- In late 2012, a lot appeared in place for Ricky Ponting to have one memorable final hurrah in opposition to the No 1 Take a look at workforce on the planet, the Proteas
- The build-up had been each one in all stress and aid because the Australian legend admitted he wasn’t adequate to hold on, seemingly liberatin him
- Like so many different stars earlier than and after him, his swansong fell alarmingly flat
For all of the reminiscences it is created through the years, there’s an excellent motive why the overly sentimental response to the WACA in Perth finally dropping its standing as a global venue was overblown.
Granted, I solely visited the bottom seven occasions – three of them intermittently for media engagements – through the last week or so of the Proteas’ three-Take a look at tour of Australia in direction of the tip of 2012.
However I’d be mendacity to anybody studying this if I stated it is a compelling place to go to.
In a nutshell, the WACA, to me, was run-down and bleak.
The elevate to the Lillee-Marsh stand – the place you entry the media amenities – was out of order, to no-one’s shock actually.
It appeared prefer it hadn’t been serviced for the reason that floor’s first Take a look at in 1970/71 was held.
Nevertheless, I used to be extra stunned by the parochial and, frankly, insufficient media convention amenities: the subterranean fitness center beneath the gamers pavilion.
For some it might be a fond reminder of days passed by within the beginner period, when pressmen with their pens and notepads loitered outdoors changerooms for a quote or two.
To a so-called new technology journalist like myself, it felt lazy.
On November 28, Ricky Ponting walked down the passage with eldest daughter Emmy by his aspect.
His spouse, Rianna, adopted carefully behind with 15-month-old Matisse on her hips.
It did not take a lot mind energy to place two and two collectively … Australia’s most prolific batsman in historical past was going to retire from the worldwide sport.
This wasn’t precisely a shock.
The earlier yr, Ponting had been underneath immense stress from varied quarters to take inventory of the place he was going within the twilight of his profession.
He had solely made eight runs in three innings of the two-Take a look at sequence in opposition to the Proteas and went to the crease for the second innings of the second Take a look at on the Wanderers combating for his place and his legacy.
Ponting produced a dour, 138-ball 62 that went a good distance in direction of Australia squaring the sequence at one-all, memorably sealed by an 18-year-old Pat Cummins after he took 6/79 in South Africa’s second batting effort.
He adopted that up with a nice house sequence in opposition to India, the place he scored his final Take a look at double century whereas additionally including one other ton and two half-centuries to his document.
However it proved a false daybreak.
There would solely be another fifty in a tricky sequence within the Caribbean and, because the Proteas arrived because the newly-crowned No 1 workforce in Take a look at cricket, the unease over Ponting’s continued effectiveness was again.
May he summon a last few heroic deeds and, at a stretch, maintain out for another Ashes in England the following winter?
To his everlasting credit score, Ponting determined it was time to go after harvesting simply 20 runs from his three earlier visits to the crease.
Whereas it is solely apparent that it could not have been a simple resolution to make, Ponting’s case was difficult by the truth that he may simply have argued that not less than a type of dismissals had been wretchedly unfortunate.
That was the magnificent yorker Jacques Kallis castled him with on the opening morning of the second Take a look at in Adelaide.
After hitting his first supply for 4, Ponting was on the receiving finish of one of the best ball bowled on a day the place the Aussies ended on a scarcely plausible 482/5.
“On the finish of the day, my resolution was based mostly on my outcomes. On this sequence thus far they haven’t been as much as the extent required of batsmen and gamers within the Australian workforce.
“I am glad to have gotten the chance to complete on my phrases,” he stated on that chilly, blustery day in November, his eyes clearly glassy with emotion.
I used to be joyful for one in all my cricketing idols.
His legacy did not deserve to finish on a low notice.
His thoughts liberated, Ponting now had the prospect for the grandest of endings, a deciding Take a look at in opposition to one of the best Take a look at workforce on the planet.
However as I walked out of THAT fitness center, I scanned the WACA once more.
One thing felt fallacious, underwhelming.
Was this much-loved however maligned enviornment actually the place the place Ricky Ponting needed to say goodbye?
My abdomen felt a bit queasy on the second morning when Vernon Philander trapped him in entrance as Australia slipped to 43/5.
They might concede an sudden lead of 62, which the Proteas reworked right into a mammoth 631.
Once more, I used to be relieved.
Dale Steyn and co weren’t going to let that profitable platform go to waste, however I additionally felt the hopelessness of the Aussies scenario would enable Ponting the liberty for one final hurrah.
In at 81/2, the legendary right-hander did not look solely snug.
However his first two scoring pictures have been boundaries and, with nearly two days left to play, he had time on his aspect.
Robin Peterson, the identical left-arm spinner who as soon as conceded a world document 28 runs in a single over to the genius that was Brian Lara, had different concepts.
Significantly wiser and cannier, he landed one only a bit shorter of a size.
There wasn’t a lot activate supply, however the further bounce put Ponting in an ungainly place regardless of being on the again foot.
Kallis’ buckets swallowed the sting to slide.
South Africa gave him a guard of honour.
Ponting stood midway between the center and the boundary in direction of the gamers pavilion, elevating his helmet and bat like he’d scored one other double century.
The large display subsequent to the Inverarity stand had “THANKS RICKY” emblazoned in gold.
He had made eight in his last innings.
His final 11 visits produced 198 runs at a mean of 18 – in stark distinction to the 13 378 he piled up in 168 Exams.
Again within the fitness center after the Proteas secured a 309-run victory and a 1-Zero sequence, Ponting shed tears when it got here to the thank yous.
It was poignant.
However as he walked out of that cramped room and I took my last flight down the steps with damaged elevator subsequent to me, considering once more how the WACA may do with a coat of paint, I realised … it wasn’t memorable.