On Thursday, Anthony Mundine for once in his colourful career said something with a lot of merit, “Age ain’t nothin’ but a thing.
“That’s what’s the problem with you people in Australia, you just think that at 37, or 31 when you’re playing football you’re done, you’re over; but you’re not done. If your desire’s there, your dedication, your hard work, your determination, that’s all you’ve got to show.”
The former Australian Test captain Ricky Ponting is echoing Mundine’s sentiments in what will be his 13th Australian summer of cricket, which starts on November 5 against the Proteas.
Just like Mundine, Ponting is also 37 and still feels he has just as much to offer now compared to ten years ago as a bellicose top-order batsman with a hook-shot like none other in world cricket.
“I wouldn’t be here as a 37 year old if I didn’t enjoy the game as much as I did,” Ponting said.
“The contest for me still means as much as ever but once that one-on-one competitiveness goes, then it’s probably time for me not to be playing.”
Ponting’s expiry date has been a point of discussion for most cricket fans ever since he sprouted a Virender Sehwag devon slice on the top of his head, but Ponting gave his strongest indication last summer he’s intent on holding his position within the highest echelon of Australian cricket.
544 runs at an average of 108.8 against India makes for impressive reading, but Ponting will be working tirelessly to be able to combat the red-hot South African pace attack of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander in a four Test series.
The Tasmanian’s audacious temperament in the middle reflects his burning desire off the field to become a better cricketer at every training session and prolong his phenomenal career.
“All I’ve ever wanted to achieve out of the game is to be a successful individual within a cricket team and hopefully do so for the remainder of my career,” said Ponting.
He says the Aussies will have to be at their best if they are to outplay the current world number one Test side.
“Every contest I’ve had with them has been enthralling whether it be one-dayers, T20s or Test cricket and at the moment they are deservedly the best team in the world,” said Ponting. “Their fast bowling attack is the best and their batting line-up is probably the best in world cricket too.
“I think we all understand and know that if we play our best cricket for long enough then we’ll beat anybody.”
Coming off a 4-0 trouncing of India last summer, Australia’s team on paper looks formidable to say the least.
Hard-hitters David Warner and Shane Watson will come before a top order of Ponting, Clarke and Hussey, who between them have amassed 25,151 runs at the combined average of 51.12, while Australia’s contingent of pace spearheads will look set to pepper the South African top order.
To back against Ricky Ponting would be like throwing $100 on a horse in the gate beside Black Caviar. He says that climbing back up the cricket rankings and regaining a winning culture like that of Steve Waugh’s side in the early 2000’s is not unachievable.
“The direction from Cricket Australia and from the playing group is that we want to get ourselves back to being the number one team in the game in all three formats,” said Ponting. “We’ll leave no stone unturned and we’ll give ourselves the best chance to do that.
“We don’t want to be taking any steps back.”
Let’s hope the only step back Ricky Ponting will be taking this summer will be to the offside, before a perfectly timed pull shot that goes for six over deep square leg’s head.