Viv Richards has hailed Ricky Ponting's brashness and "show-no-fear" attitude as among his greatest traits, and Shane Warne has lauded Ponting's habit of making runs when Australia most needed them. Ponting farewelled Test cricket with Australia's loss to South Africa in Perth this week and on Thursday, Warne and Richards, in Melbourne in the lead-up to Friday night's Big Bash League opener, reflected on Ponting's 17-year Test career.
"Certainly he's up there with the very best," Richards said. "What I love about him more than anything else, you look at the way he walks out to the crease. He always has presence. There is a tenaciousness about him. He walks out and believes. He's not going to be intimidated by no one. I would like guys like that. I appreciate seeing guys who come out and have a particular presence."
The same words could have been used to describe Richards, one of Wisden's five cricketers of the century, a man who never wore a helmet and stared down fast bowlers all over the world while nonchalantly chewing his gum. Although the careers of the two men did not overlap - Richards retired from Test cricket four years before Ponting made his debut - Richards saw plenty of Ponting's batting and was impressed by the attitude he displayed from his very first match in 1995.
"A young batter who wants to make it, you cannot feel like you have one foot in and one foot out," Richards said. "You've got to make that crease your house. Ricky always made the crease his house. I've always been in his corner as a player because of that brashness, he's an in-your-face sort of guy. Show no fear. Batsmen sometimes can be intimidated by a guy from how far he runs up, but you just put that at the back of your mind and bat with what you have. Ricky, to me, certainly did that."
Richards is part of the BBL this year as a batting mentor for the Melbourne Stars, who are captained by Warne, a man who played 85 Tests alongside Ponting. Although Warne was not always enamoured with Ponting's captaincy decisions, he said Ponting's ability to score runs when Australia faced potential trouble was one of the reasons the team was so successful.
"It was fun to play with Ricky Ponting," Warne said. "I met him as a 16-year-old at the cricket academy in Adelaide. He was a guy who was pretty tough and an uncompromising sort of player. He will definitely go down with Greg Chappell and Allan Border and Bradman as the greatest batsmen Australia have had, and he'll hold up well on the international stage.
"He loved a scrap, he loved a fight, he was always good when the team really needed him he put his hand up. That's a really good characteristic in any player. It's not about how many runs you get, it's about when you get your runs and when you take your wickets. I think Ricky always got the majority of his runs when Australia really needed him. That was a standout characteristic of his. He was good fun to play with and tough as nails."