age...it has to be Mark Taylor,Steve Waugh or Mattehw Hayden and ofcourse gilly and mike hussey...rest of the lot are gifted players and does not know about hardwork to have come up from groundup. One always need to put men who worked had with little/no talent to make it big in International arena in key posts rather than immensely talented cricketers who can not understnad the tough times one goes through formative years.

  • popcorn on June 24, 2013, 4:10 GMT

    NOT A SINGLE ONE of the current cricketers has the work ethic that Ricky Ponting had, barring Michel Clarke.NOT A SINGLE CRICKETER PUT A PRICE ON HIS WICKET LIKE RICKY PONTING DID.I wish he becomes the Director of the centre of Excellence at Brisbane.I wish he becomes the Director of Club Cricket to teach the youngsters at grassroots level.I wish gets on the circuit for talk shows to show the fierce pride he had playing for Australia, and what the Baggy Green Cap should mean to a cricketer who is awarded.

  • popcorn on June 24, 2013, 4:00 GMT

    NOT A SINGLE ONE of the current cricketers has the work ethic that Ricky Ponting had, barring Michel Clarke.NOT A SINGLE CRICKETER PUT A PRICE ON HIS WICKET LIKE RICKY PONTING DID.I wish he becomes the Director of the centre of Excellence at Brisbane.I wish he becomes the Director of Club Cricket to teach the youngsters at grassroots level.I wish gets on the circuit for talk shows to show the fierce pride he had playing for Australia, and what the Baggy Green Cap should mean to a cricketer who is awarded.

  • Zubeir09 on June 23, 2013, 20:16 GMT

    I will miss You Punter. Definitely he has every right to spend some time with his family. But Aus. team is also his family and need him evenly as Rianna and their daughhters do. I hope Ricky will be soon into the management of Aus cricket team. He should be made Cheif selector as soon as John steps down.

  • Lara213 on June 23, 2013, 10:56 GMT

    Thanks for your reply. I would argue since the 2010/11 Australia's fall has almost been a freefall arguably worse than the Windies. Apart from the disastrous '98 tour to SA, the Windies remained a potent force until 2000, pushing Australia harder than anyone in 96/97 and might even have won back the Frank Worrel from Aus in 98/99 drawing narrowly 2-2 in a series that those with a less anglocentric view believe to be one of the greatest of all time, even better than the 2005 Ashes. Their steep decline really began after 2000 with the retirement of Ambrose/Walsh.

  • on June 23, 2013, 8:29 GMT

    ricky was the last one amongst the greatest cricketers in australia so far who retired and its indeed an irrcoverable loss to the aussie cricket...and it has been quite evident from the recent australian perfromance in iccct .

  • on June 23, 2013, 5:33 GMT

    really, punter definitely cricket will miss you. definitely u r the best captain of any era. i miss u alongwith sachin in one day cricket

  • ScottyMuller on June 22, 2013, 23:43 GMT

    Lara213's comments are interesting and which I partially agree with. Ponting is the best australian batsman I have been lucky enough to watch. We are looking at his history through rose coloured glasses though ... he was an ordinary, unimaginative captain. Who could forget him putting over rates ahead of pushing for an unlikely win in India in 2008? Aust should-could have won the ashes in 2005-09 ... but couldn't close the deal, we also should have beat India in India in 2010 but lost by 1 wicket. I think the Aust and WI experiences are different however. Ponting was a major part of the Aussie domination whereas Lara was only there for the last hurrah in the early 90s. Lara only (badly) captained them intermittently. Lastly, most importantly, australian cricket has not crash dived as lara213 put it. The WI were the worst test team in world cricket within 4 years of the Aussies knocking off their crown ... Australia are not there ... yet. ome decent batsman would be nice

  • Gavin1957 on June 22, 2013, 23:15 GMT

    Hi Brydon

    Loved your article! Michael Klinger (currently captain against Australia A in their tour match) debuted for Victoria in 1998 and is still playing for South Australia, so you can add him to your small list of active state players from the 1990s.

    Gav

  • on June 22, 2013, 20:20 GMT

    Top players are an asset for any side so long they last and useful. But over stayed their welcome, they prevent new talent to flurish. This happening in number of cases for personal interest. Said that,This batter was one amonst the all times. If to add, he never got his footwork in place for hook/pull shot. Discovered this weakness at latter stage when reflexes are gone weak,it is a basket case for many - and it happend with him.

  • couchpundit on June 25, 2013, 15:10 GMT

    @popcorn--- Ponting is no Director material .....he is not an honest cricketer in his playing days...you might argue not..but facts or facts.....if you want somone from golden age...it has to be Mark Taylor,Steve Waugh or Mattehw Hayden and ofcourse gilly and mike hussey...rest of the lot are gifted players and does not know about hardwork to have come up from groundup. One always need to put men who worked had with little/no talent to make it big in International arena in key posts rather than immensely talented cricketers who can not understnad the tough times one goes through formative years.

  • popcorn on June 24, 2013, 4:10 GMT

    NOT A SINGLE ONE of the current cricketers has the work ethic that Ricky Ponting had, barring Michel Clarke.NOT A SINGLE CRICKETER PUT A PRICE ON HIS WICKET LIKE RICKY PONTING DID.I wish he becomes the Director of the centre of Excellence at Brisbane.I wish he becomes the Director of Club Cricket to teach the youngsters at grassroots level.I wish gets on the circuit for talk shows to show the fierce pride he had playing for Australia, and what the Baggy Green Cap should mean to a cricketer who is awarded.

  • popcorn on June 24, 2013, 4:00 GMT

    NOT A SINGLE ONE of the current cricketers has the work ethic that Ricky Ponting had, barring Michel Clarke.NOT A SINGLE CRICKETER PUT A PRICE ON HIS WICKET LIKE RICKY PONTING DID.I wish he becomes the Director of the centre of Excellence at Brisbane.I wish he becomes the Director of Club Cricket to teach the youngsters at grassroots level.I wish gets on the circuit for talk shows to show the fierce pride he had playing for Australia, and what the Baggy Green Cap should mean to a cricketer who is awarded.

  • Zubeir09 on June 23, 2013, 20:16 GMT

    I will miss You Punter. Definitely he has every right to spend some time with his family. But Aus. team is also his family and need him evenly as Rianna and their daughhters do. I hope Ricky will be soon into the management of Aus cricket team. He should be made Cheif selector as soon as John steps down.

  • Lara213 on June 23, 2013, 10:56 GMT

    Thanks for your reply. I would argue since the 2010/11 Australia's fall has almost been a freefall arguably worse than the Windies. Apart from the disastrous '98 tour to SA, the Windies remained a potent force until 2000, pushing Australia harder than anyone in 96/97 and might even have won back the Frank Worrel from Aus in 98/99 drawing narrowly 2-2 in a series that those with a less anglocentric view believe to be one of the greatest of all time, even better than the 2005 Ashes. Their steep decline really began after 2000 with the retirement of Ambrose/Walsh.

  • on June 23, 2013, 8:29 GMT

    ricky was the last one amongst the greatest cricketers in australia so far who retired and its indeed an irrcoverable loss to the aussie cricket...and it has been quite evident from the recent australian perfromance in iccct .

  • on June 23, 2013, 5:33 GMT

    really, punter definitely cricket will miss you. definitely u r the best captain of any era. i miss u alongwith sachin in one day cricket

  • ScottyMuller on June 22, 2013, 23:43 GMT

    Lara213's comments are interesting and which I partially agree with. Ponting is the best australian batsman I have been lucky enough to watch. We are looking at his history through rose coloured glasses though ... he was an ordinary, unimaginative captain. Who could forget him putting over rates ahead of pushing for an unlikely win in India in 2008? Aust should-could have won the ashes in 2005-09 ... but couldn't close the deal, we also should have beat India in India in 2010 but lost by 1 wicket. I think the Aust and WI experiences are different however. Ponting was a major part of the Aussie domination whereas Lara was only there for the last hurrah in the early 90s. Lara only (badly) captained them intermittently. Lastly, most importantly, australian cricket has not crash dived as lara213 put it. The WI were the worst test team in world cricket within 4 years of the Aussies knocking off their crown ... Australia are not there ... yet. ome decent batsman would be nice

  • Gavin1957 on June 22, 2013, 23:15 GMT

    Hi Brydon

    Loved your article! Michael Klinger (currently captain against Australia A in their tour match) debuted for Victoria in 1998 and is still playing for South Australia, so you can add him to your small list of active state players from the 1990s.

    Gav

  • on June 22, 2013, 20:20 GMT

    Top players are an asset for any side so long they last and useful. But over stayed their welcome, they prevent new talent to flurish. This happening in number of cases for personal interest. Said that,This batter was one amonst the all times. If to add, he never got his footwork in place for hook/pull shot. Discovered this weakness at latter stage when reflexes are gone weak,it is a basket case for many - and it happend with him.

  • on June 22, 2013, 14:46 GMT

    I say ponting has a role to play. Powers that should get of rid all these men with mediocre records including current coach and get ponting into the management of the game . No one can doubt his credentials

  • on June 22, 2013, 12:50 GMT

    He could easily be the fielding and batting coach for Australia. Easily the best fielder I have seen. Instead of having a separate fielding and batting coach, they can just hire ricky who has been outstanding in both. Plus he can also deal with difficult characters, not only because of leadership, but also by sharing his personal experiences in life, as he started from a young man with drinking players and transformed into one of the most outstanding players the game has seen. He could be an inspiration as a coach. They should get rid of micky arthur, who really turned Australia into all talk no action/results side with no stability. Better of hiring ponting instead. Atleast no one will be dropped for not writing essays.

  • Surajdon9 on June 22, 2013, 11:32 GMT

    Punter you made us emotional.Really missing your aggression...I cant except anybody can replace you...Thank a lot great punter........

  • Lara213 on June 22, 2013, 11:11 GMT

    There's a curious parallel with Lara the Windies' greatest ever batting talent, but whose career dovetailed tragically with the crash dive of of Windies cricket as did Ponting's and Australia's. Both started when their teams were undisputed number ones but somehow they seemed incapable of halting or even slowing down the decline once it kicked in. Almost as if thier own enormous abilities blinded them from the growing frailties and weaknesses around them and a belief or hope it would go back to business as usual. Three Ashes losses is not a record for an Aus captain to be proud of and indicates a serious failing as captain especially as he inherited the all-conquering squad from his predecessor intact. Ponting must take some balme for not looking ahead to the next generation and making sure enough talent was coming through to carry on the torch.

  • raseen1986 on June 22, 2013, 10:14 GMT

    Now it's time for Cricket Australia to use the experience of Ricky Ponting to correct the batting techniques of Australia's younger and emerging players in order to succeed to highest level.....

  • on June 22, 2013, 7:09 GMT

    a s expected the news of pontings retirement from the Tasmanian state side also has arrived.ricky deserrves great appreciation for his contribution to cricket/his country/state teams and for that matter all type of cricketing activities.in addition to being no,2 batsman in test/odis idirectly/indirectly he has influenced many of his collegues/fellow cricketeers in the past many years.wishing all the best for his future plans.

  • vj_gooner on June 22, 2013, 6:59 GMT

    Punter, Cricket will miss you.

    Each and every time I think about your aggression I get goosebumps!

    Every time, I think about one of your pull shoots I feel like standing up and shouting like a crazy man!

    This can go on and on and on..

    Punter! :-(

  • george204 on June 22, 2013, 6:48 GMT

    Surprised he's retired now. Two more Sheffield Shield campaigns + two full English seasons on those flat Oval pitches would have made 100 first class hundred's well within reach. He'd have been a great addition to the "Hundred hundreds" club.

  • Dharm_Guru on June 22, 2013, 5:53 GMT

    Ricky Ponting truly is among of the greatest to have graced the game of Cricket. His mantra to success was his ability to stand up to any opposition in any situation! He could literally break the opposition's confidence with his aggressive batting and fielding. A testament to this is what he did to India in the 2003 WC finals in SA! His presence on the field will be greatly missed!

  • Un_Citoyen_Indien on June 22, 2013, 2:51 GMT

    Well, we could still see him coaching one of the IPL franchises you know.

  • IndianInnerEdge on June 22, 2013, 0:53 GMT

    Nice one Brydon...Punter's will to win,his training methods, his passion, enthusiasm,team spirit,was exemplary though would'nt say the same about some of his on field verbals....the real point i feel Brydon is making isthat hopefully the newer gen will learn&asprire to be there for the long haul, build an innings, tough it out, do the hard yards, instead of just seeking riches in the tequila hit type T20 leagues. At least my country is blessed to have a like-4-like replace for Rahul D in Pujara,& other youngsters like manish pandey, tiwary who could be good test players....am hoping punter stil remains associated with Tasmanian cricket association or does coachingas hisexperience would be invaluable to any youngsters. On another note,if the pitches are really green seamers,not necessarily a bad thing-u can develop good pacemen, good slip fielders&also breed good batsmen who by practicising on such wickets would be more ready for playing in the UK or NZ! anyways Adios Punter-u-legend!

  • HawK89 on June 21, 2013, 13:28 GMT

    Won't see test batsmen like Ricky anymore. Teams hardly make 450 runs then declaring. They usually bat on for 500+ runs, while the other team folds under the follow on minimum. So there is no rush to make as much runs as you can in the first day, which was how Ricky was brought up.

  • differentView on June 21, 2013, 12:00 GMT

    hm... which way will Austraian Cricket be going? After failing dramatically in the Champions Trophy and with a couple of poor series behind them, I think the Ashes will be the most crucial moment for them in decades. No matter if the´ll admit it or not, virtually every Australian thinks the same - if we manage to make this a tough, narrow contest, then we´ve got something to build upon. However, if we get run over by England - and there´s a real chance for that! - this prooves that we no longer belong to the top sides of world cricket. full stop. It is especially under those circumstances that the misconduct of certain players is all the more shameful. Yes, boys will be be boys and there will always be the odd individual having problem with team discipline, but under the light of the latest developments, the incidents reek of hopelesness and anarchy. The Ashes might not be as balanced as the were lately - but never had the Australians had to make a statement more desperately...

  • on June 21, 2013, 11:39 GMT

    To Ponting his mental toughness added twice the weight of his batting talents did - and that was a lethal combination only a few possess. I believe globally the 90's standard of batting will be hard to emulate - Ponting, Hussey, Dravid, Sachin, VVS, Lara, Kallis, Inzy, Yousuf - they all have either retired or soon will. Though young Joe Root, Pujara, Amla seem to have it in them carry the torch of classical test batsmanship...the last already proven...

  • ToneMalone on June 21, 2013, 10:41 GMT

    A good read Brydon. At least in Test batsmen, talent doesn't cut it unless it's accompanied by the temperament and hunger needed to stay at the crease and make big scores. Given Clarke's back problems and the ageing of other key batsmen, I fear we'll soon come to miss these qualities even more in Australia's Test and first-class state sides over the next couple of years.

  • on June 21, 2013, 10:30 GMT

    Great Article, wish he got this much respect last Summer when many were calling for his exculsion form the national team. It was an honor to have played with him during the start of his career at Mowbray, Legend.

  • on June 21, 2013, 10:06 GMT

    what happened to the U19 captain Bosisto ? Hardly hear any news about him. He was making runs in the World Cup last year ..?

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • on June 21, 2013, 10:06 GMT

    what happened to the U19 captain Bosisto ? Hardly hear any news about him. He was making runs in the World Cup last year ..?

  • on June 21, 2013, 10:30 GMT

    Great Article, wish he got this much respect last Summer when many were calling for his exculsion form the national team. It was an honor to have played with him during the start of his career at Mowbray, Legend.

  • ToneMalone on June 21, 2013, 10:41 GMT

    A good read Brydon. At least in Test batsmen, talent doesn't cut it unless it's accompanied by the temperament and hunger needed to stay at the crease and make big scores. Given Clarke's back problems and the ageing of other key batsmen, I fear we'll soon come to miss these qualities even more in Australia's Test and first-class state sides over the next couple of years.

  • on June 21, 2013, 11:39 GMT

    To Ponting his mental toughness added twice the weight of his batting talents did - and that was a lethal combination only a few possess. I believe globally the 90's standard of batting will be hard to emulate - Ponting, Hussey, Dravid, Sachin, VVS, Lara, Kallis, Inzy, Yousuf - they all have either retired or soon will. Though young Joe Root, Pujara, Amla seem to have it in them carry the torch of classical test batsmanship...the last already proven...

  • differentView on June 21, 2013, 12:00 GMT

    hm... which way will Austraian Cricket be going? After failing dramatically in the Champions Trophy and with a couple of poor series behind them, I think the Ashes will be the most crucial moment for them in decades. No matter if the´ll admit it or not, virtually every Australian thinks the same - if we manage to make this a tough, narrow contest, then we´ve got something to build upon. However, if we get run over by England - and there´s a real chance for that! - this prooves that we no longer belong to the top sides of world cricket. full stop. It is especially under those circumstances that the misconduct of certain players is all the more shameful. Yes, boys will be be boys and there will always be the odd individual having problem with team discipline, but under the light of the latest developments, the incidents reek of hopelesness and anarchy. The Ashes might not be as balanced as the were lately - but never had the Australians had to make a statement more desperately...

  • HawK89 on June 21, 2013, 13:28 GMT

    Won't see test batsmen like Ricky anymore. Teams hardly make 450 runs then declaring. They usually bat on for 500+ runs, while the other team folds under the follow on minimum. So there is no rush to make as much runs as you can in the first day, which was how Ricky was brought up.

  • IndianInnerEdge on June 22, 2013, 0:53 GMT

    Nice one Brydon...Punter's will to win,his training methods, his passion, enthusiasm,team spirit,was exemplary though would'nt say the same about some of his on field verbals....the real point i feel Brydon is making isthat hopefully the newer gen will learn&asprire to be there for the long haul, build an innings, tough it out, do the hard yards, instead of just seeking riches in the tequila hit type T20 leagues. At least my country is blessed to have a like-4-like replace for Rahul D in Pujara,& other youngsters like manish pandey, tiwary who could be good test players....am hoping punter stil remains associated with Tasmanian cricket association or does coachingas hisexperience would be invaluable to any youngsters. On another note,if the pitches are really green seamers,not necessarily a bad thing-u can develop good pacemen, good slip fielders&also breed good batsmen who by practicising on such wickets would be more ready for playing in the UK or NZ! anyways Adios Punter-u-legend!

  • Un_Citoyen_Indien on June 22, 2013, 2:51 GMT

    Well, we could still see him coaching one of the IPL franchises you know.

  • Dharm_Guru on June 22, 2013, 5:53 GMT

    Ricky Ponting truly is among of the greatest to have graced the game of Cricket. His mantra to success was his ability to stand up to any opposition in any situation! He could literally break the opposition's confidence with his aggressive batting and fielding. A testament to this is what he did to India in the 2003 WC finals in SA! His presence on the field will be greatly missed!

  • george204 on June 22, 2013, 6:48 GMT

    Surprised he's retired now. Two more Sheffield Shield campaigns + two full English seasons on those flat Oval pitches would have made 100 first class hundred's well within reach. He'd have been a great addition to the "Hundred hundreds" club.