Thursday, 15 December, 2011

Tendulkar & Ponting: A tale of two cricketing legends

Team India’s tour to Australia that starts on Boxing Day (December 26) is special for more than one reason.

It might well be the last time that we see the three top-runner getters in Test Cricket history – Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Ricky Ponting in action.

For that matter, the headline for the story should have been `A tale of three Cricketing legends’, but I will go ahead with the story since all the hype is around Sachin Tendulkar and his 100th international ton and Ricky Ponting who is not sure about playing against India in the series. As usual, Rahul Dravid remains the unsung hero.

How strange! Just a couple of years ago, Dean Jones and Ian Chappell were vociferous about Ponting being on the verge of dislodging Tendulkar as one of the greatest to have played the game after the legendary Don Bradman.

Cricket is a gentleman’s game. Not playing the game as it ought to be may be the biggest difference that sets Tendulkar and Ponting poles apart, I feel.

Leave alone comparison with Tendulkar, Ponting’s 39 centuries in Test cricket was overwhelmed by the South African all-rounder Kallis (40) and another Indian, Rahul Dravid (13094) has surpassed him (Ponting 12656) as the second highest run-getter in Test Cricket history.

Both Ponting and Tendulkar in a way endorse how cricket is played by their respective countries. Long ago, Javagal Srinath who was spearheading the Indian pace attack then bowled a bouncer to Ricky Ponting that hit him on his head. Srinath was courteous enough to go down the pitch to enquire about how Ponting was feeling, rather apologetically. To Srinath’s dismay, Ponting shot back aggressively asking Srinath to carry on with his job.

A rather similar incident occurred when India toured Australia a couple of years back. Australia was trying desperately to get rid of Sachin Tendulkar who was on the verge of getting a double century. Brett Lee bowled a beamer that hit Tendulkar on his head. There was a big hue and cry in the commentary box with Ian Chappell accusing Brett Lee of using such cheap tactics to unsettle batsman when he (Lee) is not able to dismiss them. Later in a press conference, Tendulkar went on to say that he knows Lee too well as he (Lee) would never do such a thing.

Ponting, thanks to his aggressive approach (as was evident in the `monkey-gate’ scandal and the Sydney Test in 2008 when India toured Australia) has many a critic in Australian Cricket  gunning for his head after stripping him of the captaincy. He on the other hand is in no mood to let himself go even after failing to reach the three-figure mark in the last two years making his life all the more miserable.

Tendulkar (15183 test runs) in the last two years added about 13 centuries to his kitty in addition to a record first double century by any player in one day internationals to take his tally of centuries to 99 (51 in tests and 48 in one-day internationals).

No wonder Tendulkar got accolades from across the globe as a great ambassador for the game of cricket. With due respects to Ponting the cricketer, I do not see him matching up to Tendulkar in this aspect even if he goes on to find his form like Tendulkar did.

All the best Punter !

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