Thursday, 14 January 2010

In Between Red Wines

I saw little of the first day from Hobart, as I will likely see little of the remaining days but in between my wife's sips and spits at the various wineries around Victorian's Rutherglen, all the glimpses I got on the large screens prominent inside each of the cellar doors were of Ricky Ponting. By that stage of the afternoon, he was pushing those purposeful singles and slicing those cover dives and yes, even smashing those pulls and hooks.

Highlight packages and radio commentary suggested his day hadn't always been as such.

The man immortalised in a sub-editors nightmare which declared "Ponting To Keep Pulling" had done just that and again, should have been wondering on Ian Chappell's advice, early doors, in the southern most of Australia's cricket playing cities. He wasn't because Pakistan can't always play like they did on the first day in Sydney - in fact, they rarely do. When the magic happens, they can be world beaters but that's the trouble with magic, sharp eyes will always undo sleight of hand.

So pull and hook Ponting did but it was awful for an hour, with shots played and missed and a sconer all in the mix. Older he is, perhaps even jaded as his thirties wane but never forget, he is Ponting. The ICC says he's the best of the last ten years and frankly, looking at the time period, disagreement could at best be churlish and at its worst, stupid. I saw enough around tea to recognise the younger man in him and it was good. I have been his critic over other things, but never his batting. Today he passed three figures for the 39th time and I both salute him and shake my head at the figure. I had watched Greg Chappell make 24 and thought that remarkable and that master run accumulator, Allan Border make 27 mostly heroic hundreds.

Ponting is better than any of them. In fact, having watched them both, I can place only Tendulkar beyond him - two grand masters by all means and me left to make a hard decision.

At the other end, offering no false shots, no scramble, Michael Clarke was poised and frankly beautiful. I saw one pull shot from him and it was just a sweet swing of the bat to a ball that was only to pleased to speed to the boundary. No butchery like we might see from his Skipper just twenty odd metres away. Clarke really is classy. He may be the new Walters or the new Chappell but who cares - he's Clarke.

Australia too strong and Ponting looking at his Test highest tomorrow.

More wineries and skinny dipping for me.

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