When it comes to naming the greats in Indian cricket, Sachin Tendulkar will, for sure, unanimously be named at the top. Every run he takes sets a new record; every match he plays sets a new milestone for the rest.
And while the batting maestro was setting yet another milestone in Bangalore during the recently concluded Test series against Australia, which India won 2-0, there was someone who somehow did not wish to acknowledge the Master’s prowess with the bat.
As the world stood up to applaud Tendulkar’s sixth double ton in Test cricket, there was someone who was bitter enough to say that the Master Blaster was ‘past his best’. Need we spell out the name, or do we all know that the ‘someone’ is none other than Australian skipper Ricky Ponting.
Reacting to Mark Taylor’s assessment of his form, Ponting in a very uncanny manner, said, “I think what Mark had to say was that he probably didn’t think I could get any better from where I am at the moment.”
He even went out to say, “I think there is a period in every batsman’s life where they are playing at their absolute best. Even Sachin Tendulkar now, even though he’s scored nine hundreds last year, was probably not at his absolute best, either.”
At the first place, it is important that ‘Punter’ gets his facts right as Tendulkar slammed eight (not nine) Test centuries in 2009 and 2010, the match at M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore being the last. Even though we all hope that ‘nine centuries’ statement was correct, it still doesn’t matter as even with a century less than Ponting’s ‘imagination’, Tendulkar is way better than the Aussie could ever ‘imagine’.
At the age of 37, Tendulkar has achieved much more than what Ponting, who is 35, could only dream of achieving in the next 5 years.
To start with, Tendulkar currently has 49 centuries in Tests while Ponting trails with 39. In ODIs, the difference is even wider as Sachin has 46 tons compared to Ponting’s 29. And considering Ponting’s recent form, his dream to fill up the gap seems to be a bit distant.
With just two centuries till now since the beginning of 2009, Ponting’s batting average too has been much lower than Tendulkar. While the Mumbaikar boasts of strong batting averages of 67.62 and 97.69 in 2009 and 2010 respectively, Ponting would be a bit more modest to project averages 38.77 (2009) and 46.66 (2010).
Taylor had said that Ponting is not at the best of his forms and the statistics rightfully depict the same. But instead of focusing on his issues, Ponting passed the criticism to Tendulkar. Sadly for Ponting, statistics speak otherwise, leaving him high and dry.
Taylor had also said that Ponting must instead draw inspiration from Sachin and learn how to improve with the passage of time. Tendulkar too went through a similar phase during 2006 and 2007 when he averaged 41.72 with two centuries in 17 Tests (Ponting is also sitting with 2 tons from last 21 matches, something he has not been able to overcome unlike Sachin).
Nevertheless, Tendulkar drastically returned back to form, and also posted his ‘first-of-a-kind’ double ton in ODIs (No other in the history of the game as done so, and Punter calls it a waning period, tch tch). It was this ‘rebirth’ of the maestro that impressed Taylor. And revival for Tendulkar came to such an extent that the living legend became the only current player to be featured in the ‘World XI’ team short listed by a leading cricket website.
Seems for Ponting, not only the performance is taking a downward slope with age, but his sense of judgement has also gone for a toss.
It is high time that Australia must look beyond Ponting and search for a captain who is better equipped to lead a ‘young and inexperienced team’ if they are to look for some chance of victory in the Ashes.