PONTING – At the close of play
Before I launch into this book review, I just want to state that Ricky Ponting is my favourite cricketer of all-time. He wasn’t the greatest batsman (at least statistically), he wasn’t the greatest test captain (according to the press), he wasn’t the best fielder (but not far behind the best), but for me Ricky Ponting was the all-round cricketing package. Even though he sent down a few wobbly less than medium pacers over the duration of his career, he was not considered to be a genuine all-round cricketer.
PONTING – At the close of play
The first time I had ever heard of Ricky Ponting was during the quadrangular World Series Cup One Day International (ODI) tournament in the summer of 1994/1995. I am certain that many Australian cricket fans would have heard of Ponting prior to this tournament, considering that he made his first-class debut for Tasmania at the tender age of just 17.
I can still remember it as if it was just yesterday. A 19 year old Ponting wearing the Australia A uniform, walking confidently out to the centre of The Adelaide Oval, swinging his bat and chewing gum like most of the pros of that era did. There was something about him, he wasn’t cocky, he just an air of confidence and a staunch demeanour. The inclusion of a second Australian team in the World Series Cup was a contentious decision. It turned out that the ‘old hands’ in the top Australian team were looking over their shoulders at the new breed of talented young Australian cricketers. The fact that Australia A made the finals of that tournament against the Australian team, just shows how much talent there was in Australian cricket at that time.
After reading Ponting’s autobiography, I feel as if I now know the man as well as the cricketer. He was the junior protégé that everybody in the know of Australian cricket circles knew about. He was the kid from Tasmania who would travel the world and lock eyes with the deadliest bowlers of his era. Small in stature, Ponting took a backward step to no one. Like most of the great cricketers to represent Australia, Ponting came back an even better player after being dropped from the national team.
Over the duration of his career, Ponting played 168 tests and 375 ODI’s, scoring 41 test centuries and 30 ODI centuries. Finishing his career with the very respectable averages of 51.85 (test average) and 42.03 (ODI average). This book takes you behind the scenes of the feats he achieved throughout his career, at times taking you into his mind, but always fighting to be the best cricketer he could be.
Every chapter in this book was great reading. There were some very humorous moments, like the time he and Paul Reiffel nearly came to blows while on an aeroplane. Ponting was to never take a backward step during his career, and became friends with some of the most influential Australian cricketers of all-time, players like; Shane Warne, Glenn Mcgrath, Darren Lehman, Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer.
For decades the captain of the Australian Cricket Team has been acknowledged as the second most powerful job in the whole of Australia – the most important job being Prime Minister. Ponting described in detail his reign as Australian captain, the high points, like winning ODI World Cups, and the lows – defending his players against controversy. What resonated throughout his biography was his pride in representing Australia at cricket.
I loved the stories in this book about the team celebrating their triumphs by singing the team song ‘Underneath the Southern Cross’ all around the world, and what an honour it was to be the official song-master. Throughout this book, Ponting intertwined all aspects of his life as a professional cricketer, from the pressures of being famous, the endless support from his family and his close friends and his relationships with the press and the Australian Cricket Board. Every young aspiring cricketer should read this book, and take at least three things to heart; to believe in your ability as a cricketer, always train the house down and value your time in the Australian Cricket team.
It was a very easy read, and I found this book hard to put down at times. What was a constant though, was Ponting’s work ethic, and his quest to continually improve. From humble beginnings, Ponting built a career to world-class standards, to become one of the world’s best batsmen of his era. What also has to be taken into consideration is the amount of talent in Australia at that time, and how Ponting enjoyed a long and celebrated career.
I loved his candid reviews of his relationships with the press, and how the press can make life difficult for sportsmen. Always straight up, and honest, Ponting outlasted many of his contemporaries.
I wish I had read this book at ten years old, that’s how much of a great book it is. About continually pushing yourself, and setting goals, to being humble and appreciative.
BOOK RATING 9/10