3 greatest batsmen of the modern era
Batting has always been the most attractive part of the gentlemen's game. From the times of Sir Don Bradman, Sir Everton Weekes, Sir Garfield Sobers, cricket's magic always lied in the art of batting.
There is something magical in that straight drive. Some kind of artistic expression in that cover drive. Some panache in that cut shot. Some sense of domineering in coming down the track to hit a six. No other part of cricket enthralls us as a classical batting exhibition does. It's a sight for the sore eyes.
Since the game's inception, many batting artists have painted on the canvas of cricket, but very select few could stand the test of time.
The batsmen that emerged from the 1990s had the talent which was unmatchable, skills which were untraceable, and the longevity which was unprecedented.
But among the plethora of batting legends that came out in the 1990s, three batsmen stood tall in terms of the impact they have had on the game. Here is an ode to these stalwarts.
#3 Ricky Ponting
Ricky Ponting's career was a mirror to Australian cricketing spirit. The toughest Aussie who never gave up would be an understatement on his marvelous career.
He was tough as nails. A character that you will hardly ever come across. Throughout his career, "Punter" was berated for not opting to play in the spirit of the game, but Australian cricket was hellbent on standing tall amongst all. Ponting never gave an inch to the opposition. He was probably the last Aussie to have followed the policy of 'battle it out till the end'.
The journey that started back in 1995 ended 17 years later. His retirement year was not a great one by the standards for a man who has probably achieved everything there is for a cricketer to be achieved on the cricket field. But, he understood it was time to pass the baton onto the next gen.
Ponting oozed professionalism throughout his magnificent career as a batsman and as a captain. In his glorious career, he came closest to Sachin Tendulkar in terms of runs scored in Test matches. He amassed a total of 13378 runs garnished with 41 centuries and 62 half centuries. In ODIs, he still remains the 3rd highest run-scorer of all time with 13704 runs which includes 30 centuries and 82 half-centuries.
One can not get away talking about Ricky Ponting without glorifying his imperious pull shot. He looked like a sculpture when he just rocked back opened the face of his blade while swiveling on his right toe and when the ball hit the sweet spot it was like watching a gladiator unleashing glory!
"Beat them, whip them and humiliate them if possible" that's Ricky Ponting captaincy in a nutshell. Everyone talks about Virat Kohli's aggressive captaincy nowadays, but to be honest he is not even half as aggressive as Ponting was. There was an aura around Ponting that he hid inside his invisible jacket, for he never wanted to be bigger than the team.
Ponting never smiled much, but when he did he made sure he had broken millions of hearts. Most of the time it was Indians who were in the receiving end. That century in the 2003 World Cup final nightmare might still haunt the Indian fans. Such was the menace of that cunning smile. It was a smile that got bigger over the years as accolades kept on piling up.
Ponting had one of the greatest cricketing decades from 2001-2009 where he scored loads of runs at an astonishing average in both the formats and won 3 World Cups as an individual. He won a bradmanesque 100-plus Test wins and 2 World Cups as a captain.
Like him or hate him but nobody can deny the fact that Ricky Ponting was one of the all-time greats. He showed why you don't have to be gifted to be great. To be a great player all it takes is hard work, perseverance, patience, and determination.
Ponting no doubt will go down as one of the greatest captains of all times, but his true greatness lied in his batsmanship.