Spotted by Rod marsh at the age of 17 in the academy and was said to be the best teen player in Australia and rightly so. Ponting made his international debut against South Africa (1995) in a One day international at the basin reserve in wellington. The young 20 year old Tasmanian didn’t raise a lot of eyebrows in his debut innings and fell for a paltry 1 as he was given the number six position to bat. Ponting failed to make amends.
Ponting, much like Sachin Tendulkar never really made a name for himself for about 2-3 years. It wasn’t till 1997-1998 did the current champion announce himself at the international stage. He had a phenomenal year with the bat especially in the ODI Format where he made 1165 runs at an average of 53.
Unknown to many Ponting was a bit of a rebellion something like his former team mate Andrew Symonds. Drinks, pubs and brawls were ‘just the usual’ in Ponting’s case. However, just like Symonds Ponting was given a final chance too, which he accepted and 13 years on since the last incident skipper Ponting has never crossed the Line.
The time still hadn’t come where ponting was good. He was still a talented youngster and not to mention a brilliant fielder who was a regular at point-backward point for Australia. It was 2000. The decade which would not just change this boy to a man but, from talent- to good to great to a champion that he is now.
He averaged above 50 in at least one form of the game every year for the next four years. Ponting was now not just the mainstay but, formed a major chunk of the middle order. He was surprisingly promoted to skipper after Steve Waugh wasn’t picked for the world cup squad in 2003.
It was Adam Gilchrist who served as stand by captain whenever steve Waugh missed out. This was a surprise a big one at that too. Was the ACB looking at the long term future considering gilchrist was 31 and ponting was 27; but it was a risk considering the rebel that ponting had been in his early years.
However, it was a risk that paid off! Ponting brought home the world cup with a splendid performance not just as captain but as batsman too especially in the finals where he let the bat do the talking making 140* against India helping Australia post a huge score of 359.
Ponting had won Australia the world cup! Ricky Ponting had won Australia the world cup without Shane Warne! This was immensely important as it gave Australia the confidence that Shane Warne was not the be all and end all of Australian cricket. Ponting then awaited the Indians where he scored 2 double centuries in a 4 test series including his career best score of 257. 2003 was ponting’s best year with the bat as he scored more then 1500 runs and averaged more than 100 in test match cricket. His ODI performace wasn’t too bad either with over 1100 runs at 46. Ponting was now been seen as a threat to all opponents. His big match performances were making him fearful to bowl at.
Ponting continued his brilliant performance and after this particular series against India took over as Australian test captain too. Ponting was instrumental in handing the Australians the number of wins they did end up with in those two years. The Australians then flew to what was going to be their lowest point in the whole decade. They went to England to defend the ashes. There was something about the England unit- the zeal! Freddie flintoff or KP perhaps something new something refreshing!
Something the England unit never showed before!
The season was going to be a miserable one (foreshadowing) when Australia lost to Bangladesh for the first time and lost a T20 match in an embarrassing fashion to England. The 2005 ashes was now all set to get underway! The series started in typical fashion when Australia ran through England at lords. Ponting had a wonderful game too and Australia were clinical with their performance. It was not until the 3rd test at old Trafford where ponting showed his true class with a fighting last day 156 that ensured that Australia managed to keep the series at 1-1. Ponting was named man of the match for his gutsy effort and it is perhaps ponting’s most defiant innings under pressure.
Again, Come’t the hour! Come’t the man!!
Ponting did not let the ashes defeat get to him as he continued to perform and dominate bowlers at will. Ponting then went on to win Australia their first ever champions trophy in India. The ashes was next. This time in their backyard.
Australia absolutely rammed through England! A whitewash! 5-0!
Ponting’s most satisfying moments as captain I’d say! The guilt had gone. The Australians not just ponting were guilt free. They had had their revenge in the best possible manner. Ponting was prolific through the series scoring 576 runs and was deservingly adjudged Man of the series. The good run continued the run machine continued! He then went on to win Australia their 4th world cup and 3rd consecutive one. He was on a roll.
But, the roll was now about to rock and rock bad. With players namely Justin langer, Damien martyn, Shane Warne and glenn mcgath all gone everything couldn’t be perfect could it.
The Australian team were coming to the realms of things. They were coming to where other teams were. They were coming back to earth!
They thrashed New Zealand thanks to skipper ponting again who hammered 2 centuries in a 3 match ODI series. India were next! Ponting would have loved to repeat his performance the last time round the Indians were there. However, that was not to be as ponting had one of his worst summers not just as batsman but as captain. He was severely criticized and to an extent disowned by the Australian crowd after the Sydney fiasco. Ponting was in tatters with only Senior pro’s Gilchrist and Hayden remaining. Between all this Ishant Sharma was tormenting ponting.
The ODI series came and Adam gilchrist announced it would be his last summer in international cricket. Ponting had just Hayden now. Australia went on to lose against India not just the ODI series but also the test series in India. Australia were facing tough opponents!
First, India than South Africa than- The ashes. The aussies went home and lost their first home test series in a long long time. South Africa had not just created history but had inflicted pain by usurping Australia from the world no 1 throne. The game was changing. Matthew Hayden had gone too.
Ponting was left. This was his true test of character and as they say champions do fight back. Ponting went to South African soil and embarrassed the proteas with his young side and beat them 2-1 in a hard fought test series. The aussies seemed on a high again. They had found sensations in Mitchell Johnson, Marcus North and Philip Hughes. In spite of losing the ODI series the aussies still looked good for the T20 championship and the ashes to follow. Australia were blasted by gayle out of the tournament in the qualifiers itself.
Not the ideal preparation for the ashes, ehh?
Australia went into the first test match at Cardiff and dominated proceedings right from the word go with punter leading from the front with a defiant 150. Australia were extremely close from winning the first test but it was monty panesar and jimmy Anderson who denied them from the same.
England won the second test at lords thus giving Australia their first loss in an ashes test match at lords in 75 years. Ponting went on to lose the ashes thus becoming only the second captain in Australian history after Billy Murdoch to lose the ashes twice in England. Ponting’s team was shattered. The critics were out with their saws ready to drop it on ponting. There were questions about ponting handling just the test side and having Michael Clarke to handle the ODI and T20 format. Ponting returned home for a break and would resume midway through the NatWest ODI series. The critics raised many a question and ponting answered it one by one in humility. He said one thing though ‘If his body prevails he will be prepared to go back to England come 2013 and give it one more shot all be it not as captain”!
Words of a humbled man with a never say die spirit. Ponting returned to England in the 4th ODI and played some wonderful knocks including a century in the 5th ODI. Australia had soaked some of the pain up after giving England a 6-1 drubbing. They then moved to South Africa defending the champions trophy and did it with success. Ponting hit a century in the semi-finals again against England trying to win back some pride. The aussies were back to playing good cricket.
Ponting brought his men to India. He lost brett lee right in the first match of the tournament. Soon, ponting found himself without lee, Haddin, Clarke, bracken, Siddle, paine, ferguson and then hopes. Australia had lost most of their first choice players. In spite of all this Australia still managed to take the series 4-2. Ponting’s captaincy has to be lauded—it’s easy to be a great captain when you have greatness around you.
It’s easy to keep winning. Ponting and his team had suffered a string of losses in the last 12 months. His captaincy and motivation was instrumental in knitting the group together and conquering the once “final frontier”. Australia went back home after what seemed a long-long time. It was an okay tour having won the series in south Africa, the champions trophy, the natwest series and won in India. In the bargain, they had lost the T20 world cup and more importantly the ASHES. Ponting had a poor start to the season and was hit on his elbow by Kemar roach at a pacey perth wicket. This effected his batting and ponting was about to have one of his worst home summers. One match is all it takes to turn things round and so it was in ponting’s case.
One just felt he needed that scratchy 50 or 60. So, in the summers last test match in front of his home crowd at Hobart ponting went on to hit 209 and 89 in the 3rd test against Pakistan. The skipper was back. Having just completed a 5-0 whitewash of Pakistan in the ODI’s Australia seem to be as ominous as ever.
As long as ricky ponting is dawning the Australian colours “All is indeed well”!
Ponting has achieved everything he could’ve asked for. It would only be fitting end if this great man is able to win back or retain the ashes in 2013 against England in their backyard.
Ask for ‘scripted farewell’s’ or what!!
Hats off to the legend –Ricky ponting!
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