Borrowed Time, Glorious Memories

These days one-day internationals are played anywhere and everywhere, throughout the globe, on an almost daily basis. Few mean much. But when two teams with the historic baggage of Australia and India clash, as they did before a cacophonous Motera crowd on Thursday, things happen which you can't help getting excited about and reflecting upon later.

For all India's ultimate success - and any innings in which the sainted Yuvraj plays a pivotal role is music to this Englishman's ears - it was again Ricky Ponting who held the attention in the way he so often has during the period in which his team's decline has moved from the marginal to the terminal.

For too long now Ponting has been living on borrowed time and glorious memories. As his team were crushed by England he came across as a man who hadn't quite grasped the fact that his powers were waning, but now things seem crucially different. For all that he could never say it you get the distinct feeling that he knows that the final curtain may be about to fall. In press conferences the familiar furrowed brow has often been replaced by a relaxed grin, and in the middle extra care is taken in the knowledge that it's all just a little harder than it used to be and there will not be many more opportunities to do what he does best.

When you're only 36 - still, as someone living in a developed country in the twenty-first century, a young man - this realisation must be hard to take. Especially when Sachin, more than eighteen months older, still appears to embody the iron invulnerability of the great player.

Ponting has always shown the maker's name early on but on Thursday this seemed clearer than ever. Play straight, accumulate, try to take sting out of the opposition and their myriad support, and cash in later.

Ultimately the Australian total wasn't good enough to prevent another brick falling from what once seemed an impregnable wall. For them a new era of austerity has long been under way, and it remains to be seen what part Ponting will play in it.

Once again, though, Ponting, at Ahmedabad on 24th March 2011, proved that the greats make their own rules

No comments:

Subscribe in a reader