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Ponting's men: The best ever

india Updated: Dec 17, 2006 01:49 IST
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Mark Taylor, Mark Waugh, Steve Waugh and Michael Bevan, these Australians were no ordinary cricketers. What's common to them is that they had to retire from international cricket even when they were in decent to peak form.

The latest addition in this discreet list is Damien Martyn, indubitably one of the unsung heroes of Australian Cricket.

Martyn has scored 5346 runs in 208 ODIs with an average of 40.80. In case of Tests, in 67 matches he scored 4406 runs at an average of 46.37. He has 13 Test hundreds to his name, helping Australia to win on 10 occasions.

Martyn was in peak form, saved the last few innings at the ongoing Ashes series. He was the top scorer for Australia with 241 runs in the just concluded Champions Trophy.

And yet, the competitive cricket in Australia prevailed upon him to announce an early retirement.

In any other part of the world, a player of Martyn's calibre would have continued to grace the team for a good five years or more, but not in Australia.

Martyn realised that he was no longer able to contribute his 100 per cent as he said, "But I also said to myself that if I stayed doing what I was doing I may equally lose respect for myself and the friendship of those around me who are entitled to expect from me more than 100 per cent."

The point is that Australian cricket has razor sharp fundamentals, which are sufficiently conspicuous to the administration and the players alike. The players instead of being forced out always prefer to make honourable exit — a phenomenon rare with cricketers in other parts of the world.

No wonder, the current Australian team is getting increasingly invincible by each passing day and each passing match. The way it changed the course of the just concluded second Ashes Test in a matter of just two hours, speaks volumes about the perseverance and resourcefulness of the 'Team in Radiant Yellow'.

Not long back there was a debate, whether the current Australian side is the best of all times. The debates then were inconclusive but over time the issue has become redundant.

The supreme form of Australia in 2006, settles the above debate conclusively in favour of Ricky Ponting's men. The likes of Shane Warne, Adam Gilchrist, Glen McGrath, Ricky Ponting et al are supreme match winners in their own right.

Sample this: Australia won 20 out of 29 ODIs played this year. They have won all ODI tournaments played in 2006. In the process they also won the ICC Champions Trophy, the only major trophy to have eluded them till now.

Their record in Test cricket is even better. They have won eight out of eight Tests played in 2006. They have also won all Test series they played this year and are on course to winning the Ashes as well leading the five-match series 2-0.

Australia's performance when compared with other Test playing nations broaches interesting observations. None as interesting as this one — Australia have won more Test matches (94) since 1995 than India have won (88) in their entire Test cricketing history.

There is no stopping this Australian side. For the moment it is the greatest team to have donned the cricketing gear.

Email Kamal Kailash: kamalkailash @rediffmail.com

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