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From Perth to Perth

I guess being called ugly is something that wouldnt find favour with the vast majority of us. More so if you are a sportsman and the adjective is not towards the appearance but on your character. But ( i like this word "but" it always brings with it a sense of change) there "was" a tribe of fierce band of cricketers, who contrary to the popular opinion, took pride in being called the "ugly aussie". They went around, bullying the world cricket ,giving sleepless nights to cricketers of whichever country they travelled and injury scares (more scares than injury) to the visitors down under. They were the modern day vikings of world cricket, who went around plundering runs and wickets and at a point, having become so disdainful were their attitude, that the cricket watching public, barring those down under began to cheer every Aussie defeat irrespective of their nationality or whether their team is involved in it or not. Pride bequeath fall, they say and the entire world was watching with bated breath as to when the mighty aussies will fall. True. India turned out to be one place that barely escaped their victory blitzkrieg. But the rest of the world succumbed to their brute force and sheer talent, multiple times in the past decade and a half and one of the chief architects of those victory marches was this man who answered to the call - Ricky Ponting, who has announced his retirement from international cricket.

Australianism, means single-minded determination to win - to win within the laws but, if necessary, to the last limit within them. It means where the 'impossible' is within the realm of what the human body can do, there are Australians who believe that they can do it - and who have succeeded often enough to make us wonder if anything is impossible to them. It means they have never lost a match - particularly a Test match - until the last run is scored or their last wicket down. - Arlott

Never have i hated a player more than this guy. Especially when he played against India. More so for his audacious innings in the 2003 final when he cartered Zaheer for sixes as if a school kid was bowling to him. I still could recollect the shock with which we came out of our friend's house after the Aussie innings got over. Though there were brave talks that if sachin and sehwag can go blazing from start we could have a match on our hands but still couldnt quite come out of the shock and impact of that innings. Could very well understand the impact on the Indian players for all of whom it was their first major appearance on a major tournament final. He destroyed our dreams of India lifting the cup that day singlehandedly and we had to wait for almost a decade to see it happen. Till that innings Ponting was just another bully blessed with the best of class calibre cricketers ever to have been assembled in a single team. The "Invincibles" of my time i guess. After that match, he became the indelible tormentor who had to be avenged match after match and yet remained unconquered.

After the "Sydneygate" fiasco i began to hate him even more. His unsportsman like conduct and his constant arguing with batsmen when appeals for wicket got turned down and down right sledging made him a poster boy for dartboards. Though that test match would be more remembered for the monkey sledge by Bajji and Kumble's comment on the Aussie attitude towards that match, it would also be remembered as the first major push from the test cricket summit, that the aussies had ruled for so long. Guess, the post match criticism mellowed Ponting a bit and he became less controversial. Maybe that robbed him off some more years of cricket from him for his scores began to dwindle. As he grew in stature as a person and a leader and a mentor to his mates, his scoreline subsided and bowlers world over began to breath easy. Injury scare at a crucial stage of his career didnt help either. When the call for his ouster grew he answered that with another flurry of centuries and the victims this time again were the visiting Indian team. That became his last major hurrah and after the twin failures in the first two tests against SA in the ongoing series, he has decided to hang his boots.

Many feel that Sachin is a statistician's nightmare, for he churns up record after record every passing year. If at all there ever was a player who could give stiff competition for Sachin in this aspect and in every aspect of the wonderful sport called cricket, that would be this man. He was forever in waiting for Sachin to retire so that he can scale down some of his summits. But our own lil big man has managed to outlive him, though may not be for long i guess. The one legacy of Ponting that no player from current crop can manage to overcome would be the sheer number of victories he had been part of. He has lead his team undefeated, read UNDEFEATED, in two consecutive world cups and has been part of 100 test victories. To even play 100 matches is considered a tremendous achievement, a glorious example of the amazing stamina and patience and perseverance. But to be part of 100 victories, many of them being epics etched on the great hall of fame of cricket is something that would be unrivalled. Yes, he was blessed with the best of the world bowlers and fielders and support staff. But him being at the crux of them all, shouldering the burden of the limelight and brickbats, protecting his fellow mates and yet marshaling them to victory after victory...hmmm..that would be quite a journey i guess. We are all blessed to have witnessed an assembly line of superstar cricketers. Be it our own bunch of Kumble,Dravid,Laxman,Saurav,Sachin or Warne,McGrath, the Wow Waugh's, Lara, Kallis, Murali ..the list is endless but is incomplete without Ponting on it. The name Ponting was, is and would always be synonymous with victory and if he manages to win his final match at Perth, the place where he began his career, he would see his beloved team back at the test summit again. That would be a fitting tribute to his glorious career and for once, just this once alone, i would be rooting for an Aussie victory. Go Aussie Go.


Asha said…
wow! a beautiful tribute to ponting. He would be glad to read this if he came across this post.

As for me, i could not relate much since i stopped watching cricket post 90's. But your cricket stats and memory reminded me of my own.

Before 90's, i was a crazy maniacal fan of cricket who only did'nt build a temple for cricketers. had all the cricket info on my finger tips and maintained a scrap book and my fav was the west indies team and my fav cricketer was viv richards. My parents would tease me saying 'dhoopam katrudu onnu daan miccham'. I am amazed at my own change, today i hate cricket.
Ramesh said…
Wonderful post Gils. A great tribute to Ponting, one of the greats of the game.

I think he was less of an ugly Aussie than many other illustrious guys who preceded him. He may not have been a 'gentleman", but he was a with foe deserving of all respect.

Cricket will be much the poorer without him. Farewell . And, no I don't want Australia to win the test - what I want is a pulsating context and it would indeed be lovely if Ponting scored a century.
Aarti said…
*clap clap clap* lovely post .. Am a big Aussie team fan and definitely sad to see Ponting go.. But one thing- these guys all retire before embarrassing themselves and the team..
gils said…

many of my friends were windies fans too :) schooldaysla there was one die hard Lara fan that he pestered his parents and even got espn paid channel at home just to watch windies series live :)) viv richards is my fav cricketer too..but guess i never saw him play LIVE in any match..

lol @ dhoopam kaatrathu :D:D appolaam sportstar nu oru magazine varum..not sure if its still there..athula centerpagela they would've library or any library..the first thing the librarian will do is to remove that one...ilaati pasanga pichi praandiduvaanga :D:D
gils said…
I still treasure my BigFUN wickets and runs :D:D
gils said…

aussies were pounded to the ground..but the guard of honour was a tremendous gesture from Smith...chaancela. They made sure they attacked Ponting with sentiment and made him all teared up before he took stance itself..clever ploy :)
gils said…
//But one thing- these guys all retire before embarrassing themselves and the team.. //

so true..nammaal enna panna poraaro :)

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