As Ricky Ponting strode to the crease during the recently finished second test, he no doubt would have been pondering where his next big score would come from, knowing that a failure in Sydney would spell doom for his fading hopes of continuing as a test cricketer.
Ponting, at the age of thirty-seven, was fighting off the realisation that the precipice of time waits for no one as the archangel of youth marches on relentlessly despite the winds of desire willing the Tasmanian on for one final crack at the Ashes in eighteen months time.
The seventeen year veteran was doing everything in his power to arrest a form slump like none he had ever experienced before. He had forsaken the enticing nectar that is the IPL over the last couple of years to concentrate on the longer version of the game. So easily he could have succumbed and joined the legions of *spoilt brats and fat cats* (Christine Brennan-USA Today) of the IPL.
But he knew what really mattered to him; the baggy green cap that he aspired to as a boy growing up, and has cherished for so much of his adult life. He wasn’t about to throw in the towel despite calls from a long line of doubters.
And even though everyone has to pay the piper at some stage in their career, Ponting wasn’t about to submit just yet. That the piper was at the door heartily forcing his way in mattered not to one of the all-time greats of the batting craft. He was going out on his terms, come hell or high water.
Success, at the SCG, didn’t instantly take a liking to this father of two.
More often than not he could be seen over-balancing as he attempted to recapture his glory days with shots into the leg side. Particularly the pull shot. Yes, the shot that Ponting is best known for. It would not cooperate, though.
There is an old saying: win me and wear me, but until then don’t treat me as a trophy. Ponting had won over the pull shot many a year ago. It was his signature - his trophy. But that trophy was gradually slipping from his hands. Until, suddenly, the man somehow, some way, had found the will to reassert himself.
There was to be no stopping him now.
Gone was the dithering, out of form Ricky Ponting. Now here was the great we had all become accustomed to watching since 1995. If he wasn’t back to his majestical best, he was fast closing in on it as he tore the Indian bowling attack asunder.
That pull shot went on to dominate. It’s no ham on rye, for sure. He may as well have put a patent on it, so resounding was his use of it, for so long.
Everyone is guilty of something in life. With Ponting, it is suffering from extreme bouts of brilliance. This was to be his fortieth test century.
Will there be more? Will the former captain make it through to the Ashes in 2013?
Who really knows. After all, many of us had written him off. We almost pleaded with him to call it a day, for his own sake, as it seemed so unbecoming for the great man to be afflicted by a seemingly incurable fall from cricketing grace.
We thought we knew - but didn’t. We were all so wrong.
Ponting had persevered, put faith in his ability to perform and, in the end, was rewarded for that persistence.
With any luck we will all be treated to more of his batting magic during the third test in Perth.
And for a few years to come.