South Africa v Australia, 2nd Test, Johannesburg, 4th day November 20, 2011

Can Ponting write his own Waugh story?

Ricky Ponting was under immense pressure on the fourth day in Johannesburg. His response was a sight to behold
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Steve Waugh used his 156th Test to buy himself another year of cricket with an Ashes century that still lives on in the minds of Australian fans. Allan Border bowed out of the game in his 156th match in the baggy green, in South Africa. Is Ricky Ponting to follow Waugh or Border? With one day remaining of his 156th Test, he was poised halfway between the two fates.

As Ponting walked off the Wanderers on the fourth afternoon, the light was dimming on the ground, reminiscent of when Waugh crunched Richard Dawson through extra cover for four to reach a career-saving hundred. Back in Australia, where it was 2am in the eastern states, fans could see a glimmer of hope. Before this day, it seemed unlikely they would see Ponting's faded cap, the rolled-up sleeves and steely stare again in a Test match at home.

He finished unbeaten on 54, his first Test half-century since the opening match of last year's Ashes. Should he go on to score a match-winning hundred, it would be a monumental effort, considering he has not reached triple-figures in a Test in nearly two years, and that no team has chased such a big total - 310 - to win a Wanderers Test. By stumps, Australia were 168 from their goal.

If he gets Australia home and then chooses to retire, it could hardly be more of a fairytale ending. But Ponting is unlikely to feel disposed to walk away from the game if he thinks he has more to offer. And while the selectors would like to blood young batsmen during the series against New Zealand, which starts at the Gabba on December 1, the matter is now clouded due to the injuries to Shane Watson and Shaun Marsh.

Marsh is at home with a back injury and is considered by his state coach Mickey Arthur "a long shot" to play in Western Australia's Sheffield Shield match against New South Wales this week. And Watson, who strained his hamstring during this Test, has conceded that he is no certainty to be fit for the Brisbane Test.

Should they both miss selection, Usman Khawaja would hold his place and David Warner would have a strong chance of making his debut. The selectors may decide that including another new batsman might be tipping the balance too far in the regeneration direction. That, combined with Ponting's classy half-century in Johannesburg, could be his career lifeline.

When he walked to the crease, the pressure could hardly have been greater. Ponting's last two Test innings read 0, 0. Another zero and he'd have produced the Australian emergency phone number. And John Inverarity's finger would be poised on the dial.

The score was 19 for 2. Ponting jogged out to intense boos from the South African fans, played a few practice drives and made his way to the pitch. He patted down the surface, stretched his hamstrings and took his time getting ready. There was nothing out of the ordinary, nothing to indicate he felt any more burden than normal.

After a quick chat with Khawaja, his partner and one of his prospective long-term replacements, he took guard, counted the fielders, and took strike. Vernon Philander ran in. Ponting was ready. Would this be the first ball of the rest of his life? No. He left it alone, extravagantly and expertly, and Australian fans breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Ponting was off the mark from his tenth ball, a push through cover off Dale Steyn. Some classic Ponting strokes followed, a muscular pull for four off Morne Morkel, a back-foot drive to the boundary against Steyn. A straight-driven four, back past the stumps off Steyn, was especially encouraging.

There were challenges. Morkel whizzed one past the edge of the bat, a pearl that bounced and seamed away. Ponting responded next ball with a judicious leave. When he brought up his half-century, he raised the bat. It was understated. He knew that for all his wonderful innings over the years, he had been given leniency lately. Making runs is his job.

Meanwhile, the man at the other end showed Australia's top order will be in good hands whenever Ponting leaves. Khawaja walked to the crease in the first over of the innings, after Watson shouldered arms and lost his off stump. The momentum was all with South Africa. Khawaja responded with two majestic drives for four, through cover and mid-on, from his first three deliveries.

In his first three Tests, Khawaja had made starts and shown promise. This innings was a step in the right direction. He helped ease the pressure on Ponting with his own fine strokeplay, and moved to his first Test half-century from his 95th delivery. Khawaja fell late in the afternoon for 65, failing to pick Imran Tahir's googly, but his was a classy, confidence-boosting innings.

Khawaja's fourth Test has been encouraging. Now all that remains to be seen is how Ponting's 156th will be remembered.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on November 21, 2011, 13:11 GMT

    I don't know that too may Australians with any knowledge of the game would select Ponting as the best after Bradman. There have been players such as Trumper, Ponsford, Harvey and even Hayden. He has gone- he may survive a few more tests but his career is as good as over.

  • on November 21, 2011, 12:38 GMT

    Pontin is the last of the Waugh era team. Whilst he's been a terrifc run machine for a No 3 batsmen. I've always regarded him as a bit of a flat track bully where he excels on pitches which are true and hard that play to his attacking strengths. He has a woeful record against India showing his vulnerability against spin.

    He benefitted from being a in a powerful team it has to be said. Geoff Boycott thought Greg Chappell was a better batsman than Ponting and you have to agree given Chappell averaged over 50 and had to contend with the West Indies quartet for many years.

    The problem Australia have is traditionally when a captain stands down they expect them to retire from test cricket. Given Aussies cricket current state they can't enforce it. However Ponting needs to make up his mind before they force it upon him

  • VinodGupte on November 21, 2011, 12:09 GMT

    Out for 62. Out of the team? We'll see.

  • Flat_Pitch_Bully on November 21, 2011, 12:02 GMT

    There - nothing of that sort happened - the guy with more use for his tongue than bat walks out miserably as Aussies, yes the oh we're so mighty...go on the defensive!! Serves the man absolutely right, he deserves nothng but ignomity!

  • dms1972 on November 21, 2011, 9:11 GMT

    @ Sreekantapuram Srinivas Rao, Ricky Ponting is clearly Australia best batsman after Bradman, yes. AND he's better than you're obviously giving him credit for. Tendulkar is the best batsman I have seen in the 30 years I've been watching Test cricket, just in front of Ponting and Lara. Only after that trio, does it becomes debatable.

  • on November 21, 2011, 9:05 GMT

    He has talent and he is determined, that much is certain, but he is an arrogant little man and he needs to be brought down to size. I personally cannot think of anyone better to perform this task than the Protea bowlers, It doesn't matter much to me which one or if it will be a little bit of all four.

  • on November 21, 2011, 8:43 GMT

    Stop judging about punter's career plssss, we r nt worth to do so, scoring fifty in such a hugeeeee pressureeee is pricelessss, and superb fielding abilities at his age is superb. Love uuuuuuuuuuuu Punter alwayssssssssssssss.........!

  • on November 21, 2011, 8:10 GMT

    legend were born to do sumtning special n no he iz one of them,,,,he can eazily serve two more yrs for australia luv to watch him facing zak in boxing day test,,,,,,cumon punter u can do mak it ur memorable match winning hundred best of luck......................

  • on November 21, 2011, 8:07 GMT

    Ponting is great and classy and deserves a farewell on his terms. Dropping him and even thinking about it is a heinous crime. But so say that he is the best batsman after Bradman is preposterous. Yes for Aussies, he is the best after Bradman. What about Lara Sachin Viv Sehwag Dravid Sanga mahela Kallis Gavaskar Miandad etc Some of them are far superior to Ponting and he doesnot deserve a comparision. When the Aussies say that he is the next best batsman, why questions are raised about his position. You cannot treat a great player shabbily.

  • Srini_Indian on November 21, 2011, 7:56 GMT

    I have a feeling that Australia would get bowled out before lunch losing by 110 runs or so.

  • on November 21, 2011, 13:11 GMT

    I don't know that too may Australians with any knowledge of the game would select Ponting as the best after Bradman. There have been players such as Trumper, Ponsford, Harvey and even Hayden. He has gone- he may survive a few more tests but his career is as good as over.

  • on November 21, 2011, 12:38 GMT

    Pontin is the last of the Waugh era team. Whilst he's been a terrifc run machine for a No 3 batsmen. I've always regarded him as a bit of a flat track bully where he excels on pitches which are true and hard that play to his attacking strengths. He has a woeful record against India showing his vulnerability against spin.

    He benefitted from being a in a powerful team it has to be said. Geoff Boycott thought Greg Chappell was a better batsman than Ponting and you have to agree given Chappell averaged over 50 and had to contend with the West Indies quartet for many years.

    The problem Australia have is traditionally when a captain stands down they expect them to retire from test cricket. Given Aussies cricket current state they can't enforce it. However Ponting needs to make up his mind before they force it upon him

  • VinodGupte on November 21, 2011, 12:09 GMT

    Out for 62. Out of the team? We'll see.

  • Flat_Pitch_Bully on November 21, 2011, 12:02 GMT

    There - nothing of that sort happened - the guy with more use for his tongue than bat walks out miserably as Aussies, yes the oh we're so mighty...go on the defensive!! Serves the man absolutely right, he deserves nothng but ignomity!

  • dms1972 on November 21, 2011, 9:11 GMT

    @ Sreekantapuram Srinivas Rao, Ricky Ponting is clearly Australia best batsman after Bradman, yes. AND he's better than you're obviously giving him credit for. Tendulkar is the best batsman I have seen in the 30 years I've been watching Test cricket, just in front of Ponting and Lara. Only after that trio, does it becomes debatable.

  • on November 21, 2011, 9:05 GMT

    He has talent and he is determined, that much is certain, but he is an arrogant little man and he needs to be brought down to size. I personally cannot think of anyone better to perform this task than the Protea bowlers, It doesn't matter much to me which one or if it will be a little bit of all four.

  • on November 21, 2011, 8:43 GMT

    Stop judging about punter's career plssss, we r nt worth to do so, scoring fifty in such a hugeeeee pressureeee is pricelessss, and superb fielding abilities at his age is superb. Love uuuuuuuuuuuu Punter alwayssssssssssssss.........!

  • on November 21, 2011, 8:10 GMT

    legend were born to do sumtning special n no he iz one of them,,,,he can eazily serve two more yrs for australia luv to watch him facing zak in boxing day test,,,,,,cumon punter u can do mak it ur memorable match winning hundred best of luck......................

  • on November 21, 2011, 8:07 GMT

    Ponting is great and classy and deserves a farewell on his terms. Dropping him and even thinking about it is a heinous crime. But so say that he is the best batsman after Bradman is preposterous. Yes for Aussies, he is the best after Bradman. What about Lara Sachin Viv Sehwag Dravid Sanga mahela Kallis Gavaskar Miandad etc Some of them are far superior to Ponting and he doesnot deserve a comparision. When the Aussies say that he is the next best batsman, why questions are raised about his position. You cannot treat a great player shabbily.

  • Srini_Indian on November 21, 2011, 7:56 GMT

    I have a feeling that Australia would get bowled out before lunch losing by 110 runs or so.

  • on November 21, 2011, 7:54 GMT

    This inning by Punter is another example of the time tested adge "form is temporary but class is permanent". Being an Indian fan, I'm no lover of Ricky Ponting, but being a fan of the game of Cricket I have to admit that Lara, Sachin and Ponting were the three best batsmaen of the twilight generation( No disrespect to Dravid and Kalis).

  • on November 21, 2011, 7:52 GMT

    Much like his ODI century against India ( WC'2011 QF) - there is a rare charm in seeing a once majestic player, used to dominating and bullying opposition to submission - going back to his DNA, basic technique - running hard between the wickets, waiting for the bad ball instead of turning the good one into bad ones and graft out a "back-to-the-walls" masterpiece. Greats find the reserves of steel and skill which no amount of talent or experience can teach. Others who are very good - like Damien Martyn, Michael Vaughan or Marvan Atapattu merely walk away, unable to find that extra gear to fight their body and mind. He might not inspire universal love or adulation but he deserves no less than admiration. Anything less than that would be disrespecting his immense contribution to cricket!

  • Srini_Indian on November 21, 2011, 7:51 GMT

    @Popcorn: Ponting is also the only Australian captain to lose 3 Ashes in his captaincy, he also has 0 test wins in India. Captained Australia for 7 tests in India losing 5 of them. He is the 5th best batsman of all time behind Sachin, Dravid, Lara, Kallis. Ya, he deserves to retire in Australia in front of his home crowd.

  • azzaman333 on November 21, 2011, 7:49 GMT

    @hitacrosstheline; you mention Hayden being forced into a "premature retirement". Hayden was a classic example of someone who stayed longer than they should've based solely on reputation. He averaged just 28 in his last year at test level. Ponting's 54* is already his best score in the past 12 months, you can't afford that from a specialist batsman, no matter how good their record is.

  • Aussasinator on November 21, 2011, 7:48 GMT

    If he scores a hundred for Australia to win this test, it will be his first ever century in a run chase.

  • on November 21, 2011, 7:38 GMT

    I have nothing else to say then that I am a big fan of Ponting and i am feeling the same pressure as he must be going through.Praying for him and want him to be there untill Australia wins.The winning run should come from him!!

  • gr8cricketfan on November 21, 2011, 7:31 GMT

    Great Mr punter you are a gr8 batsmen but he should save his career by winning this match....now i like to ask all Australian fan's what would Mr Chappel say now?i think he will change the decision again by telling Ponting shoul'd continue and help Australian cricket.

  • on November 21, 2011, 7:11 GMT

    he is a legend!!!i wish that he scores a 100..

  • SanjivSanjiv on November 21, 2011, 7:02 GMT

    YES, HE CAN. He is truely a figher. Can he break Tendulkar record? Noooo.

  • MrGarreth on November 21, 2011, 6:45 GMT

    I think people are getting too sensitive about the boos of the SA crowd for Ponting. Having been part of that Joburg crowd many a time, I can tell you that it is light-hearted and that only the best players around get boos like that. Shane Warne got the same sort of reception but SA actually love him. It is, in a way, a sign of respect. And if you saw Ponting walk off and the reception he recieved for a gritty half-century you would have realised how much the SA crowd respect him.

  • stormy16 on November 21, 2011, 6:43 GMT

    I was at the WACA when this guy played his first test and couldnt help thinking yesterady when he walked in - it could be his last! Even if doesnt score another run I think he showed yesterday just what a class act he is and surely the selectors will leave the decision to him going forward. He was at his best yesterday, the pull is back to its old self and looked like the Punter of old.

  • on November 21, 2011, 6:39 GMT

    Ricky Ponting is a very different barsman. Classy, dynamic and loves to face challenges. He's a big match player, ready to take responsibility. Watching him batting is always a joy, especially, the pulls and off drives. Even his leaving the balls is very unique. The steely wrists and the deadly stares at the picth or to the bowlers are frightening to even the best of the bowlers. He's my the mosr favourite barsman and I would love him to score a century today to not just to give Australia a victory but, also to extend his own career so that we can enjoy this agressive and world class punter for a few more years.

  • Marcio on November 21, 2011, 6:38 GMT

    The century (116) Ponting gets today will go down as one of his best ever, as I predicted two days ago.

  • on November 21, 2011, 6:31 GMT

    @RandyOZ, you mean gretest OZ batsman since Bradman, as every cricket follower knows that Sachin is the greatest batsman, even Bradman agreed to it.

  • on November 21, 2011, 6:24 GMT

    he is a legend...and he should definitely be a part of the team to guide the youngsters

  • Stevo_ on November 21, 2011, 5:59 GMT

    @Naren - how were they marginalo decisions ? Not out is not out

  • on November 21, 2011, 5:55 GMT

    I hope ... Punter will realize the pain of being on loosing side after making century.. just like Sachin and Lara felt it... now this legend may get that pain... Its team, not the individual who come up as winner... the difference is very much clear... Ponting in 2003 and Ponting in 2011..its a team difference... thats all..

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on November 21, 2011, 5:31 GMT

    Though I'm an Indian, I feel so sad about the thought of Ponting's retirement. If he retires, can we ever get to see such a wonderful player again? The thought that we won't see him again is so depressing. It would be a treat to watch Ponting, Hussey, Dravid, VVS and Sachin at one time - competing with and against each other. Also, he thoroughly deserves a grand farewell in Australia or after playing Ashes. Why can't we follow some such simple traditions, while dealing with such a Legend, is beyond me! I sincerely hope the Aussie selectors show some gratitude, respect and common sense towards Ponting. Ponting deserves to go out on his own accord. It would be a tribute to the great man to let him retire in Australia or after Ashes. Cricket will be that much poorer without him. Please, at least, don't treat this Legend as badly as Steve Waugh was treated. Don't commit a similar mistake twice.

  • on November 21, 2011, 5:18 GMT

    I want to be a journalist one day. The past few weeks I've got sick of people saying Ponting should retire. The man is a class act, the best batsman of our generation and one of the greatest ever. I've only just graduated but I wish I had the opportunity to be writing articles about why Ponting SHOULDN'T retire. I believe he has plenty more runs in the tank. I'm a Kiwi and it's tough to say an Australian's amazing. With Ponting, it isn't even difficult - he is that good. He will surely pile on the runs against NZ in the coming test series too.

    People need to leave him alone. They bring up his weakness to LBW as if it's a sudden thing. LBW has always been his problem early in his innings. I hope he continues through another Ashes at least.

  • gordyfargus on November 21, 2011, 5:17 GMT

    I believe Ponting should stay for two reasons. The first being that when he finishes I believe he will leave the game all together. From what I can gather Ponting is quite astute at being a batting coach, so whilst the Hughes's, Khawaja's, Warner's and Marshs's are in the squad Ponting has a great deal he can teach them. The second is that Ponting is really the only one apart from maybe Hussey that can have a match saving/winning innings when batting last in a test (he has done it many times but one that sticks in my mind is the Ashes test in England where he batted all day bar the last few overs to save the test). He has been unlucky not to make a couple of hundreds in the last couple of years being run out a couple of times when being in his 70s.

  • on November 21, 2011, 5:16 GMT

    @here2rock, Ponting is no doubt a great cricketer but his conduct on and off the field merits nothing but boos. True champions carry themselves humbly & win the respect AND admiration of the opposition team & supporters - ex. S. Waugh, Gilchrist, Warne, Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman, Wasim Akram, Kallis, Amla, Lara, Chanderpaul, & so on. Ponting's arrogance & utter disregard for the social niceties of the "gentlemen's game" makes him fully deserving of the boos. I can proudly say I've been part of a near capacity crowd at Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore that booed this man & I'd do it again without hesitation. His conduct post 2008 SCG Test alone makes him deserving of a lifetime of boos. Way to go, Wanderers crowd!

  • OutCast on November 21, 2011, 5:06 GMT

    Champions deliver when it does matter the most, not the most 100's... whether you call it a 2001 Luxman or 2009 Duminy, or 83 Indian team, Ponting has a chance to carve it on the capstone, and see if his tools are still sharp to do it...

  • punter1973 on November 21, 2011, 4:57 GMT

    Mark my word Ricky will indeed save this test match for Australia, meaning he will score a Hundred and help the others to bat and score runs. Ricky is too far a good batsman to be criticized, his bat will do the talking and all his criticis will have to dina another excuse.

    Ricky is such a marvellous cricketer to watch when he is in form, a batsman is required to help the side when needed most and Ricky is the man. It is not the records of scoring 50 hundreds or the most number of runs, a batsman has to score and be a matchwinner, that is when he is needed the most.

    However it is a super test match to watch, worth your money.

    Also one need to bear in mind unlike the Indian crciket team who does not want DRS and whines most of the time, the Aust / Sa cricket is played with DRS review system, hence scoring a hundred is not easy.

  • brijeshnain on November 21, 2011, 4:38 GMT

    Could not help but admire the grit of the man yesterday. Still feel he has a lot to offer Australia. His form hasn't deserted him, just that he comes to the crease with a cluttered mind and fear of losing the sheen of his career if he doesn't perform. Just like Tendulkar is feeling at the moment with so much pressure around the ton of tons. Hopefully this 50 will free him of the doubts in the mind. Hopefully he goes on to win this Test for Australia. Hopefully he plays in the India Australia series where I would love to see 4 legends instead of 3. Cricket would be poorer without him.

  • Naren on November 21, 2011, 4:34 GMT

    Don't forget that Ponting received 2 marginal decisions. Hawk Eye showing both clipping the outside of the leg stump. Sometimes you need that luck. Very unfortunate in a 2-test series.

  • Suraweera on November 21, 2011, 4:28 GMT

    He is a classy player. He should be playing Test another year I guess.

  • on November 21, 2011, 4:27 GMT

    He is going to make it....

  • Rahul_78 on November 21, 2011, 4:27 GMT

    I want Punter to score a hundred and SAFers to win the test as I hate seeing OZ win in cricket. We need as much as we can get of legends like Ponting. As much as I love to hate Ponting, the game will certainly be poorer if and when he decides to call it quits.

  • on November 21, 2011, 4:21 GMT

    It is not fair to write off Punter carrier has finished. He is a legend, if he come across the pressure and started performing he can play for another couple of years atleast. Players always pass through lean patches and most of the time it won't be noticed. Last year Dravid was not in good form. Most of our cricket forced him to retire. This is the he is top scorer and no one is there to replace the wall. Same thing going to be happened for Punter as well. He achieved lot and he is having the capabiliy to achieve more. The player like him need to be decided by him when he can go for retirement.

  • RandyOZ on November 21, 2011, 3:50 GMT

    The greatest batsman since Bradman should easily be able to nail this small total. Go Punter!!!

  • here2rock on November 21, 2011, 3:41 GMT

    It is really sad to read that " Ponting jogged out to intense boos from the South African fans". If they can not respect a legend of the game then at least they should not disrespect him. Regardless of how he performs today, he will always be remebered as a great player in the history of the game, NOTHING can take that away from this fact. He has given us memorable innings over number of years in all formats of the game. THANK YOU RICKY.

  • popcorn on November 21, 2011, 3:33 GMT

    Ricky Ponting deserves the BEST Farewell IN AUSTRALIA whenever he decides to hang up his boots - NOT IN SOUTH AFRICA. He has been the next best batsman to Sir Don Bradman, the WINNINGEST Test Captain EVER IN HISTORY, the ONLY Test Captain to give the Poms a 5 NIL Thrashing after Warwick Armstrong 85 years before 2006 -07. He is the Australian who has the MAXIMUM NUMBER of TEST and ODI Runs AND Centuries. The boy from Launceston deserves EVERY ACCOLADE for the yeoman service he has performed for Australia.

  • zico123 on November 21, 2011, 3:32 GMT

    either way it should be last innings for Ponting, he should walk off or selectors should take the hard call, NZ series is best time to blood in youth

  • Vinodha19 on November 21, 2011, 3:28 GMT

    He is my favourite player. As I am an indian I want him to play atleast 2yrs. I love to see the competition b/w dravid and pounting in the ind vs aus series.I want aus to regain the ashes with the help of him. I hope that he score century and save the series.

  • backwardpoint on November 21, 2011, 3:22 GMT

    Risky Panting has done 50% of the job. Now just stich one or two more partnerships and ensure that Aus are over the line - it doesnt freaking matter if he gets a 100 or not. A 100 wld be a big bonus - but bat for the team to take the match and lvl the series and ensure that the team is through and there is no way selectors will not take note of it. and whats more - he will have come back to fprm by then. Do it Ricky. do it for us. Do it for yourself. do it for them. Do it for all.

  • Mary_786 on November 21, 2011, 3:07 GMT

    Great innings from Khawaja, Australian batting looks in good hands with the likes of Khawaja and Marsh in the top order.

  • AdamDthecricketer on November 21, 2011, 3:04 GMT

    If you remember last summer people called for Husseys head before last ashes series. He ended up being our best batsman. A Good player stay as good player They dont lose their ability overnight.He will soon return to form. They should drop him in one day cricket to debut new blood in that format.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on November 21, 2011, 2:31 GMT

    All you Ponting bashers, please back off and let him play his natural game. He'll bow out gracefully the day he knows his time is up. Rarely we get so see such Legends. Wonder why so many people are baying for the blood of such a Legend.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on November 21, 2011, 2:29 GMT

    Absolutely top class inning from Ponting under immense pressure both personally and on the series front. Gem of a batsman. Hats off to Ponting. Hope he gets a ton tomorrow and takes Australia across the line. I wanted Kallis too to make a century. Too bad he didn't.

  • rahulcricket007 on November 21, 2011, 2:21 GMT

    @BRYAN COVERDABLE . RICKY WILL PLAY UPTO 2013 ASHES SERIES . OK . HE WILL MAKE CENTURY TOMMOROW AND WILL SHOW HIS REAL CLASS. AS AN INDIAN FAN I WANT HIM TO COME TO INDIA IN OCT 2012 FOR BORDER -GAVASKAR TROPHY OTHERWISE THE SERIES WILL NOT BE MUCH OF INTEREST .

  • zenboomerang on November 21, 2011, 2:14 GMT

    Seems CA is always 2-3 years behind what is happening on the field... Ponting has underperformed for way too long, but CA hopefully will give hime a swan-song in Aus (seems the way that CA & players like to retire from international cricket)... Probably Hobart in his home State & end of NZ mini-series... Being capt spared him, but with 18 months to prepare for Ashes tour it is time for Ponting, Hussey & Haddin to play out all their swan-songs this summer... The earlier the better...

  • rapidstar on November 21, 2011, 2:08 GMT

    Ponting WILL fail tomorrow & he must retire. At least get got a 50 on his last match!

  • rohanbala on November 21, 2011, 1:53 GMT

    Ricky Ponting should give out his best on day 5 of the current test against SA and help his team level the series. The rest of the team members should also put their heads down and contribute to the team's cause. Calling for the heads of senior players (while they have still many years of cricket left in them) is nothing new as far as Australian cricket is concerned and journalists provide enough fodder for the selectors to make it easy to "selectively" chop senior players. Its just that this time it is Brydon Coverdale who is anxious to write the epitaph for Ponting's tenure at the crease.

  • johnnycash on November 21, 2011, 1:35 GMT

    I'm with you meety, would be good to see punter or haddin or anyone for that matter at the crease when the total is reached. A nice sunny day would help things along. I enjoyed watching Usman bat last night, his confidence was there for all to see. Cmon you aussies - GET BEHIND YOUR SIDE!!!!!!!

  • on November 21, 2011, 1:26 GMT

    Greates of the game he should be in the team for india tour of australia.i like the way he paly when he is on song.

  • hitacrosstheline on November 21, 2011, 1:19 GMT

    While I've found Ponting a poor sportsman over the years, his cricketing genius and athleticism have always left me in awe. If his reflexes on the field are any indication, Ponting continues to have much to contribute with the bat to Australian (and world) cricket yet. Australia was wrong to force Hayden into premature retirement, and is on the verge of making the same mistake with Ponting. Although I've never, ever rooted for Ponting (while always admiring his outrageous talent), this is one occasion when I wish the man a century, and more.

  • on November 21, 2011, 1:13 GMT

    @ gothetaniwha--u hit the nail on the head!!!that was my point too..if tendulkar can play at 38 y cnt punter

  • azzaman333 on November 21, 2011, 1:04 GMT

    I truly hope this is his last ever innings in test cricket, before he completely tarnishes his record.

  • AvidFanDownUnder on November 21, 2011, 1:02 GMT

    I am not a Ponting fan (and definitely not as Captain) but there is no denying he is a Champion player (again I'm not a fan but I recognise the talent). He is a great player and no doubt with the support of the rest of the team has won plenty for Australia (which again isn't wrong as cricket is a team sport that should be won). I don't understand why he'd want to retire (and why people would want him to retire) - unlike Sachin he still seems have plenty of years to offer (I think he could go on for five more if he wants), he is definitely hungry and he hasn't lost his talent. I still remember the 1999/2000 series against Pakistan where he had 0, 0 and 0 and followed it up with 197 and didn't stop again till 2001. He may not have been our best captain but there is no denying he is a champion cricketer and deserves to go at a time of his choosing.

  • othello22 on November 21, 2011, 0:07 GMT

    It has certainly been a good innings so far under excruciating pressure, but the key now is going on with it and scoring a big, match winning hundred. If he's out early in the morning and we lose by 80 runs, it will count for little. You can sense that Ricky knows this however, it's been a long time since I've seen him look this focussed and determined at the crease and that will make the Proteas very nervous. They know only too well what this guy is capable of, so until they see him walking back to the pavillion, they will not relax or rest easy. Either way, the good news is we're going to get a result tomorrow which is the important thing. Why is it that Aus V SA test matches rarely end in draws???

  • RohCricket on November 20, 2011, 23:53 GMT

    hope ponting keeps pushing through, playing straight. it would be bloody beautiful if he could make a century in an aussie win, with him there at the end. GO THE AUSSIES, and because I love punter, GO PONTING!!

  • Meety on November 20, 2011, 23:42 GMT

    7 wickets & 168 runs - you would normally say advantage Oz. However with 9/21 still ringing in the ears & then the 1st innings fade out from 0/169, on the balance of current events you'd say the Saffas in front - particularly after nabbing Khawaja. The 1st Test saw Pup silence a lot of his knockers, maybe this will be the innings where he can put an exclamation mark on that statement! To win, I thought Oz needed 2 good partnerships, with at least one centurian. We've had one good partnership so far, I have a sneaking suspicion that there maybe some quality contributions from Hussey, Haddin & MJ before this match is out. Even though 300+ is never easy, & the pitch has got where in it (rightly so), I am surprisingly confident we can ride this one to victory.

  • brisCricFan on November 20, 2011, 23:37 GMT

    Odd how all the knockers are now in the drivers seat of the band wagon... For the record, have always supported Punter for his gritty determination and dogged fight to win when things looked darkest... When he walked to the crease last night, I held my breath for his first few balls hoping he would get his feet moving early, but this has been an issue with him even as a 19 year old playing for Tas so nothing to do with his age... two overs later, I knew he would be there at the end of the day... I want the ton not to see him just make this home series, but believe there are still a couple of good years left in the old dog... @5wombats - yes, have heard your loud calls for the last 3 years on RP, good to see the old enemy can honour a valiant foe.

  • gothetaniwha on November 20, 2011, 23:27 GMT

    Can,t understand why people want him to retire , hes a very fit 37 compare to Tendukar who looks an old man at 38 , sure he has not score the runs in the last 18 months that he should have , but that is probably why Aussie have slipped so much lately , but the rest of the batting lineup hasn't fronted as well . love to see Punter crack a ton tommorow and stick it to the media .

  • Imz25 on November 20, 2011, 23:16 GMT

    Punter is an absolute legend of the game! Best of luck to him for today.

  • MinusZero on November 20, 2011, 23:12 GMT

    For the good of the team, Ponting needs to step down. Realistically, how long does he have left anyway. Surely its time to get these young players more experience.

  • Silloh on November 20, 2011, 22:55 GMT

    Whenever the talk is to write off any great players and they are under pressure they respond as they know best and that is by lashing a century and more. Ricky Ponting is going to do the same and win this test match for Australia ! I believe Australia need a bit of experience as they continue to re build and Ponting is the man. He will be the first man to decide when its time to call it a day but not now man ... unless we want to see test cricket slide faster downhill. So sorry South Africa, if Ponting is still there after half an hour your goose is cooked.

  • on November 20, 2011, 22:45 GMT

    Am I alone in thinking that if Ponting gets a ton, it will simply be a great opportunity for him to bow out gracefully and call it a day? The team needs new blood and the New Zealand tour is the best place for it. If he comes back into the form to cane the Black Caps attack, isn't that nothing short of a waste? I hope he gets a ton but at the same time I don't think Aus should have to carry him through the rest of the Summer. The Test team needs to be bigger than one man right now.

  • sarathy2004in on November 20, 2011, 22:43 GMT

    Its really shameful to see a person like Ricky under immense pressure.....Kindly leave him to play his natural game.......i m not a ricky fan nor aussies but still feel a pride to see great players like him to perform........Prove yourself to ur board that ur a perfect and greatest stroke player in this australian side....I really like ur stroke play.....play positively like a true test player...It's a real support for u from an real indian fan!!! fight for test cricket to shine.........

  • on November 20, 2011, 22:23 GMT

    That is one crazy stat having the 156th test match deciding the fate of 3 of our greatest batsmen.

    If Ponting wants to carry on past our summer he needs to dominate in the India series, he can't scratch his way through the series and make another career saving 100.

  • Alexk400 on November 20, 2011, 21:36 GMT

    I want aussie to lose but i want ponting century. Can it happen?. if ponting makes century aussies certain to win.

  • on November 20, 2011, 21:27 GMT

    i am a die hard sa cricket fan , however ricky ponting is someone i have adoed all my life. obviously i want sa to win the test match tomorrow but i also want ponting to feature in the series aginst nzl and india. i dont know why. this is your last innings in sa ricky . i wish you all the best because i know i became a cricket fan because of sa but australia has been my greatest rival because of you. if sa wins tomorrow i will be jubilant but also if you prove yourself once again i wont be dissapointed

  • on November 20, 2011, 21:27 GMT

    ponting is d best in the league!!!just hope he scores 2mrw a mtch winn century!!!n by this way sachin wud feel the heat to score hs century!!!<jst kiddin >

  • SnowSnake on November 20, 2011, 20:12 GMT

    While I want Australia to win and Ponting to score a century, the odds of both appear low. Most likely outcome looks like SA winning by over 50 runs and Ponting getting out in first hour tomorrow. If Australia wins then it will be a remarkable achievement. Ponting scoring a century in Australian win would be icing on the cake.

  • Flat_Pitch_Bully on November 20, 2011, 20:05 GMT

    The flame is brightest before it extinguishes!

  • on November 20, 2011, 20:00 GMT

    not a fan of pointing..but this the straightest i have ever seen his bat..its almost like if he knoes all that stands beside him and being regarded as history is his bat..i really want him to get that match saving hundred so he can retire in austrialia like all the greats did..

  • madcricfan on November 20, 2011, 19:55 GMT

    Ricky.. my man...!Go for it..a match winning century ll shut the critics..i loved d way u played today..pls continue.

  • ankitrawat8 on November 20, 2011, 19:54 GMT

    Would love to see Ponting getting a ton here, staying unbeaten and winning it for Australia. Tons of Indian fans are rooting for a match winning, career saving Punter ton here!!!

  • on November 20, 2011, 19:49 GMT

    there is no doubt that PUNTER is still the great player and young players learn alot by just having in the team. he is one of his own kind. last player of great era which consists of mark taylor, waugh brothers, shane warne, glenn mcgrath,adam gilchrist, mathew hayden etc.

  • dnarmstrong on November 20, 2011, 19:44 GMT

    I don't understand, not one mention of sachin.

  • CriticalMay on November 20, 2011, 19:42 GMT

    Ccome on ricky you can do it, do itman you can do it this time, so that people who are saying mean things about you here can eat the dust. Go Ponting!!!

  • Kaze on November 20, 2011, 19:41 GMT

    @alune very true that. Ponting and Lara are very close, Lara batted in a weak side but Ponting has done some amazing things in his career, probably his best is his destruction of India in the 2003 WC final. Would be Ponting, Lara then daylight then Kallis and Sangakarra.

  • 5wombats on November 20, 2011, 19:33 GMT

    Well done Ponting. The time to perform is when your team most needs you - and if he pulls his team to victory it will be a magnificent achievement. Only halfway there just at the moment. Most people here know what the wombats think of Ricky - but credit where it's due, always.

  • on November 20, 2011, 19:30 GMT

    ricky ponting not the retire he is very us full player i said ricky contuie the cricket

  • on November 20, 2011, 19:10 GMT

    Ricky Ponting is a champion and should play some more. World of cricket needs class players like him in Test cricket. A gutsy 50 today shows his mental strength. I like South Africa better but wouldn't mind a match winning Ponting century tomorrow

  • ian_ghose on November 20, 2011, 19:06 GMT

    Now that is what I call performing under pressure!! I'd love to see Ricky take Australia to victory and get that hundred in the process. Why? Because he deserves to.

  • alune on November 20, 2011, 19:02 GMT

    Ricky Ponting is the greatest batsman of this era.

  • Jay.Dee on November 20, 2011, 19:02 GMT

    we don't need indications for the time to end ponting's cricketing career,,,,having watched him bat today i would consider it a very callous decision to axe him. Nearly 37, he's the fittest player around. Well, hoping for the best tomrrow. Fingers crossed!!!

  • on November 20, 2011, 18:49 GMT

    It was a treat to watch the duo bat.. although the pitch was OK,u can feel the trying circumstances, Ponting showed the same resilience that got him a century against India in WC, and i feel that this innings has so much significance, a century tomorrow and Ponting will buy himself another Summer, and from then on u never know

  • on November 20, 2011, 18:41 GMT

    There is no way that Ricky Ponting is going to retire. There has to be one Great Test Cricketer representing their National Cricket Team, Sadly if Ponting is under immense pressure from his team management then it would be the most foolish call in the history of Australia Cricket for sure. Ricky Ponting in this particular innings has answered most of his critics by saying if you pressurize me further even after this display then the coming Summer is going to be filled with only regrets and nothing more! The current Australian Team barring Ricky Ponting and part Micheal Hussey have no one to be called greats of the game. Each Cricket team has one atleast who is playing Test Cricket. India have Tendulkar,Dravid and VVS, Sri lanka have Sanga and Jayawardane, WI have Chanderpaul, England have KP, SA have Kallis, NZ have Vettori and Pakistan have Younus Khan. It would be really sad to see Australia without someone really great who embraced the game, it would just be tasteless watching AUS.

  • on November 20, 2011, 18:41 GMT

    He should keep playing till his average drops below 50.

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  • on November 20, 2011, 18:41 GMT

    He should keep playing till his average drops below 50.

  • on November 20, 2011, 18:41 GMT

    There is no way that Ricky Ponting is going to retire. There has to be one Great Test Cricketer representing their National Cricket Team, Sadly if Ponting is under immense pressure from his team management then it would be the most foolish call in the history of Australia Cricket for sure. Ricky Ponting in this particular innings has answered most of his critics by saying if you pressurize me further even after this display then the coming Summer is going to be filled with only regrets and nothing more! The current Australian Team barring Ricky Ponting and part Micheal Hussey have no one to be called greats of the game. Each Cricket team has one atleast who is playing Test Cricket. India have Tendulkar,Dravid and VVS, Sri lanka have Sanga and Jayawardane, WI have Chanderpaul, England have KP, SA have Kallis, NZ have Vettori and Pakistan have Younus Khan. It would be really sad to see Australia without someone really great who embraced the game, it would just be tasteless watching AUS.

  • on November 20, 2011, 18:49 GMT

    It was a treat to watch the duo bat.. although the pitch was OK,u can feel the trying circumstances, Ponting showed the same resilience that got him a century against India in WC, and i feel that this innings has so much significance, a century tomorrow and Ponting will buy himself another Summer, and from then on u never know

  • Jay.Dee on November 20, 2011, 19:02 GMT

    we don't need indications for the time to end ponting's cricketing career,,,,having watched him bat today i would consider it a very callous decision to axe him. Nearly 37, he's the fittest player around. Well, hoping for the best tomrrow. Fingers crossed!!!

  • alune on November 20, 2011, 19:02 GMT

    Ricky Ponting is the greatest batsman of this era.

  • ian_ghose on November 20, 2011, 19:06 GMT

    Now that is what I call performing under pressure!! I'd love to see Ricky take Australia to victory and get that hundred in the process. Why? Because he deserves to.

  • on November 20, 2011, 19:10 GMT

    Ricky Ponting is a champion and should play some more. World of cricket needs class players like him in Test cricket. A gutsy 50 today shows his mental strength. I like South Africa better but wouldn't mind a match winning Ponting century tomorrow

  • on November 20, 2011, 19:30 GMT

    ricky ponting not the retire he is very us full player i said ricky contuie the cricket

  • 5wombats on November 20, 2011, 19:33 GMT

    Well done Ponting. The time to perform is when your team most needs you - and if he pulls his team to victory it will be a magnificent achievement. Only halfway there just at the moment. Most people here know what the wombats think of Ricky - but credit where it's due, always.

  • Kaze on November 20, 2011, 19:41 GMT

    @alune very true that. Ponting and Lara are very close, Lara batted in a weak side but Ponting has done some amazing things in his career, probably his best is his destruction of India in the 2003 WC final. Would be Ponting, Lara then daylight then Kallis and Sangakarra.