By Praveen Nvs: For a major part of the last two decades, Australia had a fearsome team which mercilessly crushed all the opposition and dominated the world cricket. With the retirement of Ricky Ponting, the last of that bunch of great warriors has fallen.
The farewell match of Ponting ended in one of the worst ever defeats for his team. But such has been the impact of Ponting on cricket that his retirement easily overshadowed every other aspect of the match including a few brilliant individual performances by the South African cricketers.
Towards the end of his career, Ponting struggled miserably with the bat and had a prolonged lean patch but by then, he had already done more than enough to gain entry in to the list of the cricketing legends. Many consider him as Australia’s greatest batsman after the incomparable Sir Don Bradman and it is not for nothing they do so.
He is a prolific run-scorer in both forms of the game. An aggregate of over 13,000 runs each in tests and ODI s speaks volumes about his batting prowess. Along with Dravid and Kallis, he formed the trio of great no.3 s of modern cricket.
Had it not been for the presence of the mighty Tendulkar, who is always at least a mile ahead of his nearest competitor, Ponting might have been the greatest batsman of his generation. Ponting looked small in appearance but earned a massive reputation with his game. From being an in-disciplined Tasmanian child prodigy, he grew rapidly to become a cricketing giant. His journey has been a truly remarkable one. He is undoubtedly a modern day colossus.
His batting always had a classy touch and when in full flow, he was a nightmare to the bowlers but sheer delight to the spectators. He was a magnificent exponent of the pull, a difficult shot to play especially against top quality pacers. There are a number of instances where Ponting’s behaviour was unsportsmanlike but his fierce desire to win was always beyond doubt.
Ponting was not only a great batsman but also a live-wire on the field. He had a stunningly safe pair of hands and took many breath-taking catches. He was one of those very few fielders who hit stumps with great frequency. As a captain, he suffered the ignominy of three Ashes defeats but there were many stupendous successes too including two World cup triumphs.
He always excelled on the big stage. He is the leading run scorer in the World cups after Sachin and his knock of 140 not out which played havoc on India’s plans in the 2003 World cup final was an absolute gem.
Players like Ponting come rarely and are extremely hard to replace. There are a few contenders like Usman Khawaja, Philip Hughes etc but none of them seem promising enough to fill in the great man’s shoes.