Often in life, there can be a fine line between success and abject failure. Let me relate to you a recent fishing weekend. I went fishing twice for a total of about six hours. By the end of my second attempt, I had caught nothing (except small bream and a puffer). But I decided to have five more minutes. Well, the truth is, when it comes to fishing, my middle name should be “just five more minutes”. At any rate, at the 11th hour, I caught a 6 pound flathead. In one lucky moment, my fishing weekend went from abject failure to outrageous success.
And thus it was for Ricky Ponting on day one of the first day of the Third Test in Bellerive Oval, Hobart (no, he did not going fishing in the Derwent after the close of play). Ponting may be a proud New South Welshman these days but of course, deep down, he still calls Tasmania home and making runs in front of his home crowd is dear to his heart. Success and Ponting have not often found each other at Bellerive. After his first two Tests he had a sum total of four runs to his name, including a pair against Pakistan.
His one score of note was his 157 not out against New Zealand in November 2001. Ponting came to the crease on Thursday admitting his own poor form. The ABC had just launched a listener poll: Should Ricky Ponting move down the order? Before he had scored, he helped a hook shot straight down deep fine leg’s throat and seemed destined for dismal failure. Luckily for Ponting, the failure was not his but that of Mohammad Aamer who spilled the easiest catch in the history of Tests at Bellerive Oval.
In just one moment, Ponting was given the reprieve he needed. What would have been a dismal failure was turned into outstanding success. Ponting went on with his vice-captain to post a partnership of 352, breaking all sorts of records and putting his team in an unassailable position. He personally scored 209 runs, his fifth Test double century and went on to make 289 runs for the match. But that is just the small picture.
Not only has Ponting recently lead his team to win unwinnable matches, but on the very day that he made a reviving century, Ponting was voted the cricketer of the decade by a panel of 40 Cricinfo experts. He easily outstripped all other comers including several men who are actually better cricketers: Kallis, McGrath, Warne and Gilchrist (not in that order). While you can debate whether that could actually be so (in fact, you can debate if the decade is even finished – I make it still 12 months to go), Ponting will take the award. It was a panel of hardened critics.
Life is roses on all fronts for the Prince of Hobart and King of Australian cricket and that in no small part, is due to one instant of luck.