Sunday 2 August 2009

You'll miss him when he's gone

It was somehow appropriate that Ricky Ponting went past Allan Border's 11,174 Test match runs on a grey day at a foreign field thousands of miles from home; an unflashy push, a smatter of applause, a few hard blinks of his eye, moisture maybe, or a little grit. There was no fuss for or by this most blue-collar of batsmen.

Strange to say, but Ponting deserved better. Circumstances have conspired to drop this mighty accomplishment into the life and times of a fading side in a tight series when other things matter more. The Australian press were preoccupied, the English had different things to write. 

Ponting played it down because that's his nature, a nature that stands in contrast to Lara and Tendulkar, the only men ahead of him now. They are regarded differently to Ponting, differently to everyone, but part of that separation has come from them. Both have embraced that difference, their specialness, far more readily than Ponting has.

Neither were good captains, but their careers will not be considered in that light. Ponting's might. He's not a great captain, he's not always a great man, but he is one of the towering batsmen of the age. This Englishman's cap is doffed.


Rob said...

Ponting is much maligned, some of which I think is due to his combative comments as captain. His stats are remarkable and for the most part at least as good as Lara or Tendulkar. Indeed some of his innings outshine both of them (which world cup did Tendulkar win). The best batsman of this century (certainly the most prized wicket)?

Karthik Krishnaswamy said...

When it comes to aesthetics, I think Ponting's batting slots into a category of its own - eye-catchingly cruel.
Taken individually, as exhibits in a museum of strokeplay, his cover drive and front-foot pull are objects of rare beauty, but as part of an invariably big innings, they melt into a larger picture of Australian juggernautery.
If I were Australian, his batting might warm my heart like it should.
Instead, I yearn for Mark Waugh and Damien Martyn - not because they were any better to watch (more languid, certainly), but because they would only rarely hurt opponents' as badly.
So paradoxically, if Ponting had scored fewer runs, people would have had more time for the beauty of his batting.

Patricia said...

I certainly won't miss him when he's gone. After all that went on when India last toured Australia I began to really dislike the man and I'll be glad when he's gone.

Brit said...

He's a statician's Great rather than a cricker-lover's Great, isn't he? A tremendous scorer of runs but there are probably at least 30 lesser batsmen around now that I'd sooner pay to watch.

I doubt I'll miss him. His skills are immense but unexciting and his flaws are unsympathetic. The stick he gets from the crowds probably all goes back to Pratt-gate and is unfair, but it makes a pleasing change from giving stick to our own players.

podango said...

11000 runs and still cant play off-spin - not great off-spin but half-decent off-spin - no great batsmen should look that clueless consistently in their career. Tendulkar and Lara had weaknesses but those were trifles. This is why RP is not in the same class as BCL and SRT. Nobody had their number. It is a pity Ricky played that many matches in Australia/SA/Eng and too little in India. If he had the same proportion of games as SRT outside his comfort zone(Aus/SA/Eng/NZ are outside comfort for Tendulkar while India/SL could be for Ponting), then we'll know how much Ricky is really worth.

The Old Batsman said...

It's strange isn't it - I can agree with every criticism of him here: he does kind of melt into Australia's general batting, he scores lots of prosaic hundreds, he was crap in India, he got kippered by Graeme Swann and he's overstepped the mark several times, but the record is still immense. For us English it's sobering to think he's scored over 3,000 runs more than any of our test players, ever...

Bob said...

Everybody seems to have issues with Ricky except the statisticians.

If it weren't for the captaincy issues, the task of answering loaded journalist questions or the mandatory pointless measurement against the two others, then he would be given his due.