Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Ricky Ponting's 70th 100

Pretty much all of the build-up to the Sydney test, as with pretty much every Indian game since the World Cup, has been focussed on Sachin Tendulkar's persuit of the elusive 100th international 100. Since making his 99th on the 12th March, the cricketing world has been on edge to see if the Little Master can go where no other batsman has gone before, and into triple figures for triple figure international scores.

Sachin's quest has been dragging on for a while now, and the spotlight hasn't become any less intense. On Twitter, which is always the best barometer to the cricketing world's feelings, each Sachin innings starts with a flurry of "I have a feeling, today will be the day" tweets, followed by the inevitable "Oh well, I'm sure he'll do it in the next knock". It would not be wrong of me to say that there are some more concerned about Sachin's personal scores than the state of the matches he plays in.

But ultimately, if Sachin did get to his 100th 100, it wouldn't really be that important. His place in the side doesn't rely upon it, nor would his legend be diminished if he fell narrowly short. It is solely a statistical quirk, and just an opportunity to celebrate the incredible career that the man demi-god has had. That could not be said of Ricky Ponting.

Ponting, like Sachin, is a bona fide legend, not just of our time, but of any time. Yet his search for a ton has lasted a lot longer than Sachin's, with January 2010 being the last occassion Ricky passed three figures in test cricket. Since then, the Ashes have been lost (again), the captaincy has fallen by the wayside, and an alarming dip in form has led quite a few to call for Ponting to either stand aside, or be stood aside. A few fifties in recent tests signalled some sort of revival, but without the headline grabbing hundred, Ponting would continue to be under pressure, and questions would continue to be asked.

Which is why Ponting making a hundred at the SCG was far more important or newsworthy than if Sachin had got there. Ponting's shows that he's still got the guts, ability, and run-making for test cricket, and is clearly still worth a place in this Australian team, and might be good for a Dravid style renaissance (let us not forget that The Great Wall finished 2011 as test cricket's top run scorer). Sachin's would show the ultimate endurance effort, and be the culmination of a great career, but other than an interesting statistic, it doesn't mean a great deal.

This isn't to say I won't stand and applaud if/when Sachin gets there, but at this moment in time, Ponting getting there is a far greater moment. There have been some who've called Ponting's 134 the biggest of his career, and while I wouldn't go that far, it could well be the signal of a return to the top for Punter, and for a few more years in the Aussie middle order.

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