Whatever he serves up today, Ponting’s career was a feast
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.
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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