Melbourne: Australia captain Ricky Ponting said he was especially proud of his 117 on the first day of the second Test against South Africa because of the bowler-friendly conditions early on.
Ponting came in to bat in the fourth over with the ball swinging and seaming on the moist pitch. He combined with Matthew Hayden in an 152-run second-wicket partnership.
The century was also Ponting’s sixth of the calendar year and took him to 1,533 runs, thus bettering his own Aussie record (1503 in 2003). “When I got out there, I was surprised by the wicket. It was quite different to what it was yesterday (Sunday),” said Ponting after Andre Nel took four late wickets to restrict the hosts to 239 for eight.
“It was pretty difficult to get set on. It was a bit damp this morning and we knew it would be a bit slow. It was a special innings for me. I was proud of the way I played.
“I had a bit of luck early on, obviously. I probably should have been caught at third slip on zero... but there wasn’t one there. I was dropped on a pretty easy chance not long after.”
Ponting, who averages almost 70 this year, said he was more interested in the team’s results than individual accolades.
“The way I play cricket is to win games and do the best for the country and the team. If I happen to be ranked number one, great. But it doesn’t mean anything to me as a player.”
Nel, whose four wickets in 25 balls ripped the heart out of Australia’s middle order, said the whole bowling attack had contributed to his good fortune.
“The Australians like to score quickly. If we can stick to good areas, with patience and get the ball to nip around, you’ve always got a chance eventually,” he said. “I think it’s working for us now and we’re bowling well as a unit.”
The pacer added some of the banter from the 71,190 crowd had inspired him. “It’s my character. The more people abuse me, the more I feed off it,” he said. “I enjoy it. I’m expecting it, so I may as well turn it into positive energy.”
Ricky PONTING ON A HIGH
During the course of his 26th Test century on Monday, Ricky Ponting crossed the 1500-run aggregate in a calendar year for the second time — a unique achievement. He now occupies the No. 3 and 4 slots in the list of top scorers in a year and can move up to second by scoring 23 in the second innings of the Melbourne Test. Following is the list of top scorers in a calendar year:
• Viv Richards — 1710 runs in 1976 (11 Tests, avge 90.00)
• Sunil Gavaskar — 1555 runs in 1979 (18 Tests, avge 59.80)
• Ricky Ponting — 1533 runs in 2005 (15 Tests, avge 69.68)
• Ponting — 1503 runs in 2003 (11 Tests, avge 100.20)
• Michael Vaughan — 1481 runs in 2002 (14 Tests, avge 61.70)
• Justin Langer — 1481 runs in 2004 (14 Tests, avge 54.85)
Note: Ponting’s 2005 figures updated till the end of Monday’s play in the Melbourne Test
Compiled by Ravi Kant Srivastava