Former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting has made an interesting revelation about his career. He says his promotion in the batting order from number six to three during the 2001 Ashes series initiated a great turnaround and gave him the opportunity to prove his worth in the team.
Before the Ashes series in England, Ponting had a horrid tour of historic tour to India, which the hosts won 2-1. Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh had made all the Australian batters, including Ponting, dance to his tunes as none of them was able to get a clue of his bowling on those typical spin-friendly Indian wickets.
The then 26-year-old’s five Test scores resembled binary code more than the output of an Australian cricketer while batting at number six :11, 0, 0, 6 and 0.
Several months later, despite his poor form, Ponting kept his place for the Ashes tour. Middle-order batsman Damien Martyn was brought along as the spare batsman and found himself in the side for the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston as Justin Langer was axed from the line-up following his poor show.
As a result, a first-drop was needed by the Australians and the then skipper Steve Waugh decided to promote Ponting to number three, which later on became his best batting position where he scored a majority of his runs .
However, it did not turn out to be fruitful from the very start for the Tasmanian’s fortunes as he scored just 60 runs in five innings across the first three Tests.
However, in the fourth Ashes Test at Headingley, Leeds, Ponting made his mark. He scored a sublime 144 off just 154 balls in the first innings and followed it up with 72 in the second.
Ponting, who had already played 42 Tests before his elevation, didn’t really feel satisfied with his role in the Australian set-up. However, this opportunity of batting at first wicket down, was a time for Ponting to make a difference.
”I never felt I was an instrumental, solid part of the team until I got the opportunity to bat at no. 3,” cricket.com.au quoted Ponting as saying while speaking to Mark Howard in the latest episode of the broadcaster’s podcast series The Howie Games.
”When I made the move up there, to me that was, “Right, now you’ve got your chance up the order”.
“A lot of people talk about the time I met (my wife) Rianna and certain things happened in my life where things really started to change, but if someone asks me I talk about getting the opportunity to bat at no. 3 in the Test team because it was the extra responsibility that came with that,” he added.
Ponting, who later on turned out to be Australia’s most successful skipper, asserted that he wanted to be the best player in the team as well as the world.
“I wanted that. I wanted to be the best player in the team, I wanted to be the best player in the world and I didn’t think I could do that from no. 6. So when I got that opportunity, that was when things started to change,” he said.
During his illustrious career of 168 Tests, Ponting, who is nicknamed as ’Punter’, scored 13,378 runs at an average of 51.85---his best efforts coming after the fall of the first wicket.
Interestingly, Virat Kohli too began his career lower down the order before moving up to No. 3 in Test matches.