28 July 2007

Ponting. Best since Bradman?

Hello all cricketburble readers. I'm Aussie Dave and I'm the newest cricketburbler. I'm really looking forward bringing an Australian view to the site. I've been a burble reader since the site started up, and its coverage of the English cricket summer and its issues has been exceptional. For my first post, however, I thought I'd change direction and pose a question that I've been considering for quite some time.

Is Ricky Ponting Australia's second best ever batsman? To be fair, this question should really wait until Punter has retired, but its always fun to ponder these issues. My own thoughts are that once the dust has settled on Ricky's career, he will be regarded as second only to the Don in Australia's rich batting history.

As I said, I've spent some time considering this issue, and have come up with the following contenders for the honour of Australia's second best. Clicking on a name will bring up that players cricinfo profile:

Athur Morris - 46 tests, 3533 runs, avge 46.48, 12 centuries, 1 double century, 3.83 tests/century

Neil Harvey - 79 tests, 6149 runs, avge 48.41, 21 centuries, 2 double centuries, 3.76 tests/century

Greg Chappell- 87 tests, 7110 runs, avge 53.86, 24 centuries, 4 double centuries, 3.63 tests/century

Alan Border - 156 tsets, 11174 runs, avge 50.56, 27 centuries, 2 double centuries, 5.78 tests/century

Steve Waugh - 168 tests, 10927 runs, avge 51.06, 32 centuries, 1 double century, 5.25 tests/century

Ricky Ponting - 110 tests, 9368 runs, avge 59.29, 33 centuries, 4 double centuries, 3.33 tests/century

I hope I haven't overloaded you with stats. Well, on numbers alone, Ricky Ponting is the standout of this handful of candidates. One big question mark over Ponting though, is the quality of the bowling attacks that he has plundered. There is little doubt that he has had it much easier than some of the past players, especially Allan Border, who played 31 tests against the stellarWindies attacks between 1979/80 and 1992/93. While Ponting has scored runs against quality bowlers like Shaun Pollock, Murali, Shoaib Akhtar and Curtley Ambrose, he's never really been tested by a quality attack like those of the 80's Windies sides where there were no weak links to relieve the pressure, Ashes 2005 being the obvious exception. He averaged only 39.88 in this series, but did play one of the great match saving innings with his 156 at Old Trafford.

Despite these question marks, I think Ponting still shades it just above Greg Chappell and AB, especially if you also consider his one day deeds. His consistency, the rate at which he scores his runs and the way he can dominate an attack are the clinching factors.

Comments please. Why am I wrong, and who have I overlooked?


Ed said...

Unfortunately for Ponting, not only did he not get to prove himself against the great bowlers of the 80s, but he didn't even get the opportunity to play a couple of the best bowlers of his generation in Tests, because they were playing for Australia (Warne and McGrath obviously!). So there will always be some doubt.

So it's incredibly difficult to say, given the sort of bowlers Ponting's faced. But in the absence of being able to measure that, and without stats on how many times they were all dropped or wrong decisions, (and without actually ever seeing some of these guys bat!) I'd go with your call that Ponting is the best Aussie batsman since Bradman.

Anonymous said...

Thats what makes these things so much fun to debate.....there are so many ifs, buts and maybes, nobody can ever be sure and people will always disagree.

Ed said...

does it really have to be that way? Imagine a world of cricket analysis where we can evaluate the impact in terms of number of runs of winning the toss...and we can evaluate how good the bowling a batsman like Ponting was facing through the use of technology to determine things like speed of delivery, bounce, swing, movement off the pitch etc.

It may all sound a bit much, but it's easily within the realms of possibility....and that would allow us to analyse like with like...the only downer being that there is a limit to technology being used retrospectively.

Mark Davis said...

Well I think this is where the ICC rankings come in. They claim to take into account all the variables mentioned like quality of opposition etc.

Incidentally Dave's question was the right one - referring to the best SINCE Bradman. From everything I've read Bill Ponsford was probably the second best ever. Check him out.Actually I grew up watching cricket with relatives two generations older than me and some of them saw him play and rated him even better than The Don! You should have also heard their views on Frank Woolley and Philip Mead too!