time for Ricky Ponting
By Bernie Wijesekera
The Australian team who will be here next month under dynamic Ricky
Ponting who will be leading the Aussie Test team for first time
after the retirement of Steve Waugh. He made his test debut against
Sri Lanka in 1996 in Perth, It could have been a dream debut for
Ricky , but when he was on 96 he was given out leg-before off Vaas.
He has proved his mettle as a one-day captain. Ponting led the team
from the front by example. The tour here is no picnic for him. Aussies
will find the Lankans hard to confront in their own backyard. After
a gruelling series against India though tiring, the players have
the skill and stamina to give the Sri Lankans a good run with their
grit and determination.
hails from a cricketing stock. His uncle Greg Campbell played for
Australia as a fast bowler. His father who served the Tasmanian
staff is an ardent supporter of the game and a source of inspiration,
to his son. Ponting played for Tasmania as a teenager and learnt
much from David Boon also a Tasmanian test player his cricketing
a nimble-footed batsman was a rage since he started playing for
Tasmania. He possessed freakish talent. At the age of 16 he was
ushered into the Academy - youngest entrant as a future test prospect.
After his graduation, he was in the Tasmanian team in 1992- '93,
and proved an instant success and never looked back since then.
the age of 20, he gave notice of his batting skills against Sri
Lanka in 1995-'96 season. He made 84 n.o., in the four -day match
at Lauceston and followed up with 131 n.o., in the second innings.
This prompted Aussie selection panel to send Peter Taylor to make
his observations. He enjoyed a rollicking season in the Sheffield
making an awe-inspiring start he was dumped from the team. The selectors
thought that his form was poor. His exile did good to restore his
temperament. His omission put him in a spin after this lay-off.
His axing did well to sharpen him. It did. On the Ashes tour after
being ignored for the S. African tour in 1997 Ponting was overlooked
for the first three tests, but came back with a bang - a determined
126 n.o., in the fourth test when Australia was struggling at 4
for 50. He erased all past memories making a century on a pitch
that was most troublesome to the batsmen.
then he has never looked back. Ponting had the audacity and a wide
range of shots on either side of the wicket. He could adjust himself
to the conditions and bat even on a dust bowl which takes plenty
of turn. Pointing was the only player in both Australian teams and
captained on the shorter game. He proved an instant success and
led by example. He won great admiration from his team mates on a
number of occasions and dug Australia out of trouble.
played in the shadow of Steve Waugh as captain and has learnt much
from him to emerge as a shrewed leader for the future. For the first
time he will be leading both teams in the forthcoming tour to Sri
Lanka next month for a three-test series and five one-dayers. The
splitting of both teams and captains raises the question as there
a danger of paying, too much credence to the one-day game, Sri Lanka,
too followed the Aussies.
Tissera the former Sri Lanka skipper said, 'Once Steve Waugh retires
there will never again be a two captain force . It will be Ricky
Ponting. Has met Geoff Marsh at home and abroad. He is a good reader
of the game, commands respect and totally committed as coach. He
attributes Ponting's rise to fame due to his self belief and hard
work. No one works harder than Ponting. It should do well that our
youngsters take note of whilst watching him on this tour. Besides
his batting he's a brilliant fielder - in the mould of a Jonty Rhodes.
Both Ponting and Rhodes attributes their success to be brilliant
and agile fielders due to their own hard work at the nets or otherwise.
will be one to watch and admire on this tour. He showed immense
leadership qualities. This was mentioned by the likes of Bob Simpson,
Ian Chappell and his coach Rod Marsh, has got the challenge now
to lead the team in the established game, and proved it in the shorter
game. In the forthcoming three-test series this will be his first
baptism away from home playing under varying conditions. He has
shown his mettle as one of the best batsmen and the best fielder
in the world. He will be leading the best team in the world, too.
has had his own problems on and off the field. But one can't take
away Ponting's aggressive approach to the game be it as batsman
where he has proved in the just concluded series at home against
India. That's how the Aussies play test cricket and bring more life
than a mere drawl. Ponting must have learnt the diplomatic skills
to lead the team under pressure from his predecessors Mark Taylor
and Steve Waugh.
Lankans are no pushover side in their own backyard despite confronting
the World champions. The Aussies are quite aware if one went by
the past performances. They will have to face a physchological battle
against 'Murali'. But they may have done their homework well in
advance. To make it a keen contest our top order batsmen must bat
with responsibility and play a long innings unlike against England.
Aussie attack has variety with the possible return of Shane Warne.
The prevailing conditions with bright sunshine, humid and dry weather
is ideal for cricket. With nimble-footed Ponting to lead and in
terrific form the batting looks sound with the top order among the
runs. Watch out for a batting fiesta.