Ponting, it’s time to hang up your boots mate!
Once a legend, Ricky Ponting appears to be a shadow of his former self now.
There was a time when bowlers would shudder and captains would hold their heads in their hands as this man would walk in. Ricky ‘Punter’ Ponting was at one time the most feared one-down in the game.
After the carnage left by the Australian top order, Ponting would just hurt the bowling side more. He would upper cut or pull with contempt anything short from fast bowlers, dismissing the deliveries with disdain from his presence towards the boundaries. If it was full, he would drive. Even spinners rarely stemmed the run flow. He was a majestic sight to behold, an artist at his best, painting canvas after canvas which left the audience in awe.
But those days have passed. He is no longer a 20-something-years-old without fear. At 36 years-old, the body tends to slacken a bit and the reflexes become that much slower.
He is no longer the force he used to be. Seven years ago he stroked a masterful 257 against India at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). A graceful innings that was! But in his latest outing at the MCG he was able to just manage 30 runs in two innings and was unable to inspire his team resulting in him becoming the second Australian captain to lose the Ashes urn thrice. The only thing of note he did in that match was to get fined after arguing with umpires over a dismissal. Apparently, he saw an edge when there was none. Ponting appears to be a shadow of his former self.
Ponting has been the most successful captain to ever play Test cricket. He is the only player to have participated in 99 test wins. As an One Day International (ODI) captain, he has successfully defended two World Cup titles, without losing a single game, and will get a chance to try his luck again the third time come February. Ponting became the third Australian cricketer to have gone past the mark of 10,000 runs in test cricket after Border and Waugh and then overtook them as his country’s leading run scorer.
But, such is Australian-England rivalry that his legacy will always remain as a captain who lost the Ashes thrice. Technically he lost the urn twice and failed to regain it the third time (mind you that he did regain the ashes inflicting a whitewash on England in 2007).
Sportsmen rarely go out when they should. Only a few leave when they are on a high while the rest find it difficult to give up the game they so love and have devoted their whole life to. Boxing fans would remember Muhammad Ali’s last heavyweight championship fight against Larry Holmes. Ali lost badly to Holmes. It wasn’t that he lost. It wasn't that he couldn’t still box. What was truly heartbreaking was that he still believed he was the same Ali. So is the case with Ponting.