Posted by: nestaquin | March 3, 2009

Australian Cricket: The Ponting Era Begins in Triumph

ricky-ponting1With every new dawn there is raw hope, infinite potential and a mysterious wonder. The senses are keener, the mind clearer and the heart softer. It’s a romantic and introspective time and all the moreso in the case of Australian cricket this Tuesday in late summer 2009.

Yesterday, an ocean away in Johannesburg, the youngest men in the BaggyGreen stood tall and achieved a victory so unexpected that the enormity of their efforts will take some time to be fully appreciated.

In the short term, they have given the Australian cricket community every chance of retaining the trophy that the previous generation played so brilliantly to make their own, the ICC Test Mace.

It usually stands front and centre in the foyer at Cricket Australia’s Jolimont headquarters as a symbol of Australian cricketing supremacy, a shining, glittering acknowledgement of cricket’s most successful community, past and present.

When it was prematurely taken a few weeks back it left more than a hole in the recess of the wall where it is mounted. Its departure represented an end of a glorious era that tentatively began two decades ago at a throbbing Eden Gardens when Australia defeated England in the 1987 World Cup final.

The win at The Wanderers, where Australia’s greenest attack in memory dismissed a hardened South African outfit twice for less than 300, could conceivably be viewed in a similar light by cricket historians of the future and although it may be a precipitous and controversial notion, it could also be considered the moment when Ricky Ponting steps out of the formidable shadow of Steve Waugh and engraves his name on the honour roll of influential Australian Test skippers.

Ponting will never be a master tactician but when presented with a team that can implement a plan that suits his leadership style he appeared comfortable and in command even during periods of duress.

As a teenage prodigy Ponting was marked as a future captain and it was not for his tactical nous but for his natural inclination to lead from the front very much in the manner of the BaggyGreen’s favourite brawler, Allan Border.

Ponting already has scores of performances in the books that illustrate this spirited attribute with the most recent after lunch on the first day of the Wanderers Test. With Australia in deep trouble he audaciously attacked the South African bowlers and with the assistance of his deputy Michael Clarke they set a bold example to the team and in doing so upset the lines, lengths, plans and minds of the opposition bowlers and captain.

It was a brave and some might say foolhardy strategy on a seaming wicket in swinging conditions but it paid a high dividend and in the short and long term it has strengthened the confidence and character of his men.

Freed of his predecessors mighty deeds and instinctively taught by example, his first lessons as a leader were to believe in your abilities, play aggressively and never give the opposition an inch. The youngsters, internationally speaking at least, showed that they are willing to follow his example as the team concentrated their efforts with an unanticipated discipline and in doing so earned an historic and significant victory.

A characteristic of inexperience is inconsistency so undoubtedly there will be the odd poor performance in the months ahead but with only a draw required from the next two Tests in the World Championship decider, it looks as though Ponting and his young charges may achieve what few thought possible just a day or two ago; replenishing the empty space at Jolimont and the doubt in a nation’s heart by bringing home the jewel in Australia’s cricketing crown.

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Responses

  1. Well written N but of course it all feels shallow now with the horrible events in Pakistan. But really well written and a fine win for what it is worth. We will come back to it some day.

  2. Wouldn’t this be more the “Clarke Era”?

  3. This was the first Test that Ponting has skippered without any of Steve Waugh’s old legends present. Therefore, I think we can fairly assume that Waugh’s influence is now extinguished and The Ponting Era has begun.

    He is now the last one standing and from here on the rebuilding of Australian cricket and whatever results they can garner rest squarely on his shoulders alone.


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