independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Cricket: Aussie legend Ponting over and out after stellar career

Australian captain Ricky Ponting . Photo: PA

Even the lure of an eighth Ashes series could not prevent Ricky Ponting from calling time on his distinguished international career once he had felt his own high standards had been compromised.

A batsman and captain whose natural instinct was to attack, whatever the situation, he leaves the game as one of its greats and arguably its toughest competitor.

He will play the last of his 168 Tests at the WACA, where it all began in 1995.

Opinion on him has not always been that complimentary. Ponting (pictured) was picked for his first Test at the age of 20. He struggled to cope with the attention and hit the bottle, which resulted in several unseemly incidents.

To his credit, he turned away from that life, finding fulfilment in nurturing his substantial talent. Two years ago he beat Shane Warne's total of Test wins to become the only man in history to be involved in 100 Test victories.

Controversy never really left him, though, and it resurfaced when he inherited the captaincy from Steve Waugh. Transferring the ruthless, uncompromising streak that had fired his batting to maintaining Australia's dominance of world cricket sparked a number of unsavoury episodes. One series against India came close to being called off and there were calls for him to be sacked.

Once again he adjusted, ameliorating his win-at-any-cost policy – some say to his and Australia's detriment after they lost the 2005 Ashes, their first defeat to England for 18 and a half years.

That Ashes defeat was the first of three he suffered as the team's leader, the most by an Australian captain. He also won one, 5-0, in 2006-07, which had been done only once before.

Overall, he led Australia to 47 Test victories and 34 consecutive wins in World Cup matches, an incredible record. His 41 Test hundreds and 30 one-day hundreds put him second behind Sachin Tendulkar's combined total of 100 centuries.

At 37, he could have played on and his Test average since handing over to Michael Clarke 18 months ago is decent enough, at 41.7 from 25 Test innings. But, as he said, he had been "falling at the big moments" and that, for a man who prided himself on staring down trouble, was unacceptable. (© Independent News Service)

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