Ponting in the Age of Certainty

I once met a Yorkshireman on an England supporters' tour of Australia who'd been at the Antigua Recreation Ground when Brian Lara made his 375. He told me that after Lara had been in for about three overs he knew he was going to break the world record. His brother, who was with him, confirmed that he'd stated as much at the time. It sounded ridiculous, but it was simply that he'd seen the pitch, he'd seen the bowling and he'd seen what Lara could do, and decided that nobody was going to get him out. For a couple of days they didn't.

I once had a similar feeling about Ricky Ponting.

In an ODI at Bristol in 2001, England won the toss and batted, making what those of us in the shadow of the Jessop Tavern thought was a competitive 268, the innings rounded up by an unbeaten partnership of 70 between Ben Holliaoke and Owais Shah, who was making his debut. At the start of the Australian reply Darren Gough dismissd Gilchrist cheaply, and we thought England were in with a shout. Ponting, batting at three, knew different.

I can see him now, low-slung and determined, businesslike but with just a hint of swagger, in his gold and green uniform and helmet. Very early on he plays a forward defensive that is so solid and the product of such an all-encompassing stride down the track that I know that no bowler will get him out today. They don't. 104 runs later, with the game almost secure, he is run out. Steve Waugh and Ian Harvey finish the chase off.

When we arrived in Australia in December 1994, everyone was talking about Ponting. It took him another year to get into the Test side, but, by 2001, he was approaching his greatest years. All bowlers came alike. The concept of retirement would never have entered his head. It was his Age of Certainty.

As Russell Degnan points out in this masterly piece, Ponting represents the last link with one of the greatest teams the world has ever seen, and he was that team's greatest batsman.

Within the next two days his career as a Test cricketer will end. The thoughts of the cricket world go with him.


live score said...

Well Ricky Ponting certainly was a great batsmen and leader for the Aussies he aggressive,ruhless and he was more than a leader for his team mates and the Aussies will certainly miss him in the field.I feel really sorry for him that near his retirement he was not able to perform well and couldn't make his last match a good one for himself and his team as Australia lost the match.Although his era is over but all the cricketing fans will always remember him as one of the gret legends.

Brian Carpenter said...

Agreed, livescore, although I wrote both the Ponting pieces in a bit of a hurry and didn't really go into his faults (mostly personal rater than technical).

Another time, perhaps.

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