Fair’s fair. We’ve dished it out to Ricky Ponting on several occasions over the summer, but it’s now time for a backflip. Because love him or hate him, Ponting is responsible for arguably the most incredible winning streak in the history of Australian sport. And for the next 24 hours at least, that streak is still alive.

His family loves him, maybe we should too. Pic: Cameron Richardson.

As of last weekend, Australia has gone 31 World Cup matches without defeat. The closest we’ve come to a loss since we came good halfway through the 1999 World Cup was that famous tied semi final against South Africa. The chaos. The confusion. The sheer joy of seeing South African nerves turn to mush.

Ponting is the one man has been there through all 31 matches. In fact, he was there long before then, making a respectable 45 in the 1996 final loss to Sri Lanka. And here he is 15 years later, much-maligned and in decline, but still, for now, the man with a record the envy of every World Cup captain.

Ponting first captained a team to the World Cup in 2003. Steve Waugh had been dumped, Shane Watson was injured, and Shane Warne was banned at the last minute for raiding his mum’s medicine cabinet.

Ponting campaigned strongly for the desperately out-of-form Andrew Symonds, and succeeded in getting his man. The media savaged the selection, and Ponting’s arse was well and truly in the frypan. If Symonds failed, the Steve Waugh brigade would have double the anger, and double the ammo.

But Symonds delivered against Pakistan in the first match, belting 143 not out in a tone-setter for the rest of the tournament. Australia went through unbeaten, and Ponting himself scored a brilliant 140 not out in the final, with eight sixes.

Everyone always rates Gilly’s 149 in the final four years later as the great World Cup final innings, but for mine, Ponting’s was just as good. A nod too, to Ricky’s mate Damien Martyn, who made 88 not out.

Ponting cops flak in relation to his predecessors Steve Waugh and Mark Taylor, because he appears to lack Taylor’s tactical nous and Waugh’s ability to unify a team and bring out the best in its players.

These barbs have validity in Test cricket, but there’s something about the 50 over game which has always brought out the best in Ponting. Individually, he has a great record, with 13,000 odd runs at an average of 42, with 29 centuries. Plus he patrols the infield like a leopard.

But it’s as a captain that he’s really shone in 50 over cricket. Fringe players like Brad Hogg, and Shaun Tait, and even Andy Bichel, became serious contributors under his wing.

Statistically, Ponting’s winning percentage of 75 per cent is incredible in a game which is often decided at the toss, and where all major nations win between 45 and 65 per cent of their games over the long term.

Somehow, some way, Ponting the captain has stayed way, way ahead of 50 over cricket’s statistical curve. How ironic that this is a form of the game on the wane, and which may one day be extinct.

Ponting’s greatest cricketing feats might soon be consigned to the statistical scrap heap, and he’ll forever be remembered as the guy who could bat like a god, but captained three Ashes losses (never mind the 5-0 Ashes win in the middle there).

That’d be sad. Because Ponting deserves recognition for his 50 over feats. And if the pepole turn on him on Sunday, in the very feasible scenario we lose to a red hot Sri Lanka in Colombo tomorrow, well, that would be spite for spite’s sake.

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17 comments

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    • TChong says:

      05:05am | 04/03/11

      Young Ricky is in great company , a pantheon of champs- The Cricketers, West Tigers, Collingwood and The Waratahs.
      Alls right in the world.
      Timmy B- hows the CB Doggies looking this morning ?

    • TimB says:

      07:43am | 04/03/11

      You talking about Ryan Tandy?

      If he’s guilty, he’s guilty. Toss him.

      My loyalty is to the club first, and I’ll support the players so long as they share that loyalty.

      They do something wrong, I’ll be the first to condemn them.

    • TimB says:

      07:49am | 04/03/11

      PS. Didn’t the Tigers lose the final last year? Hardly champs

      They let me down Chongy. Now I can’t mock St George supporters with the chokers tag anymore. It’s a sad day.

    • Jim says:

      09:24am | 04/03/11

      Oh Chongy…you’re not a Tigers fan are you?????

      How many soccer-dives will Cap’n Farah make this year???

    • Macca says:

      06:44am | 04/03/11

      RIcky Ponting’s record as captain is significantly better than Allan Borders. People will argue he had a far greater team, but I reckon most would have AB higher up the chain in terms up regard.

      Some would say that Ponting is the worst test Captain Australia has had. That is unfair, but it’s a mythology that will likely persist well into Ponting’s retirement

      Punter is the best Australian batsman I have ever seen. That much I will remember.

    • S.L says:

      08:08am | 04/03/11

      A.B had to pick up the pieces after Kim Hughes. Ponting inherited a winning team from 2 of the most successful captains of the modern era. That is the ONLY reason why his record looks better on paper. Captain Grumpy was the architect of the succes we had up until recently. He can afford to be arrogant if he wishes. Ponting can’t!

    • MK says:

      12:38pm | 06/03/11

      Some would say that Ponting is the worst test Captain Australia has had.
      and they’d be correct,
      the myth is that he was ever a good captain, Fielding and strategy started heaing south after waugh left,
      Slowly at first possibly as ponitng lacked the confindece to change things, but it’s beena consistent trend down, and he has kept very talented players off the team with the only One D##khead on the team policy. The actual effect of the captain is not merely wins and losses but the change in the team, .

    • Luke says:

      08:50am | 04/03/11

      Get A Room Sharwood!!!

    • Gurusinha says:

      08:53am | 04/03/11

      Red Hot Sri Lanka? are you watching the same world cup?

    • Fingers says:

      09:25am | 04/03/11

      Ponting cops a lot of flack for his seemingly lack of tactical nouse. At times he has made silly decisions on the field that’s had me yelling at the tele - however over all he will go down as a great Australian cricketer. An absolute top shelf batsman - the best Australian batsman I’ve ever seen pick up the willow and a captain with an outstanding record. He’s the last of the old school scrappers - brought up in the tough era of early 90’s grade and shield cricket and brought that into his international career. Punter is a champion batsman and has brought much joy to me and no doubt many others over the years with stirring victories on the back of some of the best innings you’re ever likely to see.

    • Shifter says:

      10:33am | 04/03/11

      No denying his batting talent, but if you’d imagine the ACB hadn’t ‘anointed’ him the next captain when he was 16, then we may have had a better test run of recent, or more emphasis on T20.

      Imagine if Warne of Gilchrist took over when Waugh retired. You’d be able to hand on to Clarke (shudder) or White with comparative ease, who have both shown to be more capable at lifting the standards of players.

    • rufus says:

      09:59am | 04/03/11

      Ponting must be thanking his lucky stars that England has been Ireland’s bunny this time, and not Australia.

      That win by Ireland, a team full of nobodies, was the stuff of kid’s dreams on one hand, but on the other hand shows what a lottery limited overs cricket can be.

    • stephen says:

      10:13am | 04/03/11

      I want a Cricket Captain once, when he’s being interviewed, to not shrug shoulders and say..’ well I expect, or I hope or I want, or maybe next time,..shrugs shoulders again, and someone behind us moves which diverts his meagre attention…then he scratches his nose…shrugs shoulders, laughs and says…
      “Now is the time of our bitter miscontent..”
      Nah, just jokin.
      I wouldn’t expect that of Ponting. He’s like a puppy that turns his head this way and that to follow the noises in his head.
      World Cricket..Hey,Hey.

    • Shifter says:

      10:14am | 04/03/11

      Hoggie? Fringe player? George dominated the one day arena and shall be one day knighted for his artful public displays of his tongue.

      If he still had the cricketing fire in his belly he’d probably be at this world cup given the spinning stocks of Australia. At 40 he’s still one of the fittest guys running around.

    • Mark says:

      11:49am | 04/03/11

      Nice one Anthony, it is an incredible achievement, here’s hoping we continue the streak all the way to the final, allowing Ponting the most incredible platform from which to retire. Go Ponting!!!

    • mmr 4/3/11 says:

      06:10pm | 04/03/11

      Ricki Ponting is lucky he plays for international cricket minnows Australia.
      He wouldn’t get a game with Ireland.
      Kevin O’Brien , an Irish batsman, scored a century against England in 50 balls.
      Ponting took a whole season to score 100 runs in total against England

    • mmr 4/3/11 says:

      06:20pm | 04/03/11

      Hasn’t Ricki Ponting retired yet? Is he 65 yet?

 

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