As former England captain Alec Stewart said this week: “If Twenty20 is fast food, Test cricket is Michelin-star dining”. I’m with him. Twenty20 gives me indigestion. Test Cricket leaves me licking my lips, and no player has whet my appetite in recent years more than Ricky Ponting.

Belly button laugh… Ponting wasn't always so miserable at the crease

Regardless of the yuletide menu in your household, this Christmas Ricky Ponting risked becoming the turkey and being told to get stuffed. The master craftsman has served up haute cuisine for the best part of two decades. And I’ve devoured his prime cuts. Feasted on his wagon wheel.

But the second-highest run scorer in the history of Test cricket needed to call stumps while we were still chewing on his greatness rather than trying to remove his gristle from between our teeth.

I’m as sad as I am relieved to see him declare for the final time. But like Michael Clarke during the Second Test in Adelaide, that declaration came late. Gilchrist, Langer and McGrath et al knew when their goose was cooked. You could argue that their captain and colleague of many years left his in the oven a little long.

I just hope his extended twilight doesn’t cast a shadow over his halcyon days. It shouldn’t. Ponting simply relished playing cricket for Australia. Who can blame Australia’s highest-ever run scorer for not wanting to relinquish the love of his life?

Unlike some of his younger teammates, Ponting resisted the temptation to buy into body art. But that scar below his right eye from the first Ashes Test at Lords in 2005 will serve as an indelible reminder of the battles he faced in the baggy green.

The former skipper had expressed his desire to play in the next Ashes Series in 2013, so you won’t get very good odds that Punter’s recent poor form was behind his decision to quit. He was no longer a commanding presence at the crease. For one moment I thought he was staking his claim to a coaching career by hitting catching practice.

Perhaps his decomposing baggy green was symbolic. It looks like something the cat sharpened its claws on before doing its proverbial duty and dragging it in. The sweat stains must surely be the only thing keeping the collectors-item together. Ponting has realised that it’s time to put it on the shelf before it falls apart at the seams.

The media was also sharpening its claws. But the only toss this champion gave was to establish who would bat and who would bowl. I admire him for that. What gave us the right to call for his head? If there’s any justice, by the time you read this he’ll be serving up cricketing haute cuisine once again and halfway to a double ton at the WACA.

Then we’ll all eat our words. C’mon, Punter, give us the runs.

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17 comments

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    • Tony says:

      11:16am | 03/12/12

      C,mon Ricky, bring Australia home with a double ton, it would be the greatest knock ever.

    • Baloo says:

      11:19am | 03/12/12

      Was a bit disappointing to hear that the South Africans want to ruin his last test. Sure, try your hardest, but give the man some respect please.
      I’m hoping for something amazing today, I don’t have much to go on but I can still hope.

    • iansand says:

      11:21am | 03/12/12

      I hope he gets a good score tomorrow (after Warner, Watson and Cowan get 150+ each before he bats.

      He deserves to go out on a high.

    • nihonin says:

      12:25pm | 03/12/12

      +1

      Agree totally.

      Yes iansand, I agree with you for a change. wink

    • Stephen T says:

      01:33pm | 03/12/12

      Yes in this we can agree, it would be a nice way for him to go out, as you say he deserves it.

    • Ben C says:

      02:06pm | 03/12/12

      He’s gonna need a good score today, after the first session we’ve just had.

    • iansand says:

      02:35pm | 03/12/12

      And he goes for 8.  It should have been better than that.

    • nihonin says:

      03:37pm | 03/12/12

      It should have been a better ending for him inasand, but he had a great career with the bat.  He, his family and we (the people who followed his career), have that.  smile

    • MK says:

      05:17pm | 03/12/12

      He was Australias best Test Bastmen after Bradman,
      Highest run scorer, and can never take that away for him.
      Truely a remakable bastmen

      I was never a fan of him as a Test captain or much as a person/sport
      I think he should have retired at least a year or two ago
      and honeslty think scores of 4 and 8 are fitting considering how he has played at test level the last couple of years,
      And its also fitting that when he leaves,
      Australia is not the number 1 test nation

    • Ally says:

      11:53am | 03/12/12

      Great display of batting yesterday by the South Africans; some beautiful shots. I thought Brett Lee demonstrated a really unsportsmanlike attitude in his commentary towards the end of the innings when he suggested it would be a good idea to intentionally try to injure the South African tail enders while they were batting so that they wouldn’t be able to bowl properly, if at all, when the Aussies were batting.

      That sort of attitude reminds me why I dislike most members of the Australian team and often choose to barrack for the opposition.

      That said, Ponting deserves to go out on a personal high at least, so I’ll have my fingers crossed for him to do well.

    • Gregg says:

      06:51pm | 03/12/12

      Yes, certainly SA played the better cricket for this match and deserve the win and #1 rating but also just accept Brett’s comment as a bit tongue in cheek, just the way fast bowlers talk and there would not be too many great fast bowlers who do not have more than a bit of belligerence about them, it that red ball fever you could say akin to white line fever when footballers cross the line on to a field of battle and it is not just confined to Australian teams.
      That said, you would be hard pressed to find a nicer fast bowler than Brett.

    • the nothing person says:

      12:18pm | 03/12/12

      John Howard said the Australian Test cricket captaincy was the second hardest job in Australia after the Australian Prime Minister’s job !

      Ricky Ponting was one of the greats of the Australian Cricket world.
      He was good enough. Thats all you need to be.

    • Steve Putnam says:

      02:04pm | 03/12/12

      Best since Chappell G. Best Australian player of fast bowling I’ve seen. Good luck on the punt Rick!

    • Davo says:

      02:06pm | 03/12/12

      After 40 years and endless hours in front of tv, I finally ‘get’ test cricket. I will miss The Punter

    • SLF says:

      02:43pm | 03/12/12

      Awesome player.

      Few players really epitomise Australian cricketing grit. As a kid watching England get flogged mercilessly by tough as nails Aussie cricketers, Ponting is up there with the toughest. He also had supreme talent, the Ponting pull and hook shots are things of rare power and beauty.

      Steve Waugh, Allan Border and Ricky Ponting. Names to be admired, feared and respected in equal measure by opposition bowling attacks.

    • PW says:

      03:30pm | 03/12/12

      At the peak of his powers, Ponting’s average briefly exceeded 60, lofty heights indeed. In recent years it has gradually headed south, to the point where had he continued much longer in his current form, he would have dropped below 50. I suspect this was his impetus to give it away.

      The same problem beset both Allan Border and Steve Waugh towards the end of their careers, and Greg Chappell earned the nickname Chappello late in his career following a long string of ducks. I regard Ponting as the equal but not the better of all of these players as a batsman, but a far inferior captain to Border and somewhat inferior to Waugh.

    • Gregg says:

      03:51pm | 03/12/12

      ” I just hope his extended twilight doesn’t cast a shadow over his halcyon days. It shouldn’t. “
      Well it does and for the sake of Australian cricket he should have retired well before this series in which he has been far from the contributor we have needed.

      Sure he had some great innings and I cannot remember when the last great effort was and he certainly is not up there as far as great captains go either but then Australian selectors have a lot to be blamed for too in just not being more diligent in creating new selections of younger players and staying committed to them rather than staying with the Haddens, Husseys and Pontings and not far behind them you have Clarke already 32 and Watson at 31.

      It would be a miracle if both Clarke and Hussey can hang around for long enough scoring enough runs to give Wade, Hastings and Johnson a show of scraping together an additional 100 or so, a whisker under 500 now required.

 

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