Whilst we enjoyed England’s Ashes triumph over the winter as much as any long suffering England fan, the continued demonisation of Ricky Ponting by some of our fellow supporters left us a bit non-plussed and even a little queasy.
That’s not to say that we didn’t take some pleasure in seeing Ponting’s own struggles with the bat as the likes of Anderson and Tremlett executed their bowling plans to the Australian captain to absolute perfection.
But our gratification was all to do with our fear and respect for Ponting as the best Australian batsman since Bradman – we’d seen him punish England attacks too many times to not be wary of his talent.
However, we got the impression that the attitude of some England fans to Ponting bordered on hatred rather than fear and we found that a little bit disappointing and worryingly similar to the neanderthal behaviour exhibited by some of those that follow football.
Whilst Ponting’s competiveness and frustration at his own and his team’s woeful performances got the better of him in the unseemly row with Aleem Dar in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG, we couldn’t help but be impressed with the way he continued to front up to the cameras as the chasm between the sides widened. Not many cricketers would have been as honest, forthright and low on futile excuses as Ponting.
So, we will be willing him on to do well in the forthcoming Test series in Sri Lanka – his first since relinquishing the captaincy and wouldn’t be surprised to see him have a similar Indian summer in the autumn of his career to that of Sachin Tendulkar and now also Rahul Dravid.
It has been reported recently that on Australia’s brief tour to India last autumn, Ponting encouraged Dravid to forget his poor form and put any thoughts of retirement to the back of his mind. Since then Dravid has embarked on a golden run that of course culminated in his quite brilliant solo performances in England this summer.
It would therefore be almost perfect symmetry for Ponting to do something similar and show the world once again the master batsman he undoubtedly is. Lest it not be forgotten, Ponting is the third highest run scorer in Test history (Dravid having gone past him this summer).
With the cares of the captaincy cast aside (his decline with the bat mirrored the downturn in Australia’s fortunes), who would bet against him providing a lead to the younger batsmen and inspiring Australia on the long road to recovering its status within the ultimate form of the game?
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