Tag Archives: ricky ponting

Generation Ricky

My own emotional development as an adult seems to run parallel with Ricky Ponting’s career. As he was the cricketer who took me from my teens into my 30s. When he started playing in the sickly green of Tasmania, I was just a gorky teenager, when he walked off the WACA for the last time, I was holding my newborn son in my arms.

He was, for better or worse, the player of my generation. The player who was always there as a young kid or an old bloke. The one who’s game I knew as well as the Marge versus the Monorail episode of the simpsons or the Epping Train line I grew up on. I obsessed over Ponting’s batting like you do when you’re a teenager. I told my friends he would became a great number three for Australia. I tried to bat like him. I supported him when he played against Australia for Australia A. He was Tricky Ricky to me and my friends, and we all waited impatiently for him to become a great.

Most Australians guys of my age wanted to be Steve Waugh. Yet most of them were more like Ponting. Quick to anger, slow to mature, unforgiving, prickly, uncomplicated, aggressive and honest.

So honest that his face would tell you everything you wanted to know. A Ponting press conference was often redundant, a series of close ups throughout the day had given you everything you needed to know. Ponting gave great face from the time he was a cocky young kid who was one of the last to give up the helmet, until he walked out onto the WACA trying to pretend it was business as usual to bat one more time.

As a batsman, and fielder, Ricky was something I just instantly fell for.

His batting was also easy to read. His shots were crisp and final. The ball was delivered, the ball was hit. The only time his batting looked fussy was when he spent time playing with the pitch. The delicate way he could pick off some loose bit of grass that only he could see. That double hand slaps he would give at anything that had floated onto his surface. Or the double tap at the pitch he would do with his right hand. His fielding was just as final as his batting, everything he did was final and clean, and often brilliant. In the field he also had the spit in the hands followed by a deep rub together, like his saliva was somehow more adhesive than everyone elses. And considering his fielding, maybe it is.

That’s what you notice when you see a guy as a young man, and you follow him until he becomes an old man. You don’t get what with a player you first saw when you were 8, or 28. It’s different then.

I was old enough to get cricket when Ricky came around, and once he came around, I knew this was a player for me. Forget that his drives looked like gut punches and his pull shots were balletic artistry. It was what his batting stood for. Ponting didn’t bat for records, milestones or adulation, he batted to win.
The great batsmen are often selfish creatures who would run out their children if it meant they get to continue doing what they do best. That wasn’t Ricky, when people talk about him being an all time great, and comparing him to Lara, Tendulkar or Kallis, if it’s done purely on stats he can’t compete. Lara batted for the adulation of the masses, Kallis because it’s what he does and Sachin Tendulkar just bats because he loves batting. Their batting selfishness is what makes them great players.

Ponting bats like a team player. His style was closer to self-immolation than selfishness. If Ponting had to play a big shot to get things going, then he played it. It was simple, and very Ponting like. The team comes first, second and third, so that the team only comes first.

Kallis moved down the order to number four, and Tendulkar never moved to three, they did it because it would produce more runs for them. Four is an easier position to bat. Lara stayed at number three because that is the ego seat. Ponting stayed at three, for as long as his skills allowed it, because at three he had the most say in the game. That is why he batted.

Every time Ponting entered the field he had had to control the game. He made to move it forward, he had to make sure his team were in a better position than they were before, he had to win.

All professional athletes like to win. Most love to win. But for players like Ponting, it was almost a sickness. At it’s best it drove him to be one of the best batsmen of a generation, and one of his greatest cricketers. A hard nosed professional with the skills of a champion and the fight of a battler. At it’s worst he made him a sulky brat who couldn’t understand why he ever had to go through losing.
Winning and losing also define him far more than the other greats. No one ever blames Kallis for South Africa’s underachievements. Ponting won more Tests than any other human being, but by the end it was the losses that defined him.
In batting he channeled all that rage to become a great. In captaincy the rage ate him up and he became a bore.

As a captain I never liked Ponting.

Captains are like politicians, you either intrinsically feel like they’re right for you, or you don’t. And I spent years moaning or mocking Ponting as captain. I moaned as 13th men annoying him in the Ashes, misuse of bowlers, the team Australia bubble, his part in the Monkeygate Test, and when he almost had a mental breakdown in the middle of the MCG during his last Test as captain when he thought he could see the hotspot mark from 120 metres better than an umpire staring at a screen inches from his face. I’ve called him the hairy-armed troll, been so angry at him I could have broken a changeroom TV and hurled abuse at him from beyond boundaries in 3 continents.

Our one sided relationship was never at its best when he was captain, only when he was batting.

Yet in the wider world the angrier and grumpier Ponting got, the more iconic he became. A hero and leader under pressure to those at home, a villain and bully to those away. A very Australian cricketer.

Ponting could have played on, even with his bad form, the selectors may have given him a Test against Sri Lanka to prove himself just because of who he is. And against a failing one-man attack like Sri Lanka, he might have made enough runs to make it to India, his batting Hades. But he seemed to know that he just wasn’t good enough to help Australia win matches anymore. And that would have been worse to him than knowing his skills were on the wane.

Ponting announced his retirement the day my son was born. While my wife was in agony, I was thinking about how I would explain an entire lifetime of living with Ricky to him.

I’d definitely tell him about his scratchy 88 batting at number three against Courtney and Curtly, every detail of being at the Wanderers for the 03 final, the last over of a List A game I saw him get smashed for 21 runs, that he everyone said he was a good footy player, that he once was the face of Milk in Tasmania, watching him make a half century in his first Test knock at the G, the 257 he produced there years later and the many fuck you hundreds he made when he was at his most angry at the world. But mostly I’ll tell him that despite how I loved Ricky as a batsman, and hated him as a captain, that he was the player I grew up with.

Not my favourite, but the player that was always there. And when my son gets bored of me going on about this old cricketer he’s never seen, I’ll just play him a collection of his pullshots that I’ve found on the internet.

Every generation has their own players, and while I may prefer Trumper, O’Reilly or Harvey, Ponting is mine. To me his batting says more about Australia than the flag, national anthem, Australia day or even the baggy green.

Ponting is the Australia I grew up in. But it’s now just a memory that an old man will tell a young boy.

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Ricky Ponting at the dogs

Ricky Ponting is still playing international cricket. So a testimonial seems like an odd thing to do.

Instead here is a video of Ricky Ponting with Ben Affleck hair and his goatee.

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Australian Cricket Ad Theatre: Ponting’s Pills

This is the first in our season of Australian cricket ad theatre. Cricket ads have long been some of the most captivating 30 seconds of entertainment ever viewed. Who will forget MS Dhoni’s stunning portrayal of Bhajji, Craig Kieswetter pouring a white liquid on his bare chest, or Shane Watson getting wet hair as Aaron Finch looked on. You won’t, because Cricket Ads aren’t like normal ads, they stay with you forever until one day when you’re dribbling from a forgotten nursing home you’ll just endlessly be whispering, Advance hair, yeah yeah.

For the 2011/12 season the Australians have put on a bumper crop of ads that showcase the very best in crickertainment, and where else to start but with Ponting’s pills.

Nothing shows that vitamins work more than having a fit pro athlete walk deliberately through a cricket ground. But this series of ads is more than just a slow purposeful walk; it’s a wistful recollection of deeds that Ponting has achieved. The only problem is that Ponting is so wistful, so sepia toned, and the INXS’ never tear us apart is so loud that you get little more than mumblings of something that sounds like it was very dear to Ponting’s heart. Or the ghost writer’s.

In one ad he mentions the number 200, in another, the number 13. Everything is else sort of lost as he moves slowly.

Ofcourse this ad isn’t about words, it’s about the scarf that Ponting wears. What a thick lustrous piece of reddish wool knitted together with care this is. It seems to wrap around his neck 17 times in one of the ads. Why is he wearing a scarf in an ad aimed at the summer market? Well it’s obvious really.

The scarf says it all, it transcends cricket and vitamins, it speaks straight to society as a whole as we all move into an awkward and terrifying future together. Ponting is just a man, he has achieved much, and he can look back at his childhood mullet and his parents in the stands with fond memories, but you still need to face the future. He may not be the Ricky of old, but his vulnerability, as highlighted by the scarf, makes us feel like he is one of us. Just an ordinary person who needs a big thick scarf.

We all look back at what we have done, and try and make sense of it all, but all we want is a bit of security, something to make us feel better in this big bad world, something to secure our vulnerable nature, to make us feel like it’s all ok and that we will never be torn apart. What we all need is a scarf. Ricky’s thick scarf.

And that is why this ad works, and why Ricky Ponting sells us vitamins.

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Clarke won’t captain a team with Ponting in it

That isn’t my statement, although I also thought it was true before today.

That was a headline from 31st of December.

The question someone asked Michael Clarke was if he would captain Australia with Ponting in it.

“No. I’ve always said from day one Ricky Ponting is my leader, my captain, and I’m certain he’ll be back captaining ASAP.”

What has changed in that time.

Well, Ricky Ponting is now not his leader, because he has stepped down.

Is it that simple.

Did Michael Clarke really mean,

“No. Ricky is my captain now, and while he is captain I can’t be, because we both can’t be captains at the same time.  We both can’t be sitting in the same chair.”

Or did he mean,

“I’ll never captain Ricky, he scares me to death.”

Or even,

“I won’t captain him until he makes a public statement retiring from the job but wants to stay on batting.”

Now, because of Ricky’s semi retirement, Clarke is going to take over a team with Ponting in it. Probably.

The person who told him off in Perth, all of three tests ago, the man who was default coach, default selector, and iron fisted captaining grouch and one of the greatest players the country as produced.

You could understand why someone like Clarke wouldn’t want to captain Ponting.

Yet now Ponting has stepped down from the top job and thrown the ball back into Clarke’s court.

What will Clarke do?

Can he walk into the job, swing his power around and say, sorry old man, this is the future, you are the past, thanks, but no thanks.

Or should he try and look like he doesn’t give a shit about Ricky, that he has hardly noticed Ricky even exists, and that Ricky is just another face in the crowd that Michael Clarke needs to mould in order to bring Australia back to glory.

The third option is for Clarke to get hypnotised and so that instead of seeing Ponting he sees Walter Matthau grumbling in the corner of the changeroom.

I think it’s great that Ponting thinks so much of Clarke that he is willing to really test him at the start of his reign as captain.

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Ponting half retires

There was a time when you’d retire.

Now it is not that simple.

Sometimes you retire at the end of a series.

Sometimes you retire from just one form of cricket.

Sometimes you retire from one facet of the game.

That is what Ponting has done.

Is it for the best of Australian cricket, probably not.

Is it for the best of Ricky Ponting, probably.

Does it mean I’ll write an entire post on it, it seems unlikely.

In stepping down from the captaincy Ponting has taken a half measure for Australian cricket.  Three of their top six are still over 35. The new captain doesn’t just have to have the most scrutinised sporting job in Australia, he also has the old boss sitting next to him. And there is no guarantee that retiring from the captaincy will make Ponting’s form come back.

Ponting has retired from T20 cricket and captaincy, he’s doing this shit in instalments, and when he gets to section four I’ll write a whole post.

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Ricky, take a bow

Ricky could have just stayed and waited to die in this game.

Instead he gave it one last go.  That’s Ricky.

With no legs, and his bloody stumps leaking blood all over the place, Ricky pulled ten largely lifeless bodies out of the dungeon, up the stairs, past the boobie trapped shot guns, over the crocodile infested moat and truck he found in the woods.

It was an amazing effort considering how close he was to death as well.

The problem for Ricky was that there were no keys to the truck.

He was just stuck there with the ten other blokes waiting for the killers to come and end him.

The waiting looked like it pained him, but when this all ended, as much as he fought to survive, he must have felt some relief.

Ricky, it’s over, there’s nothing left.  You can leave now, it’s ok, we won’t mind.  Your effort was special,yet it just doesn’t matter anymore.  This is no longer your problem.  There is now nothing you can do other than retire.  If you can drag out a hundred with a broken finger and still lose comfortably there is nothing left for you to do here.  It’s someone else’s job. No one said you had to keep playing until Australia gets good again, you’re entitled to retiring as much as anyone else with 3 world cups, a host of series victories and some demon batting performances.

Your work here is all done, get a gold watch off James Sutherland, ask Channel 9 for a job and play a bit of celebrity golf.

Ricky, thanks and good luck in the future.

Let the next guy try and drag his team mates out of the dungeon while your enjoying a cold one in a corporate box.

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TV ruins cricket, Ponting fights back

I think everyone would agree TV has ruined that cricket.

The UDRS, Tony Greig, Kerry Packer, Lalit Modi, tracer bullets and crappy cricket merchandise have been haunting us for years.

Without TV, cricket would be pure and right, a utopian sport of awesomeness.

With TV, cricket is a dreary repetitive whore who is always asking for money and regularly leaving you without climax or cuddles.

There is no doubt that TV is the worst thing to happen to cricket since Don Bradman.

I’ve always said it, there’s probably a facebook group about it.

You know I’m right, cricket has been ruined by the professionalism TV has brought in, our beautiful gentleman’s game has been blighted by microphones in stumps and up players.

We now hear grunts, swears and general boo boos, and he third wall has been brought down.

Cricket is now naked, in HD, standing before us, ever pore and orifice wide open, and we’re all to blame.

While I just complain about it, Ricky Ponting does something about it.

He’s not content lazily whining about TV, he’s hitting back.

While it is easy to misconstrue his attack on the TV in the changerooms as the actions of a fading superstar who no longer understands why he can’t perform the way he once did, it is actually attack on the symbolism of TV itself.

Ponting didn’t attack the TV out of frustration after a run out, he did it because of the way TV has ruined our great game.

So instead of taking the piss out of Ponting, we should all thank him as he has launched the first attack on this beast that has spent years greedily sucking on the wonderful teat of our great game.

Support Ponting, smash your TV with a cricket bat.

Fight the power button.

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Ricky, Natalie and I

You have your youth as long as you can hold onto it, unless you are one of those types who were born 32 years old. For the rest of us we cling onto objects and icons to stay young. The two that always stood out for me were Ricky Ponting and Natalie Portman.

Ponting started his test career when I was 16. He was the young pup way before there was even a pup.

I followed his career through dodgy LBWs at the WACA, scratchy knocks at number three, not wearing a helmet to face Curtly, a fight with a fence at Sydney, a fight with someone else in Sydney, a dropping from the team, that terrible goatee, getting wickets with gentle outswing, the face of Milk in Tasmania, the centuries coming in, vice captaincy, bhajji, runs, world cup finals, grumpiness, backing his team, captaincy, bad captaincy, over rate problems, losing an ashes, winning more world cups, more runs, more bad captaincy, losing faith in spin, losing another ashes, losing the number one spot, winning a pointless trophy, losing cricket matches to every one, and losing the Ashes again. I saw the best and worst of him.

Ponting and I have a few similarities, leaving school early, flirting with the idea of becoming groundsmen, quick to anger, hugely defensive when criticized and painfully working class upbringings. Even with this we’re probably nothing alike, and I doubt we’d ever be friends, but there is some sort of link there from me watching him for half my life.

As a batsman he was one of the best I have seen, or will ever see. When he was in control of his game, he was in control of the test match. He didn’t bat for time or records, he batted for his team, and there are few champion batsmen like that.

As a captain he got better as his team got worse. When he started he was a confused man with a lot of help from others, then he learnt how to trust himself and became a modern test captain with little flair, trust in his bowlers or need to attack.

On the last day of the boxing day test he walked off the ground to the foo fighters singing “there goes my hero”. At the time the song was being played for the English team as they sprinkled their way around the ground to bathe in the glory that Ponting has not seen for a long time.

The song wasn’t for Ponting, he probably didn’t even here it being played, but for so many fans of Australian cricket you couldn’t have picked a better song. Ponting will always have something that Michael Clarke, or any of the next generations of captains, won’t have. Aussie cricket fans felt like he was one of them. Even if they didn’t like what he said or did, they had that same bond with Ponting that I felt. For so many they felt an instant connection with them that never left.

When he played the worst shot I’ve seen from him the day before, I felt sick, not bullshit sick, but really ill. My stomach tore up, I got a headache, and wished I was somewhere else. I thought that was the last time I’d see him bat in a test match.

For years I have abused him for his captaincy, boy’s club, misuse of bowlers, and the bubble he lives in. I’ve called him the hairy armed troll, doubted that he wanted to win as much as he said he did, and got angry with so much of what he had to say. As a captain, I could never get completely behind him, so I wouldn’t miss that.

It was as a batsman I’d miss him. From the first ball I saw him face I’ve always treasured watching him bat. His batting is Australia to me. Not Australian cricket, but all of Australia. You couldn’t see Ponting bat and think he was from anywhere else. His batting says more about Australia than the national anthem or Australia day.  It is my Australia.

There will be those who pick Trumper, Ponsford, Harvey, Bradman, Border or Waugh, but for better or worse, Ponting is mine. We picked each other. He was my Australia, the best and worst of it. The Australia I love and despise.

At about the same time Ponting did a dirty drag on, Natalie Portman’s pregnancy was tweeted around the globe.

Portman and Ponting really came into my life at about the same time. In many ways I wanted to be with one and wanted to be the other. Those days are long gone.

Portman’s pregnancy didn’t really affect me at all. Ponting’s bad shot and exit from the G hurt me. This was my ground, and I felt like a part of me was leaving it for the last time.

Ponting might be back in test cricket, he could even play again at the G a few more times. He is someone who I’d never write off, but the best of him is gone. I felt older when he went out than I ever have in my life. The Ponting I grew up with doesn’t exist.

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twas the night before boxing day…

‘Twas the night before Boxing day, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a Strauss;

The bats were knocked in and oiled with care,

In hopes that Mark Nicholas would never be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of cover drives danced in their heads;

And Richie is his jacket, and Punter in his cap,

Had just settled down for a long summer’s nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

Punter sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window he flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

When, what to Punter’s squinty eyes should appear,

But an Ian Chappell, and a barrel of beer,

Chappelli’s mouth was so lively and quick,

“Open up you little dick”.

Then he yelled and the others came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

“Now, Bill! now, Steve! now, Mark and Bob!

On, Kim! on Graham! on, Greg and AB!

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!

Now drink away! Drink away! drink away all!”

They drank so fast it was if they flew,

Laughing and abusing Mark Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, Punter heard on the roof

The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As Punter drew in his head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney Mark Nicholas came with a hound.

He was dressed all in trendy clothes from his head to his foot,

And his body hair had long since gone caput;

A bundle of baggage he had flung on his back,

And he looked like metro with a fresh shaved sack.

He was skinny and shady and hung like an elf,

And Punter laughed when he saw him, in spite of himself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,

He let punter know he had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And started tweeting platitudes like a complete jerk,

And then Chappelli punched his nose,

And the others stood around him, trying to impose;

He sprang to his car, as the blood ran out,

And young pup cried like a small scout.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

“Happy Boxing day to all, I’ll captain Australia out of spite.”

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ashes merchandise fail

I understand that the ashes is a big series that people want to make money off, and I understand the appeal of bobble heads, but in what world does this look like Ricky Ponting?

KP sort of looks like KP if he was trying to look like Guy Fawkes.

But, Ricky, well, he looks more like Josh Hazelwood’s ventriloquists dummy.

It should also be noticed that KP is not the captain of England.

I only say that incase Adidas didn’t know.

If you know who this “ricky” doll has been based on, feel free to link to that person in the comments.

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