On Matters That Matter

The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones

O Ponting! My Ponting!

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When the heat cools down and the dust settles, the 2009 Ashes defeat would hurt Australia much more than the loss in 2005. That was an England side on a winning spree, with a bowling attack that had phenomenal bite and their batting too was much better on paper than this time.

Australia had the services of most of their greats of the past decade and the matches were tight. Warne was magical throughout the series and brought Australia back into the contest almost in every game after Lord’s. England was a unit that looked like winning after the Edgbaston Test. This time it is not just a defeat but also a shock as this did not seem like a possibility after Leeds.

“When Australia won the dead Sydney Test of January 1987, having already lost the Ashes, a journalist at the press conference asked the visiting captain Mike Gatting: Wasn’t it really rather good that the hosts had won a consolation victory? Didn’t he, deep down, feel a little sorry for the Aussies?
Gatting imparted some advice to remember. Beating Australia was always great, he insisted. And nobody, but nobody, should ever feel sorry for a cricketer in green and gold.”

For the past decade or so I’ve always been thrilled to see Ponting’s back in any match. That 10-over spell of Ishant Sharma at Perth at the end of which he got his man was the moment when the match swung in India’s favour.

Ponting’s been a part of two amazing 16 Test wins on the trot for Australia in the last decade or so. He’s captained Australia to two World Cup wins and there have been times when the probability of the victory speech at the end of a Test match being his has been close to 100 per cent even before the start of the game. Sometimes his smirk has looked ugly and his celebration pompous; like after the acrimonious Sydney Test against India. His team remorselessly flogged England 5-0 the last time they met in Australia.

When he lost his wicket in the second innings at the Oval, for the first time I was shattered seeing him depart. I didn’t like seeing his back and the fact that it was because of a run out made it more painful. Suddenly I saw everything in a completely different light; the reason to always celebrate his wicket had little to do with like or dislike and everything to do with his ability to single-handedly change the course of a game. …Click on the headline to read the full story.

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Written by Deepan Joshi

August 25, 2009 at 1:15 pm

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