So long, and thanks for all the runs (and wins) …

Ian “dial a quote … it was better in my day … can’t handle district cricket” Chappell will be pleased!!  Now I’m waiting for his inevitable comments about how wrong it is for him to play on.  I’m not sure if sportsbook are offering odds, but pretty sure the anti-Clarke stuff won’t take too long to flow from Chappelli’s unshuttable pie-hole.

When did Ian Chappell become the greatest ever skipper Australia has ever had?  He only won 50% of his tests as Captain – with Lilly, Thompson, Marsh, Greg (and all the others) at his disposal, and he himself only averaged in the very low 40s.  When he was out of the Aussie side (“retired”/on strike) he played for North Melbourne Cricket Club for half a season in the Melbourne District (now Premier) competition … he averaged less than 20, didn’t play Shield, but still got selected immediately for Australia in WSC.  And can anyone really explain his amazing innovative inspirational captaincy?  “Oh – I’ve got Lilly/Thompson steaming in … perhaps I should put in an extra slip” – wowee, super captaincy that … really amazing, inspired and innovative stuff! 

But I’m not going to go on about Ian Chappell too much – he’s done something I could only every do in my dreams – punch Ian Botham – and you’ve got to respect that.

He’s not the only jerk when it comes to Ponting in the press either.  At least he isn’t a complete hypocrite … Mr Peter Roebuck … COME ON DOWN … it was actually quite laughable to read his article on the disposed skipper today – suggesting it was the fickle public and press who had forgotten his brilliance over the past 6 months while going through a lean trot.  Seriously?   Mate, do you even read the drivel you come out with on a daily basis, or do you just get the intern to tap some stuff out?

Enough with the traditional press and their hypocrisy.

Justin Langer has been quoted recently as saying “Ponting is quite inspirational as a leader and I just never get all the detractors he has. Whether it’s in the fielding practice, the nets, the way he holds himself off the field—every time he speaks, these young guys just listen, they hang on every word he says.” 

Justin is well-known for his over the top platitudes.

But Alan Border isn’t.

He said “[t]he beauty of Ricky Ponting is what you see is what you get … there is no real hidden agenda … He wears his heart on his sleeve …It takes three ingredients to make a great player: determination, courage and skill, and he’s got all three in abundance.”

Good enough for me!

There have been a lot of comparisons to the “Tendulkar” experience and the hope that now Punter will experience a revival.  I hope he does.  I hope he scores another 30 tons and dominates.  But his situation is nothing like Sachin’s.  Sachin is probably the best batsman I have ever seen.  He is also one of the most selfish cricketers I have ever seen.  He makes Jacques Kallis look like a boy scout.  He was a terrible captain, absolutely terrible.  His batting suffered significantly, and was only a skipper for a very short time.  Ponting has had 7 and 9 years respectively, and has still kept pretty close to his best over that period – not his absolute best all the time, but pretty consistent – and at a pretty consistently high level.  A very different situation to Tendulkar.  I know these comments will not be popular with the deity mythology that surrounds Sachin – but I would be happy to hear any coherent argument to the contrary.

I should have a problem with Ricky Ponting – it was his ascension to Australian team that made me finally realise that I would never play for my country, and that hurt – but I don’t have a problem.  I hope he plays for a couple more years, and leaves England with a ton at the Oval and a series win.

I don’t think Ricky Ponting has been the best skipper ever to hold that position for Australia.  But he certainly isn’t the worst (that may just be about to happen). 

A lot has been said about Ricky having it easy because he had Warne, McGrath, Gilchrest, Langer, Hayden etc. 

But did he? 

The last of those great players retired over 4 years ago. 

Ricky has been test skipper for 7 years and one-day skipper for 9 – so for more than half of his test captaincy and almost half of his one-day leadership, he was without those stars – something that cannot be said for his supposedly superior predecessors (and this is certainly not a dig at two blokes I idolised as a kid, just a comment on the somewhat unreasonable and unfair expectations and blatant twenty:twenty hindsight sentimentality that he has been lumped with). 

If you look at the raw numbers, and yes stats can lie, but the raw numbers tell us he was a superior batsman to Waugh and Taylor, and a superior skipper. 

The man hadn’t captained a losing World Cup side until just over a week ago.  He lifted two Cups as skipper (and another as a player), a Champions Trophy, led a 5-0 revenge thumping of England, led the team to 16 test victories in a row, and he stuck up for Andrew Symonds when Baiji went ferrel (this actually means a hell of a lot, as – admittedly from afar – it would appear that the loss of support from his mate Clarke (as well as Cricket Australia – something I am still disgusted about and should serve to seriously taint Jimmy Sutherland’s “legacy”) was one of the biggest contributing factors to Symonds completely falling off the wagon).

Punter had a greater test (and one-day) winning percentage than both Waugh and Taylor, and over the past 4 years, he was lumped with some pretty ordinary players by a very random bunch of selections.  Yet the guy fought, he gave it his all for his team and teammates at all times, which he never publically complained about.

He wore his heart on his sleeve, and sometimes stepped over the mark (e.g., the Aleem Dar incident in Melbourne, NOT that bollocks press-led “box throwing” incident recently). 

He played hurt, and always (despite what most press and people from other countries seem to think) spoke positively of his opponents in public – in defeat and victory.  He was brilliant a couple of years ago in England when he was roundly booed by packed stadiums almost non-stop.  He laughed it off.  Almost anyone else from any other team (Murili excepted) would struggle with that, and potentially “kick off” …

Not Punter. 

He just wanted to win.

Mostly he did.

And THAT is so very Australian, and what I love about him (and his pull and cut and cover drive …)

So long Captain Punter – it was an up and down relationship – but I loved it.

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