Category: Ricky Ponting (page 1 of 6)

Batting aggression does not require actual aggression


That’s a straightforward message for Ricky Ponting and all who would make a similar defence of David Warner’s behaviour. Read it, accept that it is a fact and then go away and think through the issues again, Ricky.

Ponting’s latest column for Cricinfo features the following assumption, stated as fact.

“The Australian public love the way he bats, which goes hand in hand with the sort of confrontational approach he sometimes takes in the field.”

Is that so? Aggressive batting and argumentative fielding go hand in hand, do they? Why must the way a person behaves while fielding have a direct link to the way they bat several hours later (or earlier)?

Batsmen don’t come much more aggressive than Virender Sehwag, but we can’t really recall him charging from slip to square up to an opposition batsman.

Or how about Chris Gayle? Does he lose his rag with the opposition every chance he gets in a bid psych himself up for batting? No, of course not. He can’t be bothered. Truth is, even his ‘aggressive’ batting is characterised by a placid, nonchalant demeanour.

But it’s different for Warner. He plays with a passion unimaginable to Sehwag, Gayle, De Villiers, Jayasuriya or whoever. He’s special, and to ensure he remains special, Warner is obliged to act like an arsehole. His confrontational approach goes hand in hand with his batting, after all.

This is why Warner has to be involved in a road rage incident every time he passes a cyclist while driving; this is why he has to threaten supermarket staff when can’t find his favourite brand of coffee; and this is why he has to kick a plastic cup full of loose change halfway down the street when a tramp has the temerity to laugh at him for tripping on a kerb.

Learning, reacting, chopping, changing and Ponting

It may feel like Australia lost the series against Pakistan 4-0, but actually it was only two. No matter how you play, you can’t lose more than two matches when you only play two.

This has allowed Michael Clarke to somewhat disingenuously plead that his captaincy shouldn’t be judged on the basis of two Tests. People will be quick to draw his attention to last year’s 4-0 defeat to India, which is perhaps what he wants as such talk distracts from his batting form.

The truth is that Clarke’s got away with a 2-0 defeat. He can pretend that Australia might have bounced back were they playing a third Test, but history tends to suggest that learning is more than outweighed by the negative effects of reacting whenever Australia start losing.

“We’re learning,” they say. “Look!”

But changing isn’t the same as improving.

The captain’s view

Ricky Ponting’s main redeeming feature as a captain was that he was plain-speaking. He always erred on the side of blunt honesty and had an unusual predilection for answering the questions asked of him.

But there is quite some distance between being open and honest as an international cricket captain and being open and honest as a columnist. The former is like being the least annoying daytime Radio 1 DJ. You’re the least bad of a group that’s pretty much defined by one negative characteristic.

It is therefore no surprise to see that Ponting’s first column for Cricinfo is fairly banal. He still knows those involved, so his criticism is qualified and weak. You have to read between the lines a bit and magnify some of what he’s saying to interpret his true meaning.

When Ponting says that “a lot of what I saw was a bit frenetic, a bit fast,” then maybe – just maybe – he’s talking about Australia’s number three reverse sweeping his way to 37 off 28 balls in a match in which the opposition’s just posted 570-6 with one guy making a double hundred.

Glenn Maxwell at three – but what would have been next?

The selection of Glenn Maxwell to bat at number three might rank as one of the greatest cricketing decisions of all time. In this context, we’re using ‘greatest’ to mean ‘inexplicable and hilarious’.

But all we can think about is what might have happened next.

If this series had run on, who knows where Australia might have ended up. If you’re picking Maxwell at three by the second Test, what do you do when you’ve lost four on the bounce? The team physio, Alex Kontouris, must have harboured serious hopes of opening the bowling if there had been such a match.

Playing a five Test series when all you can do is lose is like being asked to build an elaborate timber framed home when the only tools you’ve got are a spoon and a spatula. It’s a painful, humiliating farce, but every day you have to turn up for work and do your best and then explain your progress to the client afterwards.

If you ever have to go through this, the after-effects are huge. There’s no hiding place. You had ample opportunities to do a good job so if all you managed was abject failure, you have to answer for that. By slinking off after two Tests, the Australian team has minimised the damage.

The moral of the story

Your averages, captain, coaches and players can probably survive incompetence over a relatively short series, so if you’re going to be rubbish against someone, make sure it’s Pakistan, Sri Lanka, New Zealand or someone.

Ricky Ponting’s batting tips

Mumbai Indians are currently benefiting from Ricky Ponting’s expertise and Surrey will be getting a few top tips shortly when he arrives to play for them.

Don’t believe us? Ask Dinesh Karthik:

“Some of the things that he says in team meetings and some of the points he brings to the fore is really hair-raising.”

Is they? What kinds of things is he saying to raise your hair?

“The other day I had a doubt and I walked up to him. All he said was that if you see the ball and think you can hit it, you hit it. That, I thought was a very positive input and the one I really liked.”

From this article, which was brought to our attention by Cric-O-Fan.

Building a cricket team Surrey style

Ricky Ponting’s signed for Surrey. He also got fined the other day for throwing his bat after being dismissed. Mindlessly throwing the bat is how one or two Surrey batsmen approach first-class cricket, so he should fit in well.

About this time last year, there were a stack of articles about how exciting everything was at Surrey, about how they had all this young talent and how the glory days were about to return.

If Surrey do have some sort of ‘vision’ it is one where they keep placing fivers on the table until good players snatch them up and come and play for them.

There’s nothing wrong with this approach – in fact there’s little point having the money if you aren’t going to do anything with it – but it does make talk of ‘building a side’ and ‘investing in youth’ sound just a little bit hollow.

Yes, Surrey doubtless are coaching their youngsters hoping that they’ll become future greats, but they simply don’t have as much vested in this process as other counties because over the last year or so they’ve imported:

  • Graeme Smith
  • Ricky Ponting
  • Kevin Pietersen
  • Vikram Solanki
  • Steven Davies
  • Gareth Batty
  • Jon Lewis
  • Gary Keedy
  • Chris Tremlett

Every county imports a few players, but the above isn’t a million miles away from being some sort of county superteam. Even with nine players.

Ricky Ponting’s batting average and face

We choose to remember him this way

Take a look at this face. Tell us you don’t instantly hate that face. You could pretty accurately track the progress of Ricky Ponting’s career by our opinion of his face at various points in time.

It started badly. He made his first Test hundred in his first Ashes innings after Australia had been 50-4, so basically there was a strong desire for smug smile removal from the outset. However, it wasn’t until around 2005 or 2006 that we wanted to plant our fist in his face with the most force.

Was the 2005 Ashes the turning point?

We can’t quite work it out. He’d hit six hundreds in 18 innings in 2003, en route to a higher plane of obnoxiousness and he arrived in England in 2005 with us feeling much the same about him. Looking back, we’re aware that the more Ponting’s Australia lost, the more we warmed to him, but we’re not entirely convinced this phenomenon was really all that noticeable following this series.

Maybe the first intimations of likeable qualities had been identified, but it can’t have meant much as it was only a year later that England were mullered in Australia. This was also when Ponting’s batting average reached its peak of 59.99 after scoring 142 in that bloody Adelaide Test.

Ricky Ponting’s batting average

Let’s try and forget just how fantastically irritating Ricky Ponting could be for a minute and instead consider that average. He retires with an average of 52.21, which is amazing, but leaves him immediately behind Mohammad Yousuf and with a fair few others above him. Had he retired in 2006, he would have been fifth. Crucially, he would also have played 53 Tests more than the most capped player above him.

That speaks of astonishingly prolonged consistency. That Adelaide hundred was his seventh of 2006 in eight Tests up until that point. Make no mistake, Ricky Ponting is a driven and extremely talented man.

Then what?

Then he went downhill a bit. Like many great batsmen, he probably had more confidence in himself than was actually warranted. That protective delusion is what gets them through the tough times, but it’s also what can keep them hanging around, oblivious to the fact that everyone’s enthusiastically clouding the vicinity with liberal quantities of Febreze.

This is when he won us over a bit though. He was a captain and a player who’d never really encountered tough times before, cricket-wise, and it was admirable to see that he wasn’t a shirker.

His limitations as a captain were being exposed and his batting was deteriorating, but in a way this highlighted other qualities. The man is resilient and he feels a sense of duty. He’s also fairly plain-speaking and honest and he loves cricket.

So, it turns out Ricky Ponting isn’t a complete tool. It’s just that he managed to keep this fact concealed from us for the first 14 years of his career.

Some more stuff about Ricky Ponting

Here are some links that we can’t be bothered working into the main text. Don’t feel you have to read them, but they might be welcome if you’re avoiding doing work.

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