Cricket: Ricky Ponting's place among modern greats

Ricky Ponting
Ricky Ponting
There is no doubt the just-retired Ricky Ponting was one of the most successful and uncompromising batsmen of his generation. But is he really the best his country has produced since the great Sir Don Bradman? Cricket writer Adrian Seconi ranks Australia's top 10 since the Don.

1: Greg Chappell
7110 runs at 53.86

Every era has its champions and, like Ponting, Greg Chappell was the best Australian batsman of his generation. Unlike Ponting, he got to face the fearsome West Indies attack with a bat which was little more than a twig by today's standards, the boundaries went all the way to the fence and batsmen were still getting used to the idea of wearing a helmet.

Chappell also boasted a test average of 53.86, which was streaks ahead of most contemporaries. Kim Hughes (37.41), Ian Redpath (43.45), Ian Chappell (42.42), Bob Simpson (46.81) and Doug Walters (48.26) all enjoyed impressive careers but could not match Greg's hunger for runs, whereas Ponting's (51.85) contemporaries, players such as Matthew Hayden (50.73), Steve Waugh (51.06), Adam Gilchrist (47.60), Damien Martyn (46.37) and Michael Clarke (51.72), kept pace with his production.

2: Allan Border
11,174 runs at 50.56

Perhaps no-one was more fanatical about preserving his wicket. Border possessed more shots than he displayed in the test arena but then he played and led a team which was in dire need of his steely determination.

Watching Ponting pivot into pull shots and dispatch cover drives was far more entertaining but aesthetics alone do not make you a better batsman.

Like Chappell, Border was just that much better than his peers and arguably more dominant in his era than Ponting ever was.

3: Ricky Ponting
13,378 runs at 51.85

Ponting was sawn-off on test debut for 96 and some will say he has been sawn-off again here. He is on top of the two most important lists, though. He has scored more runs and centuries for Australia than anyone else and his place among the game's greats is secure.

While many consider Ponting to be Australia's second greatest batsman, he played in an era when many of his team-mates were able to average 50-plus and closely matched his efforts.

Regardless, watching Ponting swivel into a pull shot or punch a drive down the ground was a treat no matter where you place the champion batsman in the pecking order.

4: Steve Waugh
10,927 runs at 51.06

It is a toss up whether you would want Steve Waugh or Allan Border more next to you in the trenches. Both developed reputations as gritty cricketers who fought for every run.

5: Michael Clarke
6673 runs at 51.72

The Australian captain has been in the sort of form which would have pleased even Bradman. Clarke has scored a triple century and three double centuries this year. Another couple of years like that and he would go straight to the top of this list.

6: Neil Harvey
6149 runs at 48.41

The gifted left-handed batsman utilised a superb technique and amazing concentration in a career in which he scored 21 centuries and 24 50s in 79 matches.

7: Matthew Hayden
8625 runs at 50.73

The powerful left-handed bullied the bowling and forged an impressive career which featured 30 test centuries. He also formed one of the great opening partnership with Justin Langer.

8: Adam Gilchrist
5570 runs at 47.60

Played the way every schoolboy dreams of playing. Scored almost 82 runs for every 100 balls faced and could turn a game with a few flashes of his blade.

9: Doug Walters
5357 runs at 48.26

Played an instinctive brand of cricket which thrilled and delighted spectators but he could also absorb pressure and dig in when the occasion called for it.

10: Bob Simpson
4869 runs at 46.81

Succeeded through hard work and dedication. Fashioned a superb opening partnership with Bill Lawry and tailored his game to meet the team's needs.



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