Ricky Ponting’s legacy as a batsman is quite safe. He will be mentioned in the same breath as Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Jacques Kallis. A look at his career statistics will justify such a lofty standing. Ponting has scored more than 13,000 runs in Tests and one-dayers, and aggregated 71 international hundreds; the Tasmanian has won three consecutive World Cups, two as captain, and he has also been part of 100 Test wins for Australia. It’s an awesome record — one that any cricketer would love to cherish. But Ponting is not just about those records; there was a certain brashness about him, perhaps an Australian trait, that separates him from many of his contemporaries. Dravid was the articulate statesman, Tendulkar gave his opinions sparingly, and Kallis ever the prosaic professional.
But Ponting expressed his views candidly whether one agreed with him or not. On the field he always stood by his team and his mates. During India’s tour of Australia in 2008, Ponting had to take a lot of stick -- even from the usually supportive Aussie media -- for his unsportsman-like behaviour during the whole series, specially the Sydney Test that Kumble’s men ‘won and lost.’ There never was a word of apology from Ponting or regrets over the chain of events that almost ruined diplomatic relations between India and Australia. But that was Ponting: blunt and forthright. Ponting also belonged to a generation of Australian cricketers who viewed India as their ‘final frontier.’ The list includes the likes of Steve Waugh, Matthew Hayden, Shane Warne and Brett Lee, who played along side him.
But unlike the quartet, Ponting never made, or didn’t seem to have made any effort to create a connection with India. The senior Waugh has endeared himself to Indians through his work with Udayan, a Kolkata-based charity, while Hayden, Warne and Lee have made India almost their second home through long stints with various teams in the Indian Premier League and related promotional activities. Though Ponting played a season for Kolkata Knight Riders, he kept a distance from the Indian public, who gave him the respect a great batsman deserved. But warmth was, perhaps, lacking in that relationship. The same could be said about his relations with other cricket-playing countries. However, nowhere in those regions would his stature as a quality batsman and a tough competitor would be questioned.