Bats Right Hand
Bats Right Hand
Ashes Tests: 35
Record: 8 wins, 6 losses, 5 draws
Off the Mark
Ricky Ponting shares a love-hate relationship with England that spans four series as captain. Although he led Australia to a record setting 5-0 whitewash in 2006, Ponting also became the first captain to lose three series to England, including the home loss in 2010/11.
In his 35 appearances, Ponting accumulated 2,476 runs at 44.21. Importantly, this was his lowest average against any Test playing nation. This included 127 on his Ashes debut, as well as back to back tons in the 2006 series.
A polarising figure to many, Ponting was one of the most influential cricketers the nation ever produced, and would go down as the most successful in all the key areas.
The 2005 series was the first time since 1987 that Australia had lost the Ashes. All five matches were memorable, with Ponting featuring heavily. The first Test was a crushing 239 run victory sparked by McGrath’s nine wickets.
The second Test was one of the tightest in recent memory. Minutes before the commencement of play, McGrath rolled his ankle on a rogue ball, forcing him out of the match. Ponting won the toss, yet opted to bowl first minus his strike weapon. England piled on 407 on the opening day, before rolling Australia for 308. Six wickets to Shane Warne helped skittle the English for 182, setting up a thrilling final innings chase. Australia needed 282 for a 2-0 series lead, but its two key players were outdone by some stunning bowling. Firstly, Andrew Flintoff removed Ponting with a near perfect five ball assault. Then, in the final over of the day, Steve Harmison bowled Michael Clarke with a slower ball that might just go down as the turning point in the series. At 8/175, things looked dire. Warne and Brett Lee then started the final day with a 54 run partnership, before Warne trod on his own stumps. Then, in one of the bravest stands for the tenth wicket, Lee and Kasprowicz added 49 runs in 12 overs to bring the tourists to within three. Had a Brett Lee cut shot gone one metre wider, Australia would have won. Instead, it brought his partner on strike to face a vicious lifter from Harmison. The ball brushed the glove on its way to Geraint Jones, handing England the narrowest of victories.
Ponting bravely made 156 in the third Test to rescue a draw for Australia. However, his dismissal in the fourth Test would once again swing momentum to the home side. Following-on, Ponting looked intent on batting his way to another draw. Things looked good until, when on 48, Damien Martyn called him through for a suicidal single that saw him run out. Ordinarily, Ponting would have been mad. But when he saw that it was a substitute fieldsman who had thrown down the stumps, Ponting lost it. His verbal tirade towards the English dressing room was a classic spray, but cost him 75% of his match fee. Australia lost the match, and the series.
There were positives though, none more evident than the 2006 series. Keen to atone for the shock defeat, Ponting wasted little time, hitting 196 and 60* in a huge win at the Gabba. The second Test, or Amazing Adelaide as it’s now known, was one for the ages. Paul Collingwood (206) and Kevin Pietersen (158) allowed England to declare on 551. However, 142 to the skipper, as well as 124 to Michael Clarke helped Australia cut the deficit to just 38. Then, in one of the greatest final day collapses, Shane Warne spun England out of the contest with just 129 runs on the board. Chasing 168 in the final session, the Australians went hell for leather. Ponting (49) got things going, before Mike Hussey (61*) hit the winning runs to seal the stunning result. Redemption was complete in Sydney with Australia winning 5-0.
Ricky Ponting would finish his career with the most victories as Australian captain. His leadership was never smooth sailing. Adopting a champion side from Steve Waugh, he lost stars such as Warne, McGrath and Gilchrist, and had to contend with the re-emergence of strong Test competition.
He will obviously be remembered as the only Australian captain to lose three Ashes series, but he also achieved greatness, including back to back World Cups.
Ponting was a ferocious Ashes competitor, and wore his heart on his sleeve. The guard of honour he received in his final Test against South Africa was a fitting reflection on the impact he had on the game.
Played and Missed
Ponting is Australia’s leading run scorer in Tests with 13,378, as well as in ODI cricket with 13,704.
Ponting is possibly Australia’s greatest ever fieldsman. Statistically, he holds the record with most catches (196) and has always had a lethal arm fielding at point.
He is the only player to have appeared in 100 Test victories.
Ponting is one of two Australians to hit three double-centuries in a calendar year.
The name “Punter” started in 1995 when he was named a part-time ambassador by the TAB. He has since become a keen greyhound enthusiast, and owns several racing hounds.