So the great Australian cricketer Ricky Ponting has finally called it a day. Ponting will turn 38 in a couple of weeks and knows that his time up, especially considering the poor form he has been in the current Test series with South Africa.
At the end of a great career, a look at the good, the bad and the ugly side of Ponting…
Great batsman: With more than 13000 runs and 41 centuries in Test cricket along with a similar amount of runs and 30 centuries in ODIs, Ponting is truly an all-time great. Ponting has always been an aggressive player and is the master of the pull shot and cover drive and was always a delight to watch.
But more than that he is one of the greatest fighters of international cricket and always performs when put in a pressure cooker situation. Who can forget his captain’s knock of 140 not out in the 2003 World Cup final that helped the Aussies post a formidable 359/2 and totally blow India away?
After 2000, India has been Australia’s greatest nemesis and Ponting has hit three double centuries against us. What VVS Laxman has been to Australia, Ponting has been to India.
Great captain: While West Indian Clive Lloyd probably led the most fearsome Test team of all time and Aussie Steve Waugh is considered the greatest captain, statistically Ponting is on top. He has won 48 Tests while leading his side with only South African Graeme Smith closing in.
As an ODI captain, he is simply in a league of his own. He has won 165 out of 230 matches with an amazing success rate of 76%. To put this in perspective, compatriot Allan Border is the only captain with more than 100 ODI wins (107). This is one record that may last for a long long time. He also captained his team to two ODI World Cup wins.
The Ashes: This cup between Australia and England is one of the most fiercely fought series in the world and goes back to the nineteenth century. A loss here means a big loss of face in the particular country.
While Ponting had many successes, this was easily his biggest failure. He lost not one but three Ashes series: 2005, 2009 and 2010-11. He only won in 2006-07. This was all the more tragic because the Aussies had won 8 straight Ashes before Ponting took over!
While 2005 and 2009 was a narrow contest and England won both 2-1, 2010-11 was the most humiliating. Australia lost 1-3 on home soil.
He faded away: While Ponting stormed the cricketing world with both his batting and captaincy, he faded away in both towards the end. He failed to have a Test series average greater than 35 for four series before the India tour in Australia early this year revived his career. But he flopped again with West Indies and South Africa forcing him to finally call it a day.
He faded away in the ODI scene too and the twilight of his captaincy was a sad affair where he was totally clueless. As captain he went out in the quarters of the ODI World Cup and also failed to make an impact in the international T20 scene.
While Waugh started the process of mental disintegration and sledging, Ponting as captain took it to abysmal levels. Ponting led a brash and rude team that failed to adhere to the spirit of the game for most of the time.
He has claimed a catch even though the ball had clearly touched the ground. He has raised his finger and told the batsman to get off the field even as umpires were in consultation over a doubtful decision. He has vociferously argued with umpires.
Ponting has used a graphite bat, which was later declared illegal by the ICC. He once hurled abuses at the England dressing room while getting off the field and even told Sharad Pawar to clear the podium when Australia won the ICC Champions Trophy.
And who can forget Monkeygate, one of the ugliest incidents of cricket? Relations between India and Australia had never been so low and Ponting was at the centre of it all.
The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.
He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/