As Ricky Ponting made another substantial contribution in test cricket last night, I was quite pleased for him.
I’m English. Surely I shouldn’t be pleased.
But I was. And I’m sure there are many more that were too.
Going back to the Ashes series of 2009 when Australia last toured England, it was part of being an English cricket fan to hope that Ponting failed each time he walked out to the middle. That was just standard practice. Whenever he did depart, it was welcomed with the biggest roar you will hear in the test arena – apart from the one (I imagine) when Sachin eventually makes that hundredth-hundred (Surely he will eventually do it!!).
But as test cricket has changed greatly since Australia were competing at the top of the game, so has my opinion of Ricky, the former skipper of our greatest rivals.
Two weeks ago many people were writing Ponting off. ‘Drop him’ was the cry from many pundits. Even the Australian’s seemed to be losing patience after he had suffered a massive slump in form by his high standards.
Last night, in making his second century in the space of three test matches, at the age of 37, he has more than answered his critics. Surpassing 13,000 test match runs on his way to a superb 137 not out, he is now third in the all time greatest run scorers in that format behind Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar. What great company to have.
In the first test of the series against India, Ponting or Punter as he known to his teammates, scored 60 and 62 respectively as his side won at a canter. In the second he made a stunning 134 to prove to the world that he has many runs in him yet. And then last night, in the fourth test he proved that his 134 wasn’t just a one off as he, along with current skipper Michael Clarke, amassed a staggering 251-run fourth-wicket partnership.
We shouldn’t be surprised though. Ponting, the competitor that he is, was never going to bow out in bad form. In fact, he won’t be bowing out for a long while yet.
This is a man who is the most successful test captain of all time after exceeding the efforts of Steve Waugh, bypassing his previous record of 41 wins while in charge. He guided Australia to 34 consecutive undefeated world-cup wins in the one-day format. Why did we ever doubt him?
In the short term he could well make a double-century when play resumes tonight. In the long term, he may be back in England next summer for one last go at the English. Lets hope the crowds in England aren’t so quick to boo him next time around – Ponting deserves better. He will go down as one of the greatest of all time.