Ponting faces exit sign

2011-11-19 14:21

In his poem “Don’t go gentle into that good night”, Welsh poet Dylan Thomas makes the point that one should not calmly accept death but struggle against it.

There are some times when the Grim Reaper offers you no other solution however, and it seems this was one of them for Ricky Ponting.

After being caught plumb in front for a second consecutive duck by Dale Steyn, Australian journalist ­Peter Lalor quickly remarked: “That’s the end of him.

He has to go now. Even if he makes a match-saving century, his time is up,” At 36, this could be the end of “Punter”, who last crossed triple figures when he made 209 against Pakistan at Hobart.

Since then, he has walked through a never-ending Sahara desert of runs, which didn’t let up even after the tasty prospect of ­reclaiming the Ashes from England at home, a series loss which further accelerated his decline as captain.

Many would argue that Ponting is only one century away from beginning a golden run in his twilight, as Rahul Dravid, Shiv Chanderpaul, Sachin Tendulkar and Jacques Kallis have recently done, but the currency that he needs to dictate his own retirement terms – runs – have been as scarce as the grass on a subcontinent wicket.

When you score a duck on a ground where you scored your highest One Day International century and where your country has prospered in the past, then you know the cricket gods are not smiling on you.

Great players usually dictate their terms of retirement. Steve Waugh’s last ball of the day century ensured he’d last one more season in the hot seat, while Mark Taylor’s 118 against England at Edgbaston in 1997 saved his skin.

Both were captains and retired as captains and Australian captains don’t normally stay on once they have relinquished the armband.

Ponting tempted fate by doing what Kim Hughes did.

His return as a normal player, even though they are nothing much to write home about, read better than Hughes’ binary code.

In his time Ponting struck fear into many a fast bowler’s heart.

He was a modern Viv Richards, with the ability to deposit the fastest of the fast into Row X between the fine leg and midwicket arch, sandwiched by his trademark flick through the latter area.

Since Kemar Roach tenderised his elbow in Perth in 2009, Ponting hasn’t been the same player.

His favoured hook and pull shots just weren’t connecting, the big centuries vanished in the wind and the favoured midwicket flick ­became his glaring weakness, with a tendency to flap around his front pad.

With 12 495 test runs and 13 686 ODI runs, Ricky Ponting is a ­legend, if not the best batsman Australia has produced since Don Bradman, but that unforgiving factor called time – which is every sportsperson’s nemesis – has finally caught up with him.

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