Tag Archives: Ricky Ponting

Gilchrist, a sentimental Ponting, and a sobering realisation

If you didn’t already know, Adam Gilchrist has retired from international cricket. As an England fan, I should feel glad that someone who fired the second fastest century in Adelaide in the 2006 Ashes that led to the embarrassment of a 5-0 whitewash, and delivered an Ashes debut to savour with the bat at Edgbaston in 2002, has now decided to spend more time with his family.

However, I’m quite the opposite. Cricket has lost a player that brought equal amounts of dread and exhilaration for the opposing fan, as well as something that’s arguably even rarer — a modest Australian cricketer.

What first struck me when Gilchrist announced his retirement was the lack of discussion over his wicket-keeping, both pre and on the announcement of his retirement. Apparently the dropped catch off VVS Laxman convinced Gilchrist that it was now time to leave the game, believing that he now lacked the speed and concentration he once had.

But this lack of discussion is perhaps because as a keeper, he was consistent to the point where discussion only ever occurred when he broke a keeping record. Many will argue that he missed too many stumpings and catches, but this lack of discussion is arguably as loud as any round of applause. Only when keepers drop catches or consistently under perform are they often talked about; as Matt Prior, Geraint Jones and MS Dhoni can testify. He wasn’t as prolific or as acrobatic as Rodney Marsh, but he was just as good.

Yet while Marsh was instrumental in changing the ideas of keeping, from giving himself more space to throw himself about to changing the positions of his slips, Gilchrist was the Rodney Marsh of batting. The first and still only batsman to hit 100 sixes in Test cricket, he could turn a match in the space of an over; his 24 off a single Matthew Hoggard over in the ’06 Ashes coming to mind.

In his post-match presentation speech at the end of what turned out to be a tame fourth Test draw in Adelaide, Ricky Ponting, considered to be incessantly driven by the need to win and nothing else, was probably as emotional and as sentimental as you’ll ever see him when he commented on Gilchrist’s retirement and the gradual succession of new guys over the old — I even managed a little “awww.” It was incredibly sobering to hear.

But he’s right; before he knows it, he’ll probably be joining Warne and McGrath in the Indian Cricket League. After the departures of Langer, Warne and McGrath, Gilchrist’s retirement has finally brought the realisation that Australian cricket really is entering an uncertain, yet fresh and deeply intriguing phase.



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Filed under Adam Gilchrist, Australia, Comment, Cricket, ICC, Indian Cricket League, Ricky Ponting, Sport

The buck now stops with Ponting and Bucknor

Being an England fan, I think it was difficult to at first acknowledge the role of Ricky Ponting in the Harbhajan affair. After all, England, in a time that seems so long ago, overcame sledging etc in the 2005 Ashes Series by playing them at their own game. Of course, it didn’t work just over a year ago in the Australian backyard.

Becoming so accustomed to that type of behaviour, it now seems natural — ‘The Spirit of the Game’ transformed; the “anger” Nasser Hussain called for the England team. The persistent appealing towards two underwhelming umpires (in the case of Bucknor, one consistently underwhelming umpire) at first masked by the racism row, is now beginning to be realised. Gamesmanship is now the issue, with Harbhajan taking a back-seat. Even notable Australian-based cricket journalists such as  Peter Roebuck are calling for his sacking.

Steve Bucknor, who was to umpire the third Test in Perth, is now no-longer doing so, and has been replaced by Billy Bowden. Malcolm Speed, chief executive of the ICC, bowed to the pressure of India.

And, by being nocturnal and watching ND-TV on Sky (channel 513 in the UK) at 4.30am this morning, where a studio audience was drafted in and a panel who repeatedly talked about the honour of a nation being besmirched, it’s easy to understand why.

His consistent poor decision-making has stirred a nation to the point where memories of the colonial past are now coming back; views that the game of cricket cannot afford to be subjected to – again. Comments on that eponymous feature of all news channels — the ticker, were all calling for the sub-continent to form a ‘super association’ that is totally independent of the ICC. It’s all rash talk, but rash talk that will frighten the ICC.

Cricket is entering yet another shaky period. This row, as well as the ensuing impasse over England touring Zimbabwe, are making that ominous Hadlee vision a reality.


Filed under Andrew Symonds, Australia, Australia v India Cricket Row, Comment, Cricket, ICC, India, Indian Cricket League, Peter Roebuck, Racism, Ricky Ponting, Sport, Steve Bucknor