Ponting was a streetfighter, a panto villain… and a true great
20:19 GMT, 29 November 2012
This is good news for England. Ricky Ponting still had the potential to score big runs, even though he hadn’t done that for a while, and his retirement adds a bit more weight to England’s Ashes chances.
I’m not saying England should be breathing a sight of relief now Ponting has gone but this means another younger player will have to come into the Aussie side for the Ashes and there are not too many knocking on the door.
Ponting was right up there with the best. While Brian Lara was a genius and Sachin Tendulkar, Jacques Kallis and Rahul Dravid almost machine-like in their run scoring, Ricky was a bit more human, if you like.
Fierce competitor: Ricky Ponting was so stung by Australia's 2005 Ashes loss that he masterminded a 5-0 whitewash over a hapless England
He had some off-field issues — like that night he got himself in a fight in a Sydney bar and admitted to a drink problem — and he was more of a streetfighter than the other greats, a real scrapper who loved a battle.
When he was on top of his game, Ponting’s hand-eye co-ordination was incredible. In my day bowlers like Andy Caddick, Angus Fraser and Alex Tudor would bowl a natural length and he would just pull them dismissively. Other batsmen would have played a defensive shot.
I would see the looks on the bowlers’ faces, of sheer disbelief, and they would try to bowl fuller at Ponting and then he would just smack it back past them.
Yet at times, with his huge backlift, he looked vulnerable to the moving ball.
Ponting was very popular among his team-mates and a captain for whom players loved performing. But he was not the greatest of tacticians.
Calling it a day: Ponting holds some remarkable records, including most test victories as captain, most runs by an Australian, most centuries by an Australian and most consecutive test victories by a captain
Ponting was more of a Graham Gooch type, a captain who led from the front, and for a while the shadow of Shane Warne, who really was astute, hung over him.
After Ponting had wrongly decided to bowl first at Edgbaston in 2005, when Warne had advised him to bat, Ponting was always chasing the game tactically.
Ponting became a pantomime villain in England, probably after that time at Trent Bridge when he started chuntering at Duncan Fletcher after Gary Pratt had run him out, but I think the public liked the fact he could be vulnerable. He was clearly a decent and honest guy.
Way back when: Ponting (second left) celebrates as Nasser is bowled by Andy Bichel at Adelaide in 2002
We had our moments as opponents. There is a tape somewhere that a stump mic picked up of Ponting launching into me after I had clashed with Glenn McGrath — I might have made a comment about Ricky’s size in return — but that was what he did. He would always back up his players and I had absolute respect for that. It was never aimless and he would be the first opponent to say well done after you had made a score against him.
He deserves a great last Test.