x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Australia cricketer Ricky Ponting has shown true grit

The former Australia captain – who has announced his retirement from Test cricket – polarised opinion but will always be remembered as a great, writes Dileep Premachandran.

Australia's Ricky Ponting acknowledges spectators after reaching a century during their second cricket test against India at the Sydney Cricket Ground, in this January 4, 2012 file photo. Australia's Ricky Ponting will retire from test cricket after this week's third match against South Africa, the 37-year-old said on November 29, 2012. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne/Files (AUSTRALIA - Tags: SPORT CRICKET) *** Local Caption *** SYD19_CRICKET-PONTI_1129_11.JPG
Australia's Ricky Ponting acknowledges spectators after reaching a century during their second cricket test against India at the Sydney Cricket Ground, in this January 4, 2012 file photo. Australia's Ricky Ponting will retire from test cricket after this week's third match against South Africa, the 37-year-old said on November 29, 2012. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne/Files (AUSTRALIA - Tags: SPORT CRICKET) *** Local Caption *** SYD19_CRICKET-PONTI_1129_11.JPG

If you ask cricket followers what made Ricky Ponting - who yesterday announced his retirement from Test cricket - great, you will get a dozen different answers. Some would point to the 108 Test wins, to the three World Cups. Others would mention the pull, played as well as it has ever been, or the driving that coalesced power and style.

More than anything else, though, Ponting epitomised the spirit of the Baggy Green, a cap that has the kangaroo and the emu - two animals incapable of taking a backward step. His commitment did not always endear him to neutrals, but he was the perfect man to guide the team through a transition phase.

Ponting was also brutally honest, with himself and those around him. Whether admitting to the issues in his younger days or backing his players, you never had to deal with two faces. There was no Good Ricky or Bad Ricky. There was only Flint-Eyed Ricky, who did his hardest to win every game.

His game-saving century at Old Trafford in 2005 - in an Ashes series that was eventually lost - was Ponting at his defiant best, but even more noteworthy was the way he turned things around in India. In his first 14 innings, over eight Tests, Ponting averaged just over 12. In his next 11 innings, from 2008 to 2010, he made 490 runs.

"I'm as pleased with that innings as I probably have been with any innings I've ever played," he said of a century in Bangalore. "I've been working really hard. I've made no secret of it, my record here has been poor."

Honesty, and hard work. No wonder he will be remembered as a legend.

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