Posts Tagged Ricky Ponting

Say Goodnight and Go

So this is how it ends for Ricky. I had truly hoped it wouldn’t happen this way. He was never my favourite player in the world, but he is still Ricky Ponting, bona fide legend, one of the best there’s ever been with a bat and in the field. One day, even his hairy arms and that constant disconcerting hand-spitting will be discussed with respectful awe, in the tone used to discuss those chosen, near-mythical few, because he is a legend and there’s probably not a cricket fan in their right mind who would seriously attempt to dispute it.

Today, though, seated behind a table with flashes going off left and right in his face, he looked almost painfully human. Ricky is not a small man. He’s still in the shape that befits an elite sportsman, and he remained entirely composed, not visibly distraught, not stricken or anguished. But he looked, even if only infinitesimally, diminished, because there was no way to escape the fact that he was there not to announce a decision of his own choosing, that he was there because the axe had been dropped and everything about Ricky that makes him legendary wasn’t enough to stop it. He was there because he had not seen the writing on the wall, had not taken the many chances tacitly offered to him to accede to the inevitable on his own terms. Dignified as he was, he was there to talk about the fact that someone had been forced to finally tell him what they’d been hoping he’d figure out for himself but didn’t, and with such a thing comes stinging humiliation no matter how you try to slice it.

Oh, Ricky.

I started watching cricket properly late in life. In 2005 I still didn’t know too much about things, but I knew enough to quake slightly for England when Steve Harmison’s bouncer smacked into the side of Ricky’s head on Day 1 at Lords and sliced open his face. It was as reflexive as when, in the split second after you see someone tread on a cat’s tail, you know with complete certainty that bloody retribution will follow. It’s the natural law of things. In 2005, I didn’t have to formulate a conscious thought to know for sure – for SURE, beyond a shadow of a doubt – that cutting Ricky Ponting’s face open would result in truly terrible vengeance, so much so that I didn’t even have to particularly like England to wince at the thought of the ravaging that awaited them.

That Ricky seems a distant, dim memory now. Even though Ricky will still play Tests, even though I have no doubt that he will still continue to prove his immense worth there, he’s not the same Ricky.

He’s never been a favourite. I’ve never even really liked the man. But that still makes me sad.

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I give in.

As a subcontinental cricket fan, there are certain things you tend to do almost without realizing why you do them. Loathing Pakistan (if you’re Indian, vice versa if you’re Pakistani), loathing Australia, and wilfully ignoring Anil Kumble’s mountain of achievements and general awesomeness are among those that come to mind. I , personally, never did the first, and believe that if found guilty of the last you should be soundly beaten, with your own shoes, by a mob of intense, moustachioed men in spectacles. I will, however, admit to having been guilty of the second.

The Australians have been hard to like, none more so than their grizzled veteran Captain Ricky. Like the team he’s led with distinction for so long, he’s turned out consistently brilliant performances, and accepted victory after victory with a confident (some would say arrogant) grin, a man claiming what was rightfully his. There is much to admire about the man, not least his complete and self-driven turnaround from the early days when he might easily have become another Andrew Symonds. There are still many things I don’t like about him – dude needs to work on not getting riled by the media, for one thing – but in recent months, my resistance has been steadily worn down. It was dealt a death-blow when Ricky made the declaration that will probably endear him to me for ever, even if it emerges at some point that he enjoys drop-kicking puppies in his spare time and takes twice-daily baths in the tears of orphans.

Ricky Ponting loves ODIs. 50-over cricket. Not 40-over cricket, not ‘modified’ 50-over cricket, not sexed-up-glamorized-ODI-cricket. ODI cricket the way it’s been played all along. No caveats.

I freaking LOVE him for this.

Last night, when he admitted that had he been the fielding captain during an incident like that which befell poor Khalid Latif, he would have considered leading off his team, I realized that, dammit; I may be a Ponting fan. A reluctant, I-will-still-probably-support-any-team-that-plays-against-Australia-instead-of-them kind of fan, but a fan nonetheless. I give in. You win, Ricky. I say this with extreme reluctance, but I will still say it: you, sir, are maybe kind of awesome.

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