Ricky Ponting – The man with a swagger




“Love him or hate him, you can’t ignore him.” said a quote on a popular social networking site.

After pondering over it for a little while, I thought you couldn’t describe Ricky Thomas Ponting better in one sentence. Punter was a player that every non-Aussie loved to hate, but admired secretly; the aggression, the ruthless competitor in him and of course, sending the short ball scurrying across to the square leg boundary.

Ricky Ponting - The man with a swagger

Ricky Ponting – The man with a swagger

My first memories of Ricky Ponting would date back to the end of the millennium, where he came in lower down the order and was already seen as a young prodigy. He walked into the ground with a swagger, chewing gum and one look at him and you would already mistake him for a spoilt brat. But once he began to unleash those outrageous cuts and pulls, all would be forgotten.

Ponting’s career was a statistician’s delight – over a 100 Test victories, over 25,000 runs in International cricket, a part of three World Cup successes, including the most destructive innings ever in a World Cup final and leading a team for a decade that dominated World Cricket like no other: a cricket career cannot ask for any more. If it does, add in those spectacular catches, whether at slip, gully or silly point, Ponting has seen, done and conquered it all.

After his debut against South Africa in 1995, Ponting slowly built his career like a Test innings – slow and steady at the start before beginning to unleash his wrath as he carried on. A few failures, most notably where he managed only 17 runs in five innings against India in 2001, threatened to jeopardize his career. But when he bounced back, was more matured at the end of it and started building runs, records and a glorious career.

He took over the captaincy in the shorter format of the game from Steve Waugh in 2002 and an year later, played the most destructive innings ever in a World Cup final to lead the Kangaroos to their second consecutive World Cup.  Back home, he continued to bat like a dream and became only the first batsmen ever after Don Bradman to score three double centuries in a calendar year, including back to back double hundreds against India at Adelaide and Melbourne. And by the time India had left the shores of Australia, Punter was appointed Australia’s 42nd Test skipper.

Ponting’s captaincy stint was a tide of highs and lows, the highs clearly overshadowing the lows. With a plethora of superstars at his disposal, Ponting’s reign as a skipper began pretty comfortably notching up 3-0 victories against Sri Lanka and Pakistan. But his first roadblock came in the epic 2005 series against England where he became the first Australian skipper to taste defeat in the Ashes since 1987. But Ponting bounced back in a style that only he could. He smashed 576 runs in the return series to regain the Ashes after a 5-0 thumping of the Poms. In addition, he led the team to yet another World Cup victory in the Caribbean. Meanwhile Ponting the batsmen, had grown in stature and had overtaken Gavaskar, Border and then Lara to move into second position in the list of Test run-getters and for a while, even threatened to overtake Sachin in the list of Test centuries.  His proud swagger became the symbol of Aussie dominance.

The last few years though, have been rough on Ricky. Not only has his own personal form dipped, but he has remained the last man bridging the era in which the Aussies were simply unbeatable to a time when they were fifth in the ICC Rankings. The Ashes losses in 2009 and 10 are small blotches in a simply incredible career. In the ODI format too, his run of 34 consecutive World Cup games without a defeat inevitably came to an end and a very few will remember that he scored a century in a losing cause in the Quarterfinals of the 2011 World Cup.

Like his contemporaries, Ricky knew that his time had come after a stretched run of consistent failures with the bat. The manners of the dismissals were even more appalling. And when he went down on his knees in Adelaide, he knew that his time was up. When Ricky Ponting walks into bat on Monday morning for the last time, he would have left a huge hole in Australia’s middle order – not only for the runs he scored or for the catches he took, but for the ruthlessness and unparalleled competitive aggression he brought on to the field.

Ten or twenty years down the lane, think not of Ricky for the runs scored in the last two years or specially in the last two weeks, but as a stroke player who cut and pulled and drove with finesse and a leader with a stare as firm as his handshake.

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Monish Menon

Author:

Hi, I am Monish Menon from Hyderabad and currently working at Franklin Templeton Investments as a Compliance Business Analyst. Sport has always been my passion since I was a kid and I invest all my non-existent free time by watching, playing, writing and analyzing various sporting events across the world. Apart from being a diehard Manchester United fan and a Ferrari supporter, I believe that Roger Federer is still the best tennis player and Sachin Tendulkar is God. I play club cricket and I also am a part of my organization’s cricket and football squad. Being such a sports fanatic, writing about it is something that came naturally to me and I am glad that I got an opportunity through thesportsmirror.com to share my thoughts with the rest of the world. For other articles written by me, you can visit my blog at www.monishmenon.wordpress.com

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