Ricky Ponting retires with a record that will stand the test of time

Date: November 30, 2012 / Posted by Glenn Mitchell

Ricky Ponting’s announcement that tomorrow’s first Test will be his last ends one of the greatest careers in Australian, and world, cricket.

It will be his 168th appearance in the baggy green, equalling the record held by the man who preceded him as Test skipper, Steve Waugh.

He had long stated that he had unfinished business in England and that he was keen to return for the Ashes series in the middle of next year but, like many, it appears he felt the writing was on the wall.

Despite performing brilliantly in the Sheffield Shield arena in the lead-in to the current South African series the former skipper has not been able to replicate it against the Proteas attack with scores of 0, 4 and 16.

He revived his career last summer against India with a century in Sydney and a double ton in Adelaide however his performances since have shown that at 38 years of age Father Time is against him.

In a touch of irony, he will play his last Test at the venue at which he played his first.

As a raw 20-year-old he burst onto the scene with a fluent 96 against Sri Lanka in December 1995.

It was the first Test match I commentated and I was sitting next to his parents with radio microphone in hand ready to interview them when their son posted his century on debut.

The milestone was never reached as umpire Kaizer Hyatt gave him out leg before to Chaminda Vaas.

I was convinced from my vantage point at ground level the ball was going to sail well over the stumps.

Upon returning to the commentary box I was vindicated in my thoughts when umpteen replays were shown throughout the afternoon.

Ponting faced a watershed moment early in his international career when he was involved in a drunken altercation outside the Bourbon & Beefsteak Restaurant in Sydney.

The then 21-year-old fronted the media sporting a black eye and copped a three-match suspension from Cricket Australia, whilst admitting to having a problem with alcohol.

It was a problem that he duly overcame as he embarked on a glittering career.

Ponting’s abundant talent was identified at an early age with Cricket Academy chief Rod Marsh proclaiming him the best teenage batsman he had seen.

During the peak of his career he was regularly bracketed alongside Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara as the greatest batsman of his generation.

In his pomp, Ponting was an exhilarating player to watch.

He was particularly fierce on fast bowling with the pull shot one of his major weapons although it tended to be less productive late in his career.

His withering cut shot and back-foot driving were other hallmarks of his repertoire.

A brilliant fieldsman, either at second slip to the quicks or in the ring, where he often struck with a deadly accurate right arm.

Ponting is one of those sportsmen who could have chosen a variety of elite level pursuits in which to excel.

Having got as low as scratch at golf he was equally skilled with an Aussie Rules ball in hand.

There will never be any debate over his place in the pantheon of batting greats but his role as a captain will be much more difficult to rate.

He inherited one of the greatest teams Australia has produced when Waugh retired at the end of the 2003-04 summer.

Through his first 35 Tests at the helm he had a winning percentage of 77.1 compared to Waugh’s 71.9.

But it was at the end of his 35th Test as captain, following the historic 5-nil victory of England, that his team began to dismantle.

Gone in one fell swoop were Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Justin Langer.

In the following 18 months they would be joined by Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Brett Lee and Stuart MacGill.

For Ponting, the job became infinitely harder.

In the end, he led his country at Test level on 77 occasions for a win rate of 62.3% but despite that record he will always be remembered as the captain who lost three Ashes series.

In the one-day arena he was supreme, captaining his country a world record 230 times, winning three consecutive World Cups and boasting a winning percentage of 76.1.

Ponting is to be commended for announcing his retirement today rather than trying to hang on for a farewell and an Australian record 169th appearance in his home state of Tasmania.

Lets’s hope he still has something special up his sleeve over the next five days.

Either way, Ricky Ponting will leave the game with a record that will stand the test of time, with some of the notable achievements including:

  • The second highest Test run aggregate behind Tendulkar, currently 13,366 at 52.2 with 41 centuries
  • The second highest ODI aggregate of 13,704 runs (again behind Tendulkar) at 42.0 with 30 centuries
  • Second highest number of catches by a fieldsman in Test cricket, currently 196, 14 behind Rahul Dravid
  • Six Test double centuries, the second most by and Australian behind Don Bradman (12)
  • Highest Test score of 257 against India at the MCG
  • Highest ODI score of 164 against South Africa at Johannesburg

First published on The Roar – theroar.com.au – on 29 November 2012