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Ricky Thomas Ponting (born 19 December 1974 in Launcestonmarker, Tasmaniamarker, Australia), nicknamed Punter, is the current captain of the Australian cricket team. He is a specialist right-handed batsman, slips and close catching fielder, as well as a very occasional bowler. He represents the Tasmanian Tigers in Australian domestic cricket and plays in the Indian Premier League with the Kolkata Knight Riders.

Ponting made his first-class debut for Tasmania in November 1992, when just 17 years and 337 days old-becoming the youngest Tasmanian to play in a Sheffield Shield match. However he had to wait until 1995 before making his One Day International debut, during a quadrangular tournament in New Zealandmarker in a match against South Africa. His Test debut followed shortly after, when selected for the first Test of the 1995 home series against Sri Lanka in Perth, in which he scored 96. He lost his place in the national team several times in the period before early-1999, due to lack of form and discipline, before becoming One Day International captain in early-2002 and Test captain in early-2004.

After being involved in over 130 Tests and 300 ODIs, Ponting is Australia's leading run-scorer in Test and ODI cricket, with more than 23,000 international runs as of September 2009. He has scored 38 Test centuries—behind only Indian Sachin Tendulkar (43)—and third for most runs and centuries in ODIs behind Tendulkar and Sanath Jayasuriya.

Birth and personal life

Born in Launcestonmarker, Tasmaniamarker on 19 December 1974, Ricky Ponting is the eldest of Graeme and Lorraine Ponting's four children. Graeme was "a good club cricketer" and played Australian rules, while Lorraine was a state vigoro champion. His uncle Greg Campbell played cricket for Australia in 1989 and 1990. Ponting's parents first lived in Prospectmarker south of city centre; however, they moved into the working-class area of Newnham, north of central Launceston.

After marrying long-time girlfriend—law student Rianna Jennifer Cantor—in June 2002, Ponting credited her as the reason for his increased maturity. On 26 February 2008, it was announced that they were expecting their first child. Daughter Emmy Charlotte was born in Sydney, Australia on 26 July 2008.

Junior ranks

Introduced to cricket by father Graeme and uncle Greg Campbell, Ponting played for the Mowbray Under–13s team at the age of 11 in 1985-86. In January 1986, he took part in the five day annual Northern Tasmania junior cricket competition. After scoring four centuries in a week, bat manufacturer Kookaburra gave Ponting a sponsorship contract while in just eighth grade mainly on the back of these four centuries. Ponting took this form into the Under-16s week-long competition less than a month later, scoring an even century on the final day. Ted Richardson, the former head of the Northern Tasmanian Schools Cricket Association said: "Ricky is certainly the equal of David Boon at this level.

Australian Rules football was also a big part of Ponting's sporting life. During the winter he played junior football for North Launceston and up until he was 14, it could have become a possible sporting option. This was before he broke the humerus in his right arm playing for North Launceston Under–17s as a 13 year-old. Ponting's arm was so badly damaged, it had to be pinned. Told to endure a 14-week lay-off, he never played competitive football again.

During Tasmanian Sheffield Shield matches at the Northern Tasmanian Cricket Association Groundmarker (NTCA Ground), Ponting helped out with the scoreboard, thereby surrounding himself with international cricketers. After leaving school at the end of year 10 in 1990, he began work as a groundsman at Scotch Oakburn Collegemarker, a private school in Launceston. In 1991 the Northern Tasmanian Cricket Association sponsored Ponting to attend a fortnight's training at the Australian Institute of Sportmarker's Cricket Academy in Adelaide. The two weeks turned into a full two-year sponsorship as he was acclaimed to be the best 17 year-old batsman, Academy coach Rod Marsh had ever seen.

Playing five games for Tasmania for the 1992 Under–19 carnival in Perthmarker, Ponting scored 350 runs, earning him selection in the 13-man national Under–19 development squad for the upcoming tour of South Africa—the first Australian cricket team to make an official tour to the country since Bill Lawry's team in 1970.

Early Australian domestic career

Ponting in his batting kit.
After scoring 114 not out in club match against Riverside, Ponting became the youngest player to appear for Tasmania in a Sheffield Shield match, breaking Boon's record by 14 days. In November 1992, with Ponting just 17 years and 337 days, he strode out to the crease at number four against South Australia at the Adelaide Ovalmarker. Despite scoring 56 in a 127-run partnership with Boon, he could not prevent a defeat, scoring just four in Tasmania's second innings. In his first match in Tasmania, this time against New South Wales, Ponting contributed 32 and 18 in a draw. He followed this up with 25 against Western Australia in a narrow loss. His first match in Sydney also marked the debut of future Australian opening bowler Glenn McGrath. His subsequent century also meant that Ponting became the youngest Tasmanian to score a first-class century at 18 years and 40 days, eclipsing Boon's record of 19 years and 356 days. After scoring another half century, Ponting scored back to back centuries against Western Australia on Australia's fastest wicket in Perthmarker. He become the youngest batsmen in Shield history to score twin centuries in a match. After setting a goal of scoring 500 runs in the season, he ended up scoring 781 at 48.81. After season's end, Ponting played seven four-day games for the Australian Academy, scoring 484 runs at 96.70, even though he was still only 18.

Speculation ignited that Ponting was an outsider to join the Australian squad on their 1993 tour to England. Despite Ponting's reluctance to weigh into the debate Shipherd though he could handle the experience." The selectors ended up choosing Western Australian batsman Damien Martyn for the tour, with Ponting selected in the Academy squad captained by Justin Langer, which toured India and Sri Lanka for seven games in August-September 1993. Australian success was limited, with only several wins. No batsman scored a century, despite Ponting reaching 99 not out in a one-day game in Colombomarker. He finished the tour second highest in the aggregates, behind Langer.
Ponting signing autographs in Sydney, 2005
Before the start of the 1993–94 Sheffield Shield season, Ponting stated that he wanted to score 1000 runs for the season. In Tasmania's final match of the season, they needed to defeat South Australia outright to qualify for the final. Set 366 in 102 overs, Ponting scored 161 in a 290-run partnership that ended with Tasmania needing just 41 runs for victory. Despite Tasmania losing four quick wickets, they won with four wickets in hand. Disappointingly for Ponting, he could not repeat the performance in the final against New South Wales, scoring just one and 28, as Tasmania were defeated by an innings and 61 runs. The season saw Ponting score 965 runs at 48.25, close to his 1000 run goal.

A month after the final, he was again selected for the Academy squad for three limited overs matches against a touring Indian team. Queenslander Stuart Law captained the Australian side that included former Australian keeper Rod Marsh. In Australia's victory in Canberramarker he top scored with 71 and before scoring 52 in victory in Sydney. The last match was also successful for the home team, with Ponting not required to bat.

Ponting started his 1994–95 campaign with a century against eventual Shield champions Queensland in Brisbane, impressing Queensland captain Allan Border, "He's just an outstanding prospect," Border said.Speculation once again arose that Ponting could become a candidate for upcoming tour to the West Indies. When Tasmania played Western Australia at Bellerive Ovalmarker on November 4, 1994, Ponting scored 211. The century was his fifth successive against Western Australia-Sir Donald Bradman is the only other batsman to score five consecutive centuries against another state in Shield history. Ten days after the double century, Ponting was named in the Australian XI to take on England at Bellerive Ovalmarker—in a match that was used as practice before the upcoming series in the West Indies. Future Australian representatives Matthew Hayden, Langer, Greg Blewett and Martyn were also selected. In a drawn match Ponting compiled a half-century.

A fourth team was introduced to the World Series Cup in 1994–95—Australia A—for the only time. Something the Australian captain Mark Taylor was not a fan of, as many fan were supporting Australia A. Despite the negative feedback, it gave Ponting a chance on the international stage. Playing for Australia A, he scored 161 runs 26.83 with one half-century.

Early International career

Australian debut

Ponting's domestic performances were rewarded when he was selected for the Australian ODI team to play in the 1995 quadrangular tournament in New Zealandmarker. Ponting made his debut against South Africa, scoring one from six balls. He played in all of Australia's matches, aggregating 80 runs at 40.00, highlighted by a 62 against India in Dunedinmarker, a match that Australia lost. He was selected for the subsequent tour of the West Indies, and although he played in two more ODIs, scoring 43 runs at 21.50, he watched from the dressing room as his teammates reclaimed the Frank Worrell Trophy. McGrath took the approach of bouncing the West Indies team including the bowlers, Ponting said:

He made his Test debut in the First Test against Sri Lanka in December 1995 at the WACA Groundmarker in Perthmarker, replacing Greg Blewett, who had been dropped because of his struggles against spin bowling in the preceding series against Pakistan. However, due to Steve Waugh's absence through injury, Ponting batted at No. 5. Dismissed lbw to Chaminda Vaas for 96, many argue it was an incorrect decision due to excessive height. He combined with Stuart Law, also playing on debut, for a partnership of 121. This was only the ninth ever century partnership by debutants in Test cricket.

Ponting added 71 in the Second Test at the MCG and ended his debut Test series with 193 runs at 48.25, which Australia swept 3–0.

Ponting became a regular member of the ODI team, playing in all of Australia's matches during the triangular series. Ponting started the series at No. 4 but moved up a position midway through the season, after opener Michael Slater was dropped.

He broke through for his maiden ODI century in his 12th match, scoring 123 from 138 balls against Sri Lanka at the MCG. Ponting ended the tournament with 341 runs at 34.10, with one century and three fifties.

Ponting attended the 1996 Cricket World Cup on the Indian subcontinent, where he batted in the No. 3 position, and became the youngest batsman to score a World Cup century, when he scored 102 runs from 112 balls in a group match against the West Indies in Jaipurmarker. He scored 45 from 73 balls in the final at the Gaddafi Stadiummarker in Lahoremarker, which Australia lost to Sri Lanka. Ponting ended his first World Cup campaign with 229 runs at 32.71. Another pair of ODI tournaments on the subcontinent in late-1996 yielded 168 runs at 28.00 from seven matches.

With the retirement of fellow Tasmanianmarker David Boon, Ponting was elevated to the No. 3 position in the Test team, and his first assignment in his new role came in a one-off Test against India at the Feroz Shah Kotlamarker in Delhimarker. Ponting made 13 and 14 in a seven-wicket defeat. It was a portent of Ponting's future Test struggles in India.

Ponting continued in the role for the series against the West Indies in 1996–97 in Australia. After two Test matches and three scores under 10, he was replaced by Justin Langer, despite scoring 88 in his first innings in the role. He was out of the team for six months, and missed the remaining three Tests against the West Indies, the three Tests on the tour to South Africa. He was selected for the 1997 Ashes tour of England but was confined to the dressing room until Michael Bevan was dropped due to poor form. Returning for the Fourth Test at Leeds in July 1997, he scored his first Test century (127, batting at No. 6). He played the last three Tests and ended the series with 241 runs at 48.20. At the time Australia had a policy of the selecting the same team for ODIs, so Ponting only played in three ODIs in early stages of the 1996–97 season in Australia, scoring 68 runs at 22.66 in December 1996 before being dropped.

Ponting scored 119 runs at 39.66 in the three-Test home series against New Zealand in 1997–98, scoring a breezy 73 not out from 85 balls in the second innings of the First Test in Brisbane to help Australia set a winning target. He then made his first Test century on Australian soil, scoring 105 in the First Test against South Africa at the MCG. He added a fifty in the next match and ended the series with 248 runs at 49.60. Ponting has his most successful ODI season to date, scoring 462 runs at 57.75 in the annual tri-series, including a 100 against New Zealand and three fifties. The 100 was Ponting's third ODI century, but Australia had lost all three matches. He scored 76 in the third and deciding final against South Africa, which Australia won.

In a brief four-match ODI tour of New Zealand at the end of the season, Ponting scored 76 runs at 25.33.

1998 tours of the subcontinent

Just 10 days after their tour of New Zealand, Australia played in a first-class warm-up match in India, ahead of their three match Test series. Sachin Tendulkar struck a double century in the opening warm-up match as the Australian bowlers struggled to cope with the conditions. Ponting came into the Test series with scores of 53, 37 and 155 behind him. Batting at five and seven in the batting order respectively, he scored 18 in the first innings and two in the second on a "dusty turning track" in the opening Test in Chennai. Despite conceding a 71 first innings lead, Tendulkar struck 155 in India's second innings, as India won by 169 runs. Australia suffered further humiliation in the second Test at Eden Gardensmarker. India—whom amassed 5/633 in reply to Australia's 233—went onto win by an innings and 16 runs, as Ponting scored 60 and nine.

Several days after the match, Ponting was thrown out of Equinox night club in Kolkatamarker. The Indian media reported that Ponting was misbehaving with several women in the nightclub. Ponting was fined $1000 by Australian team management for the incident, and later apologised to staff. Ponting later wrote:

Harbhajan Singh bowling in the nets.
In the following Test in Bangaloremarker, Australia won their first Test in India for 29 years. Tendulkar's first innings 177 not out gave India a slender first innings lead. Ponting scored 16 his only innings as Australia won by eight wickets. He finished the series with 105 runs at 21.00 as the hosts took the Tests 2–1.

Despite a poor Test series, Ponting's form in ODIs remained strong. In consecutive tournaments in India and Sharjah following the Tests, Ponting scored 467 runs at 51.88. In addition to three fifties, Ponting scored 145 from 158 balls in the Pepsi Cup against Zimbabwe in Delhimarker, equalling Dean Jones' Australian record.

Ponting also had his first confrontation with Harbhajan Singh, an Indian off spinner who went on to have much success against him. In a Coca-Cola Cup series ODI against India in April, he and Mark Waugh put on more than 80 runs in 12 overs before Harbhajan was introduced into the attack. In the spinners second over, Ponting took him for four then lofted him over mid-wicket for six next ball. The following delivery saw Ponting use his feet in an attempt to get to the pitch of the ball but missed the shot and was consequently stumped. After the dismissal the pair clashed verbally. Ponting wrote, "The Sharjah incident was the result of me being over-competitive but it had the potential to get quite nasty. I was really disappointed with the shot I played [to get dismissed] and when I looked up Harbahjan was right in my face giving me the finger [gesturing for Ponting to leave the ground with his index finger] and really mouthing off. Had he been a few more metres away from me I would have not reacted like I did or at the most I would have given him a bit of lip as I walked past. I just over-reacted to the provocation." Both players were consequently fined ($500) and reprimanded by the match referee, with Harbhajan also suspended for a single ODI as he was adjudged to have breached the ICC Code of Conduct.

On the subsequent tour of Pakistan less than six months later, Ponting was dropped in favour of Darren Lehmann. The left-hander was perceived to be a better player of spin and a better prospect on the dry pitches of the Indian subcontinent than Ponting. In the first Test staring in October, Lehmann scored 98 in Rawalpindimarker, as Australia won their first Test in Pakistan in 39 years. Ponting's only Test outing was in a high-scoring second Test draw in Peshawarmarker, when he scored 76 not out and 43 as Lehmann was injured. The match saw Mark Taylor equal Don Bradman's Australian record score of 334, when he declared Australia's innings overnight on 4/599, despite being not out. Ponting was replaced by Lehmann for the final Test.

In between the Tests and the ODIs, Australia were knocked out of the 1999 Wills International Cup, starting in late October, when they were defeated by India in their opening match. In a knockout based tournament, Tendulkar scored 141 in India's total of 307; meanwhile, Ponting managed a 53 ball 41, in a 44 run defeat. In a tournament hosted in Bangladesh, South Africa were eventual victors, defeating the West Indies in the final.

He played in all the following ODIs against Pakistan, which Australia won 3–0. In the final match, Ponting scored 124 not out from 129 balls, as Australia chased down 316 with six wickets to spare. He finished the series with 215 runs at 107.50.

1998–99 Ashes

However, when the Australians returned for the home series against England, Ponting was recalled in place of Lehmann, despite the latter's form in Pakistan. This was explained on the basis of "horses for courses"; it was reasoned that Ponting would be more effective against England's pace-oriented bowling attack. However, Ponting struggled in the first three Tests, scoring 47 runs at 11.75, and Lehmann regained his spot for the last two matches. He had played 22 Tests by the end of 1998, with 1,209 runs at an average of 36.63. He was a permanent fixture in the ODI team throughout this period, and scored 322 runs at 46.00 during the Carlton & United series of 1998–99.

During the CUB series, Ponting was involved in a fight outside a pub in Kings Cross, New South Walesmarker, and earned a suspension from the national team. He sustained a black eye in the fight. Forced, to front a media conference with the black eye, Ponting admitted that he suffered from alcoholism, and sought external help to attend to this problem.

The road back

Lehmann failed to make an impact and was dropped from the Test squad, while Ponting was recalled for the 1999 tour of the West Indies, with Ponting's ability against pace being emphasised; the West Indies typically relied entirely on pacemen. Ponting scored 104 batting at No. 6 when recalled to the starting XI for the 3rd Test. In Australia's first series under Steve Waugh's captaincy, Ponting was unable to force his way into the side in the first two tests. Number 3, Justin Langer had cemented his spot and Greg Blewett in good form at number six - especially against the fast West Indian attack. Before the third Test, Blewett suffered a hand injury, and Ponting was recalled into the side. On a pitch that according to Tony Cozier "... rapidly lost its early morning life under the influence of a hot sun and strong breeze," Ponting - who came to the crease with the score at 4-144 - joined Steve Waugh in a 281 partnership. [54354] After Waugh survived one of Ambrose's 'more threatening spells', he (141) and Ponting (65) ended the opening day with Australia in the box seat. Waugh later wrote "Ricky batted with maturity and even temperament associated with the champions of the game."

First World Cup success (1999) and tour of Sri Lanka

Australia started their 1999 World Cup campaign in England with success against minnows Scotland, before defeats to Pakistan and New Zealand. Ponting scored, 33, 47 and 47 respectively. After the twin defeats, pundits doubted whether Australia could make the semi-finals let alone win the tournament. Australia then defeated Bangladesh with 30 overs to spare, as he batted out of his usual number three spot for the only time in the tournament. In an attempt to increase the run-rate with pinch hitter Brendon Julian, Ponting scored an unbeaten 18 from 10 balls at number four. then played in the victorious 1999 World Cup team in England. He made a start in every match, reaching 20 in every completed innings. Ponting scored 24 in the final against Pakistan, and ended the tournament with 354 runs at 39.33.

Ponting was one of Australia's few effective players during their three-Test tour of Sri Lanka, which was lost 1–0. In the First Test defeat at Kandymarker, Ponting scored 96 and 51, almost half of Australia's match total of 328 runs. He scored 105 not out in the Third Test in Colombo and ended the series with 253 runs at 84.33. He scored 31 as Australia won their inaugural Test against Zimbabwe by nine wickets. In the ODI series against the respective countries, Ponting scored 288 runs at 57.60 with two fifties.

Pakistan, India in Australia, 1999–00

Ponting started the 1999–2000 season poorly, with ducks in his first three Test innings in the series against Pakistan, including a pair on his home ground Bellerive Ovalmarker. He ended the run in style, scoring 197 in the Third Test at the WACA. Australia won the series 3–0 and Ponting then scored 125 in the First Test against India at the Adelaide Oval. He finished with an unbeaten 141 in the Third Test at the SCG, the culmination of another Australian whitewash. Ponting was the leading scorer for the series, making 375 runs at 125.00.

He scored 242 runs at 40.33 in the five-Test series against the West Indies in 2000–01, with a top-score of 92.

Defeat in India and 2001 Ashes

Injury aside (he missed a three-Test tour of New Zealand in early 2000 after hurting his ankle in a fielding mishap in an ODI Final at Sydney), his position was now secure in spite of a run of poor form in 2001—this included 17 runs at an average of 3.4 in three Tests in India, dismissed all five times by Harbhajan Singh. Ponting had a habit of instinctively rocking onto the front foot and thrusting his wrists at Harbhajan's deliveries and was frequently caught in the bat pad positions because of this.

Despite this recent run of poor scores, Ponting was promoted to the key No. 3 position in the Australian batting order at the expense of the dropped Justin Langer, while Damien Martyn took Ponting's former spot at No. 6, for the very next Test series, the 2001 Ashes tour of England. Ponting began the series poorly, scoring 11, 14, 4, 14 and 17-the first four dismissals all to Darren Gough-before returning to form in the Fourth Test at Leeds, scoring 144 and 72 in a dead-rubber. He scored his 216 runs in only 226 balls. In doing so, he repeated his feat in 1997 of returning to form at Headingley. He ended the series with 338 runs at 42.25. Starting with that 2001 Ashes series he has batted No. 3 in all but four of his Test innings. Despite his initial failure, Ponting has averaged 64.34 since his promotion, scoring 30 of his 37 centuries in this position.

New Zealand and South Africa in Australia, 2001–02

The touring New Zealanders were not expected to provide much of a challenge to the in-form Australians during the three-match Test series starting in November. The opening Test in Brisbane, saw the tourists came within 11 runs of victory, before the Test was drawn; partly to do with inc-limit weather. Ponting scored five and a run-a-ball 32 not out in Australia's second innings, as they pushed for a declaration. After scoring 4, 0 and 0 in his previous Test outings at Bellerive Ovalmarker, Ponting broke through with a man-of-the-match performance of 157 not out in the Second Test, before further rain resulted in another draw. The result of the Third Test in Perth was no different, with Ponting scoring 31 and 26. Set a record 440 to win, Australia finished on 7/381 at stumps on the final day, despite half-centuries from Gilchrist and the Waugh twins.

He had an otherwise uneventful Australian Test season against New Zealand and South Africa, adding a fifty to end with 366 runs at 52.28.

ODI captaincy

Appointment as ODI captain for tour of South Africa and 2002 Champions Trophy

Although the Test team had continued to perform well, sweeping South Africa 3–0 in the home series in 2001–02, the One-Day International (ODI) team suffered a slump, failing to qualify for the finals of the triangular tournament, leading to the dropping of Steve Waugh from the one-day team in February 2002. Ponting was elevated to the captaincy, ahead of then vice-captain Adam Gilchrist. The fortunes of the ODI team revived immediately, and the Ponting's men won their first series during the tour of South Africa, defeating the team that had won the tournament that ended Waugh's reign.

Following his elevation to the ODI captaincy, Ponting played a prominent role in the Test tour to South Africa. He scored 100 not out to steer Australia to a four-wicket win in the Second Test in Cape Town, bringing up the winning runs with a six from the bowling of Paul Adams. He struck 89 in the Third Test and ended the series with 308 runs at 77.25 with a strike rate of 76.48.

Tri Nations tournament in Kenya and neutral venues series against Pakistan, 2002

Ponting was prominent in the 3–0 whitewash of Pakistan on neutral territory in late-2002. He struck 141 in the First Test in Colombo and 150 in the Third Test in Sharjah to end with 342 runs at 85.50.

2002–03 Ashes

The success continued through the 2002–03 ODI series in Australia. Winning the finals series against England 2–0.Ponting started the 2002–03 Australian season with 123 in the First Test in Brisbane, and 154 in the Second Test at Adelaide against England, meaning that he had scored four centuries in five Tests. Australia won the latter match by an innings and Ponting scored 68 in the Third Test in Perth as Australia took an unassailable 3–0 lead. He was unable to pass fifty in the final two Tests and ended the series with 417 runs at 52.12. Australia won the VB series held between and after the Tests.

2003 World Cup success and tour of the West Indies

Australia hit trouble on the personnel front in the lead up to the World Cup. Lehmann was handed a seven-match ban for racial abuse, the world's number 1 ranked ODI batsman Michael Bevan was injured, as was all rounder Shane Watson, who had to withdraw from the World Cup. At the time, another allrounder Andrew Symonds had been performing poorly and had been heavily maligned by cricket analysts, but Ponting strongly advocated his inclusion. The selectors granted Ponting his wish, although the decision was considered highly controversial, especially with Waugh campaigning for his recall as an allrounder.

A few days before the tournament started, Australia were in further turmoil, when leading bowler Shane Warne was sent home after failing a drugs test, and a replacement could not be flown in until after the first match. With Bevan and Lehmann still sidelined, Australia went into their opening match with little choice over their lineup, and Symonds having to play. However, Symonds repaid Ponting's faith with an unbeaten 140 after Australia lost three quick wickets to be in early trouble. Australia crushed Pakistan, and gained further momentum by defeating India by nine wickets in less than half their allotted overs in the next match. Symonds continued to put in a series of match-winning performances and continued to be strongly backed by Ponting from then on.

Notwithstanding two near-misses against England and New Zealand, Ponting led his team to a dominant, undefeated, performance in the 2003 Cricket World Cup, winning all 11 of their matches. In the Final, they met India , who they had crushed in the group stage. Indian captain Sourav Ganguly controversially sent the Australians in to bat, citing cloud cover, but Ponting's batsmen attacked immediately and put the Indian bowlers under pressure. They went on to score 2/359, a record for a world cup final by over 100 runs. Ponting top-scored with a brilliant 140 not out from 121 balls. India's batsman could not cope with the target, and were defeated by a record (for World Cup Final matches) 125 runs. "I have had some amazing times and some proud moments in my career, but the events at the Wanderers have topped the lot. Lifting the World Cup alongside 20 other proud Australians ... [It is] without doubt the best moment of my cricketing life."

During the tour of the West Indies in April and May, Ponting played in the first three Tests before missing the Fourth Test. He struck a century in each of the matches: 117 in the First Test in Georgetown, Guyanamarker, 206 in the Second Test in Port-of-Spainmarker and 113 in the Third Test in Bridgetown, Barbadosmarker. Ponting ended the series with 523 runs at 130.75 and Australia won all of the matches in which he played.

5000 Test runs: Bangladesh and Zimbabwe in Australia and ODI series in India, 2003–04

Ponting then scored 10 and 59 as Australia recorded comfortable innings victories in their inuaugural series against Bangladesh, played in Darwin and Cairnsmarker in the tropical north of Australia in the winter of 2003. In the third and final match of the ODI series following the Tests, Ponting scored a composed century, as he and Michael Bevan put on a run-a-ball 127 run stand. Strangely, Ponting's 14th ODI century, included only two fours, despite hitting four sixes.

Australia's cricket summer started in October; a month earlier than usual because of their upcoming ODI series in India following their home series against Zimbabwe. Due to the seasons early start, many of the Australian players were without match fitness. McGrath missed the series with an ankle injury; while there were concerns about whether Australia should be playing African country because of Robert Mugabe's regime. The first Test started on 9 October in Perth, as Australia started strongly batted first against a Zimbabwean bowling attack that lacked penetration on a flat WACA wicket. However, Ponting was dismissed leg before wicket for 37, while Hayden went onto break Brian Lara's world record Test score of 375. Australia won the Test by a comfortable innings and 175 runs on the final day. Although they were not without injuries, as Stuart MacGill (discomfort behind his right knee) and Jason Gillespie (side strain) both left the field injured on day three. The injuries to the bowling duo meant Australia used part timers, Lehmann, Martyn, Waugh and Ponting for 57 overs in Zimbabwe's second innings to give the strike bowlers a rest. The heavy bowling workload on Lehmann therefore caused him to tear a muscle in his left Achilles tendon. An inexperienced Australian team won the next Test at the SCG by nine wickets; sweeping the series 2-0. Ponting struck 169 and 53 not out, and passed 5,000 Test runs in his first innings century. The Australian number three ended the two-match series with 259 runs at 129.50. In the midst of the lack of public attention and poor crowds, Ponting wrote how he was unsure whether Bangladesh and Zimbabwe should be playing Test cricket:

Australia flew to India two day after the conclusion of the Zimbabwean series to play in the TVS Cup cup against India and New Zealand. They opened their campaign on 26 October against India in Gwaliormarker, but where defeated by 37 runs, as Ponting was dismissed for two. Australia played New Zealand in match three of series in Faridabadmarker. An early 9am start saw New Zealand bowled out for 97, despite Australia bowling 17 wides. Australia comfortably reached the target, losing only two wickets in the process; one of which was Ponting for 12. "I feel in terrible form, and it showed as I made a very scratchy 12. It is not as if I have not been practicing, but the harder I try, the worse I feel at the crease, Ponting wrote. Before Australia's next game, Ponting was named Wisden International Cricketer of the Year in an award ceremony in Mumbai. Two days later, the city saw Australia defeat India by 77 runs on a "wearing pitch". Coming to the crease in the opening over, Ponting scored 31 from 37 deliveries in an innings which included three fours. The pitch for match five between against New Zealand, "weighed conditions far too heavily in favour of the side (Australia) bowling first," according to Ponting. The Australian captain scored just 16, as his team won in the last over by two wickets.

He regained his form in a victory over New Zealand in match—scoring 52 in Guwahatimarker. Ponting improved further against India in match eight in Bangaloremarker. After Gilchrist scored his first ODI century against India, Ponting scored an unbeaten 108 from 103 balls, to help Australia win by 61 runs. Ponting hit seven sixes and one four, becoming the first batsman to end up with only one four in an ODI century. Ponting struggled to come to terms with the pitch early, reaching his 50 in 69 balls, before scoring his next 50 in 31 deliveries. After defeating New Zealand, India qualified for the final against Australia. Batting first in Kolkata, Australia managed 5/235, as Ponting scored 36. India were bowled out for 198, leaving Australia victors by 37 runs. Ponting said, "We weren't thinking of losing here in 2001. You can't control what happened nearly three years ago. We were worried about this game. Because you can control what happens on the ground tonight. We're going home and we've won the series. That's all that counts. He finished the series with 296 runs—the third highest run-scorer—at an average of 42.83.

Most runs by an Australia in a calender year: India in Australia, 2003–04

After making 54 and 50 in the rain-drawn First Test in Brisbane, Ponting scored double-centuries in back-to-back Tests against India, in the Second Test at Adelaide (242) and at Melbourne (257, his career high). He hit 31 not out in the second Test against New Zealand, innings in Melbourne as Australia levelled the series 1–1 and scored 25 and 47 in the drawn Fourth Test in Sydney to end as the leading run-scorer for the series, with 706 runs at 100.85. Harbhajan had been sent home after the First Test with an injury to his spinning finger.

Having also scored 206 at Port-of-Spainmarker earlier in the year, he became only the second player (Sir Donald Bradman the other) to hit three double-centuries in a calendar year. Ponting's 242 against India at Adelaide is also the highest ever Test score by a batsman whose team was subsequently defeated in the match.After Steve Waugh's retirement at the beginning of 2004 following the drawn home series against India, Ponting assumed the Test captaincy. Since 1997 the Australian team has not always had the same captain for Tests and for ODIs, with Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh being dropped from the ODI team whilst still the Test captain.

Test captaincy

Appointment as Test captain in Sri Lanka

Ponting started with a 3–0 clean sweep of the Test series in Sri Lanka. Ponting brought Symonds into the Test team on the back of strong ODI form, rather than first-class cricket, replacing Simon Katich, who had scored a century and unbeaten fifty in the last Test. However, this backfired and Symonds was dropped after two Tests. Nevertheless, it was a far cry from Australia's last two Test campaigns in Sri Lanka, which had resulted in a 1–0 and 0–1 results respectively. Individually though, Ponting struggled, especially in comparison to his efforts in 1999. He scored 198 runs at 33.00, his only effort beyond 30 being 92 in the first innings of the Third Test at the Sinhalese Sports Club ground in Colombo.

Sri Lanka in Australia, 2004 Champions Trophy and 2004 tour of India

Australia hosted Sri Lanka for two Tests during the winter, in the tropical north. Ponting missed the victory in the First Test in Darwin due to a family bereavement, and scored 22 and 45 as the Second Test in Cairns was drawn.

Despite their success at World Cups, Australia continued their failure to win the ICC Champions Trophy. They were knocked out by hosts England in the semifinals in 2004.

After missing most of the tour of India due to injury, Ponting returned for the Fourth Test. By this time, Australia had taken an unassaiblable 2–0 series lead, his deputy Gilchrist leading the tourists to their first Test series win in India since 1969–70. Leading spinner Shane Warne injured himself on the eve of the match, which was played on a very dry pitch at the Wankhede Stadiummarker in Mumbaimarker.Off spinner Nathan Hauritz and leg spinner Cameron White, who were not regular wicket-takers in domestic cricket, were surprise selections ahead of Stuart MacGill for the tour. The reasoning given by the selectors was that as they intended to play only one spinner—Warne—MacGill was unlikely to play so they would not lose anything by taking some young spinners instead, in order to gain experience. However, it was too late for MacGill to be flown in, and Hauritz played and took 5/103, while India's. Ponting made 11 and 12 and Australia lost a low-scoring match in less than two days' equivalent playing time. Ponting was very vocal in criticising the playing surface after the match.

Home and away clean sweep

Ponting oversaw a successful campaign in the 2004–05 Australian season. They won all five Tests, defeating New Zealand 2–0 and Pakistan 3–0. Ponting scored 145 runs at 72.50 against New Zealand in a winning start to his Test captaincy on home soil.

Up to this point, Ponting's prolific form with the bat in 2003 had tapered away following his ascension to the captaincy and he had not made a century in eight Tests, a long period by his standards. In the First Test against Pakistan in Perth, Ponting made 98 in the second innings. Australia went on to crush the visitors by over 400 runs. Ponting struck 62 not out in the second innings as Australia won by nine wickets in the Second Test in Melbourne, and then brought up his maiden century as captain, scoring 207 in the New Year's Test in Sydney, which ended in another convincing nine-wicket triumph. He ended the series with 403 runs at 100.75.

Australia then won a three-Test tour against New Zealand away 2–0. Ponting ended the series in style, scoring 105 and 86 not out in the Third Test win in New Zealand. In his first Test series in the country, he scored 293 runs at 97.66.

Personal struggle during first Ashes series loss since 1987

Australia lost to England 2–1 after starting the series as favourites. Ponting thus became the first Australian captain since Allan Border in 1986–87 to lose an Ashes series. The 2005 series was hailed as one of the great Test series, but Ponting faced significant criticism afterwards and his tenure as captain was questioned. In his defence, Ponting said that Australia had simply been outplayed and had not stepped up at crucial moments in the matches. He rejected suggestions that Shane Warne should be captain in his stead.

The series began with a decisive 239-run win to Australia at Lord'smarker, with Australia's bowlers dominating the English batsmen. England made only 155 and 180, and only Kevin Pietersen passed 50, which he did in both innings.

In the pre-match warm up before the next Test at Edgbastonmarker, an accidental injury to Glenn McGrath, who took nine wickets at Lord's, led to his late withdrawal from the match with an ankle injury. Ponting sent England in to bat after winning the toss after the hosts' insipid batting display in the series opener, a decision widely criticised, as the pitch was ideal for batting. England immediately attacked in the absence of McGrath and seized the initiative. They posted a big first innings total of 407 in less than 80 overs on the first day, and won the game by 2 runs despite a late stumble and a near-successful run chase by bowlers Brett Lee and Michael Kasprowicz on the final day. England had the upper hand throughout the third Test at Old Traffordmarker, where Australia needed to bat through the last day to force a draw. Ponting scored 156, the first Australian century of the series, and was dismissed only four overs from the end of the day. This left Australia nine wickets down but their final pair survived the remaining overs. In the fourth Test at Trent Bridgemarker, Australia again batted poorly and was forced to follow-on. In the second innings, Ponting was well set on a score of 48, and England was in some difficulty due to an injury to key paceman Simon Jones, when the Australian captain was run out by a direct hit from the substitute fielder (Gary Pratt). Ponting reacted angrily, directing an abusive tirade at the English support team in the pavilion concerning the liberal use of substitutes as he walked into the Australian rooms. England had routinely used substitutes so that their bowlers could receive massages between their spells, but in this case, Pratt was on the field due to an injury to Jones, who had been taken to hospital and would go on to miss the 5th and final Test match of the series.

Ponting was later fined 75% of his match fee by the match referee.

After England won the match by three wickets after nervously chasing down a target of 128 to take a two-one lead in the series, Ponting returned to the subject of substitutes in an interview with Australian radio: "I think it's an absolute disgrace the spirit of the game is being treated like that. It is within the rules; it's just not within the spirit of the game." England coach Duncan Fletcher later commented on this incident: "He [Ponting] completely blew his top. I did not actually think it at the time but, looking back now, that might be the moment when it became clear that England were going to regain the Ashes."

Australia went on to lose the match, despite a spirited fightback with the ball on the last day. Also in this match Ponting bowled six overs, and took his first wicket since March 1999; Michael Vaughan caught behind by Adam Gilchrist. The Fifth Test at The Ovalmarker was curtailed by rain and although Australia had the English batsmen in danger on the final day, a rearguard counterattacking partnership by Kevin Pietersen and Ashley Giles on the final afternoon secure the a draw for the hosts. Thus, the Ashes were lost for the first time in 16 years.

2005 Super Series clean sweep

The setback to Australia, and to Ponting as Australian captain, of the 2005 Ashes defeat, was to prove a strong motivation for the Australian camp to improve their standards and overcome any complacency that may have arisen from Australia's being the world's premier cricketing nation for a decade.

Prior to the Ashes defeat, Australia's dominance had prompted the ICC to organise a series against a World XI, immediately after the Ashes. Following the Ashes defeat, Australia were expected to struggle against the World XI, but bounced back to whitewash them 3–0 in the ODIs; they also won the only Test easily, Ponting scoring 46 and 54. However, the series was also criticised due to the apparent lack of collective desire of the World XI, who were regarded more as a collection of individuals.

Following the Ashes defeat, and the pivotal role played by English all rounder Andrew Flintoff, which allowed England to field five frontline bowlers, Australia decided to adopt this strategy. Thus Damien Martyn, a specialist batsman who struggled in England, was dropped, and Watson brought into the team to bat at No. 7 behind Gilchrist and bowl regularly. Watson was injured in his second Test in the role, but the policy was continued, although his replacement Andrew Symonds struggled and averaged less than 20 with the bat and more than 35 with the ball, without taking many wickets, for over a year. Despite this, the policy was persisted with.

West Indies, New Zealand and South Africa in Australia, 2005/06

Ponting during his 124 against Sri Lanka on 12 February 2006 at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

In any case, Australia were untroubled during the 2005–06 season. They whitewashed the West Indies 3–0 before defeating South Africa 2–0 in three Tests. They then reciprocated South Africa's tour and recorded a 3–0 whitewash in the Tests. In the series against the West Indies, Ponting scored a century in each innings of the First Test in Brisbane, 149 and 104 not out. In his first Test as captain in front of the Tasmanian pubilc, Ponting managed 17 and 0 not out, and he ended the series with 329 runs at 82.25.

Ponting was in a rich vein of form against the South Africans. After scoring 71 and 53 in the drawn First Test in Perth, Ponting scored 117 on Boxing Day in the Second Test at the MCG. Australia won the match and Ponting scored 120 and 143 not out to end the series and start the New Year with a dramatic win in the Third Test at the SCG. South African captain Graeme Smith declared on the final morning of a rain-curtailed match and tried to open up the game in a bid to equal the series. He left Australia a target of 287 runs in 76 overs, and Ponting made 143 not out in only 159 balls to secure an eight-wicket win. It was the first time anyone had scored two centuries in their 100th Test and Ponting was named man of the match and man of the series. He had scored 515 runs at 103.00.

Mixed form on tour of South Africa and 2006 Champions Trophy

Australia continued their run in South Africa even in the absence of McGrath for family reasons. Ponting scored 103 and 116 in the Second Test in Durban, making it three Test centuries in consecutive innings at the ground. He ended the series with 348 runs at 58.00. After the Durban Test he wrote:

On 12 March 2006, Ponting scored 164 in only 105 balls in the 5th ODI against South Africa in Johannesburgmarker, as Australia made a record total of 434 for 4, only to be beaten by South Africa's 438 for 9. At the end of the match Ponting was jointly awarded Man of the Match with Herschelle Gibbs.

The Australians moved on to their maiden Test tour of Bangladesh thereafter, and narrowly avoided an ignominious loss in the First Test at Fatullah. After the home side took an unexpected first innings lead, Ponting scored an unbeaten 118 in the second innings to guide his team to a three-wicket win. He scored 52 in the Second Test as Australia won by an innings and took the series 2–0.

Australia won the 2006 ICC Champions Trophy in India, finally winning the ODI tournament that had eluded them despite their World Cup success. After the final in Mumbai, Ponting drew some criticism for appearing to ask BCCI president and Indian cabinet minister Sharad Pawar to "leave the podium" and pointing towards the exit with his finger, while his team-mate Damien Martyn pushed him gently in the back so that his team could commence celebrations. The issue, while minor, was solved when Ponting issued a formal apology to Pawar.

Career best form during 2006–07 Ashes triumph

In November 2006, the England cricket team again took on Australia in the first Test of a five Test series that was widely expected to be a tremendous contest between Australia, the top team on the world cricket rankings, and the England team, whose aggregated results over the last few years had it standing second in the rankings. Despite Australia this time having the advantage of playing on its own soil, the England team that had wrested the Ashes from the Australians was expected to be highly competitive.
The Australian cricket team with a replica of The Ashes urn
In the First Test in Brisbanemarker, Ponting top-scored in Australia's first innings with 196 runs, and he followed this up with 60 not out in the second as Australia took the initiative with a commanding win. In the Second Test in Adelaidemarker, Ponting top-scored with 142, helping Australia to a total of 513 in response to England's 6/551. Australia went on to win the match by six wickets after a last day English collapse, Ponting making 49 in the chase. At the conclusion of the match, Ponting's batting average peaked at 59.99. The Third Test played at the WACA Groundmarker saw another win to Australia by 206 runs to reclaim the Ashes; Ponting made 2 and 75. The 15 months they had been in English hands was the shortest period either nation had held the urn. Further wins in Melbourne and Sydney, made Ponting's team the second team (after Warwick Armstrong's Australian team in 1920–21) to win an Ashes series 5–0, and that against what had been thought to be a formidable enemy, the second strongest cricketing team in the world. Ricky Ponting was awarded Man of the Series for the 2006–07 Ashes series after scoring 576 runs at an average of 82.29 including 2 centuries and 2 half centuries.

Under Ponting's leadership, the Australians equalled the longest winning streak of 16 games held also by Australia, under the captaincy of Steve Waugh.

Australia then started the ODI series well, qualifying in first place for the final. However, they stumbled and lost 2–0 to England in the finals. Ponting was then rested for the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy ahead of the World Cup, and in his absence, the Australians were whitewashed 34–0, leading to suggestions that his team had slumped just ahead of the most important ODI tournament in world cricket.

Continued team and personal success at the 2007 Cricket World Cup

Australia left for St Vincent, Australia's venue for its two warm-up matches against Zimbabwe and England on February 28 without Brett Lee because of ankle damage. In the first warmup game against Zimbabwe, Ponting scored just 2 in Australia's 106 run victory.[54355] In Australia's second and last warm up game, this time against England, Ponting again failed to make an impact, scoring just 7 before he was bowled by off-spinner Jamie Dalrymple.

Australia started its official World Cup campaign with three group matches played at Warner Parkmarker, St Kittsmarker. Ponting himself started his campaign successfully with an innings of 113 from 93 deliveries that included five sixes, as Australia were dominant in 203 run victory against Scotland. Ponting later wrote "By the end of our innings, I felt like my game was in pretty good shape." Despite scoring just 23 in the next match against the Netherlands, Australia still amassed 358 and preceded to bundle out the Dutch for 129 in 26.5 overs. In the lead up to Australia's last group stage match against pre-tournament number one ranked team South Africa; former South African batsman Jonty Rhodes claimed that Australia weren't as good fielding side as the South Africans. Winning the toss and batting first, Australia amassed 377/6—their highest score in World Cups. Matthew Hayden scored 101 from 68 deliveries and reached three figures in only 66 deliveries, and in doing so, scored the fastest Cricket World Cup century in history. Ponting also scored 91 from 91 balls, and became the seventh player to score 10,000 ODI runs, but later wrote in his Captains Diary:

Despite South Africa being 160 without loss in the 21st over, bringing back memories of their record run chase in Johannesburg a year earlier, South Africa crumbled, losing 9 wickets for just 74 runs. At the post-game media conference, Ponting was critical of Kallis' innings (48 from 63). When asked if he was surprised by the way Kallis had batted in that situation, he replied "No, that's the way he plays."

A large crowd of over 10,000 fans welcome the Australian team on completing the first World Cup hat-trick - Martin Place, Sydney.
Australia comfortably qualified for the Super Eights with their first match played at the new Antigua Recreation Groundmarker in Antiguamarker. Ponting stated that he wasn't very impressed with the outfield labeling it "...ridiculously sandy, to the point that the first thing I thought when I walked on it was a torn leg muscle."Australia's number three was run out when on 35, with his team amassing 322 mainly thanks to 158 from Hayden. In a match spread out over two days, Australia comfortably defeated the locals by 103 runs. In their next match, Australia come up against lowly Bangladesh in another ran interrupted affair. This time the match was shortened to 22 overs a side as the stadium failed to handle the rain that fell before the rain. In the end Australia won by 10 wickets with Ponting not getting a chance to bat.Ponting's men had an eight day break before their match against England again in Antigua. Despite Kevin Pieterson's century in England's innings, Ponting amassed a half-century guiding Australia to a seven wicket victory.After not getting a bat in Australia's rout of Ireland in Barbadosmarker on April 13, Ponting steered Australia to victory in their next match against Sri Lanka in Grenada, with 66 not out. Grenada was again the venue for Australia's final super eights battle, this time against New Zealand. Again amongst the runs, Ponting produced a fluent 66 that included seven boundaries, with his team wrapping up their biggest victory of the tournament. Before the Sri Lankan match, reports came out describing the pitch as a "compost heap", although Ponting disagreed, even though he described the square as "patchy".

With his men now firm favourites for the tournament, they again came up against South Africa in the Semi-Final. Surprisingly to some, South African skipper Graeme Smith elected to bat on a pitch that appeared to have something in it. South Africa, who were reeling at 27/5, ended up posting 149. Ponting's description of the performance was, "they were all trying to play the innings of their life in the same game, but they were cut down, one after the other. Instead of swimming between the flags, they drowned down the wrong end of the beach. Smith and Jacques Kallis were too aggressive much too quickly..."Although Ponting struggled to trouble the scorers with 22, Australia easily dispatched South Africa by 7 wickets, inside 32 overs.

2007 World Twenty20 and One Day International tour of India

Sri Lanka, New Zealand and India in Australia, 2007–08

Ponting at the toss for a ODI against India at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The 2007–08 started a new era for Australia, as McGrath and Warne had both retired at the end of the previous Ashes series. The pair had taken more than 1250 Test wickets between them, and the only three Test defeats that Australia had suffered under Ponting, once against India in Mumbai in 2004 and the two against England in 2005, had all occurred when one of the two were injured. Now that both had gone, critics wondered whether Australia and Ponting could maintain their success with their two main strike weapons absent.

The new period started well for Australia, with a 2–0 clean sweep over Sri Lanka. Ponting had little to do, scoring 140 runs at 46.66.

However, the series against India was much harder-fought. Australia won the First Test easily, by 337 runs, but the matches thereafter were more difficult.

The Second Test was closely fought and ended in Australian victory minutes before the end of play. This saw Australia equal the world record of 16 consecutive Test wins; Ponting, was part of Steve Waugh side that set the previous record in 1999–2001. However, the cricket was overshadowed by player conduct issues.After the match ended the stadium erupted in cheering as the Indians walked off the field, and the Australians celebrated their record-equalling win, the Australians reveled in their victory, praising Michael Clarke. In an interview live at the ground, Ponting also asked Clarke to tell the commentator Tony Greig that the declaration was timed exactly right. Adam Gilchrist was also reported as asking the question, "How about that declaration, Tony Greig". The Australian Team did not shake hands with Indian Players on the field, especially Kumble who was waiting there after the fall of the final wicket. Though the Australian and Indian teams shook hands before heading into the dressing rooms later, but Kumble, who was batting at the end of the match, showed his displeasure by not shaking hands with the umpires.

India expressed their resentment by boycotting the Post-Match presentation ceremony.In the post-match press conference after the match had finished, Anil Kumble summed up his view of the game by stating, "Only one team is playing in the spirit of the game" - a statement that alluded to Australian captain Bill Woodfull's leaked private admonishment of English manager Sir Pelham Warner during the 1932/33 Bodyline series. Chetan Chauhan, India's team manager said his players were "agitated and upset by... the incompetent umpires here... [and hoped] that they will not officiate again in the series". Ponting was questioned over the wrong decision, the racism row, and especially the wicket of Ganguly during which he held his finger up to indicate to Mark Benson that Ganguly has been caught. Ponting was aggressive towards the Indian journalists, lashing out at them for "questioning my [Ponting's] integrity".

The Australian players faced much questioning as a result of the fallout of the incident. The Australian team maintained that they play hard but fair. Pace bowler Brett Lee outlined the competitive spirit in the team while Ponting insisted that the only player to have been outside the spirit of the game was on the Indian side.

In regards to the racism issue. Ponting denied he did anything wrong by singularly reporting Harbhajan Singh for being abusive. Ponting stated that he was obligated to refer any incidents of racism to officials as it is widely agreed that racism is unacceptable anywhere in the world.

After criticism of the Australian team in multiple media continued, a shocked Ponting promised to ensure that his World champion side’s conduct is not seen to be arrogant in future matches. He also said:

The Indian players released few statements about the issue. Anil Kumble wrote in his column in the Hindustan Times that Ponting was not willing to listen to his pleas that the issue should remain on the field. Kumble claimed that he knew through experience that such an allegation would have major ramifications both on and off the field. Sachin Tendulkar reportedly sent a text message to the BCCI saying "Harbhajan is innocent and I can assure you on this, but denied doing so. In this hour of crisis, the board should stand by him", but hasn't released a message to the media. Tendulkar has reportedly denied sending an SMS to Sharad Pawar. Both teams have expressed hope that this issue would not overshadow the cricket.

The English Australian journalist and former captain of Somerset County Cricket Club, Peter Roebuck, a columnist in the Sydney Morning Herald, branded Ponting as "arrogant" and insisted that be stripped of the captaincy.

In the early part of the Test series against India, Ponting continued to struggle against Harbhajan, falling to him three consecutive times in the first two Tests. On the third occasion, Ponting was again caught at bat pad, from the first ball that Harbhajan bowled to him, prompting the bowler to celebrate raucously.

Harbhajan missed the Third Test and upon his return in the fourth Test, Ponting broke through for his first Test century against India in matches involving Harbhajan, scoring 140. However, the second half of the series was less successful for Australia as a team; India won the Third Test, ending the Australian streak and denying Ponting a world record 17th successive win, and the Fourth Test was a high-scoring draw. The Adelaide Test aside, Ponting had an otherwise unproductive season, scoring 268 runs at 38.28.

In the Commonwealth Bank series, Ponting struggled until Australia's last round robin match against India where he and another poor performing Australian batsmen, Andrew Symonds put on a 100 run partnership with Ponting making a hundred and Symonds making 50. Australia won two of their three round robin matches against the Indians, but the tables were turned in the finals, which the tourists won 2–0.

2008 tour of the West Indies

The tour of the West Indies was the first overseas Test series for Australia in 25 months and the first for Ponting's new look bowling attack. In five previous Test series in 1999 and 2003, he averaged 98.71, with four hundreds. He also averaged 42.80 in 25 ODIs from four tours—1995, 1999, 2003 and the 2007 World Cup. Prior to the series, Ponting wrote:

In the only warm up match before the series—against a Jamaican XI, the Australian's drew controversy from various sections of the media as they chose to wear a sponsors cap over the traditional Baggy Green cap. This was because wicket–keeper Brad Haddin did not want to receive a Baggy Green as he was yet to play in a Test. The rest of the team decided they wanted to look uniform although they wore their Baggy Greens in Jamaica's second innings. Ponting scored 17 in the first innings and 20 not out in the second, as a storm prevented an Australian victory.

Winning the toss and electing to bat in the First Test in Kingston, Jamaicamarker, Ponting came to the crease with the score at 2–37. The Australian captain then recorded his 35th Test century and was eventually dismissed in the opening day's final session for 158. Ponting's men were victorious by 95 runs. He ended the series with 323 runs at 53.83—and in the process became the fastest batsman in terms of number of innings played to score 10,000 Test runs. Although Australia won the three–Test series handsomely, with a 2–0 margin, they were to face stronger opposition overseas, in the next year. Difficulties were also beginning to appear in the spin department. MacGill, who had taken over 200 wickets in his career despite playing only sporadically due to the presence of Warne, suffered a loss of form and decided to retire during the series. Brad Hogg, the regular ODI spinner had also retired prior to the series, and Beau Casson made his debut in the final Test.

After not batting in Australia's Twenty20 loss in Bridgetownmarker, Ponting was rested for the List A 50-over game against the University of West Indies Vice Chancellor's XI. He returned for the first three ODIs and scored just 87 runs at 29.00, notching up his 300th ODI during the 2nd match. Ponting scored 69 in the third match before returning home because of a wrist injury. Under the captaincy of Michael Clarke in the final two games, Australia swept the series 5-0.

Decline and revival

2008 Test tour of India

In 2008, Ponting led the Australians back to India, and Ponting had not led an Australian team to victory there, as he missed the first three Tests of the 2004 tour due to injury. Adam Gilchrist led the Australians to a 2–1 victory, however Australia lost the fourth and final Test in Mumbaimarker when Ponting returned. It was Australia's first Test series win in India since 1969–70, in which he made 11 and 12, on a controversial pitch.

Ponting was also under pressure following the spiteful confrontations during the Indian tour of Australia earlier in the year, and only scored 17 runs at 3.40 in 2001. Ponting acknowledged that he was keen to rectify his poor Test batting record in India. Australia's attack was also to come under the microscope; in a traditionally spin-dominated country, they only had the uncapped Bryce McGain, Jason Krejza, and White, who was no longer a regular bowler in domestic cricket. Australia's tactics were questioned from the outset. McGain was sent home injured and Krejza was heavily attacked by India's younger batsmen in a tour match, conceding 0/199 in 31 overs. Krejza was then omitted from the first three Tests, even though Ponting publicly claimed his confidence in his bowler. White played at No. 8, a specialist bowler's position, even though he played mostly as a batsman in first-class cricket. Although Ponting frequently extolled White in public, he often opted to use the part-time left arm orthodox spin of Michael Clarke more often and before White.

In the First Test on a turning pitch in Bangalore "Ponting expects 'good batting surface'", Cricinfo, 8 October 2008, accessed 2 November 2009, Ponting brought up his first Test century in India, 123 on the first day, although he eventually fell leg before wicket to Harbhajan. After the innings Ponting said, "Today is one step in the right direction. It was nice to get some runs out there and put the team in a good position. But one innings doesn't make a tour." The other tours I've had here, apart from the last Test I played, I've batted at six, always coming in against spin and when the wicket has worn. One thing that stands out in my career is whenever I've been in early, with the team in a bit of trouble, I've managed to make runs." Australia had the hosts seven wickets down in their first innings, still more than 320 runs in arrears, but India recovered to salvage a draw after a rearguard effort.

In the Second Test in Mohali. Australia were defeated by 320 runs and Ponting was criticised for using part-timers against the free-scoring Indian batsmen in the second innings, because of a slow over-rate, which is penalisable by a fine, or in severe instances, a ban to the captain. This meant that he was not able to use pace spearhead Brett Lee significantly. A long discussion between Lee and Ponting prompted media allegations of a team rift.

The Third Test in Delhi saw a flat pitch, where India scored 7/613 in its first innings. Gautam Gambhir and VVS Laxman both scored double centuries, and Ponting resorted to bowling himself for two overs. Ponting amassed 87 in Australia's first innings score of 577. The match ended in a draw and Australia needed to win in the Fourth Test in Nagpur to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

With Australia needing to win the Fourth Test, Krejza was called in and took 12 wickets on debut. On the fourth afternoon of the Fourth Test, the Indian batting collapsed, and Australia had an opportunity to bowl them out and chase a target of around 250–300 after the tea break. However, the Australians were a long way behind on their over rate, so in order to avoid a one match suspension, Ponting chose to bowl their part-time spinners and medium pacers such as Michael Clarke, Cameron White and Mike Hussey (who were all unsuccessful in capturing a wicket), as they took less time. In the meantime, captain MS Dhoni and Harbhajan both added half centuries. This drew strong criticism from many commentators, who suggested that their Faster bowlers, who had been responsible for the collapse, could have bowled from a shorter run-up. When the fast bowlers were reintroduced, the last four wickets fell quickly. This left Australia with 382 runs for victory and they lost by 172 runs to cede the series 2–0. In the first innings, Ponting became Harbhajan's 300th Test wicket. He ended the series with 264 runs at 37.71. While below his career standards, it was substantially better than his previous Test efforts in India.

Ponting escaped from India with a fine for slow over rates. He failed to redress the matter during the subsequent home series against New Zealand, when match referee Chris Broad dealt a second successive fine for being three overs behind in the First Test: Ponting was stripped of thirty per cent of his A$12,750 match fee, twice the punishment of his team-mates in accordance with International Cricket Council rules for captains. Australia were largely untroubled by New Zealand, sweeping both Tests. Ponting scored only 100 runs at 33.33.

Loss of form during home series over New Zealand and South Africa, 2008–09

In the first Test in Perth, starting in December, Ponting again had to reduce his reliance on his preferred pace bowlers, and rely more on spinners due to a slow over rate. His persistent problems with the over rate have prompted some commentators to criticise him for spending too much time during the match conferring with bowlers. In the first innings he scored a duck, and managed 32 in Australia's second innings. Ponting's inexperienced attack had trouble penetrating the opposition batsmen, and South Africa made 4/414, the second highest successful runchase in history to win by six wickets on the final day.
Ponting experienced a form slump for much of 2008, albeit in comparison to his usually high standards. However he again exceeded 1,000 runs in the calendar year. Ponting scored his 37th century in the first innings of the Second Test against South Africa on Boxing Day, and followed that with 99 in the second innings, seemingly a lone stand against the South African bowling attack. The tourists won the match by nine wickets to win the series. Australia thus lost their first home Test series since 1992–93. "We've had an amazing run as a team," Ponting said after the match. "We have dominated world cricket for a long period of time. I'm still very positive and very sure that with some of these younger guys coming on that in a few years' time we can get back up there and be dominating world cricket once again. It's disappointing when you lose any series. This one I think is probably no different. The only fact that's different is that we've probably been in very strong winning positions in both of the Test matches and when we've needed to put the last couple of nails in the coffin we haven't been able to do that. The gap between our best cricket and our worst cricket has been too big. We have to make that smaller if we want to win the next Test and if we want to stay in the top group of Test-playing nations." "'Rebuilding will take a while' - Ponting", Cricinfo, 30 December 2009, accessed 29 September 2009Australia lost the series 2–1, the first time South Africa had won a Test series against Australian since 1970, and the first on Australian soil. Ponting totalled 285 runs at 47.50 for the series.

Test series triumph over South Africa 2008–09

After the retirement of Matthew Hayden, and his replacement by the uncapped Phillip Hughes the Australian lineup that toured South Africa was very inexperienced. This was further compounded by the loss of Symonds to injury, who was replaced by the uncapped Marcus North. The bowling attack also required major changes, due to the injuries to Brett Lee and Stuart Clark. The bowling attack was particularly inexperienced, with paceman Mitchell Johnson being the only one with more than four Tests. It was the most inexperienced Australian Test team since the defections to World Series Cricket. Of the First Test team, Hughes, North, Ben Hilfenhaus, Peter Siddle and Andrew McDonald had only five Tests between them, with the former three making their debut. [54356] Ponting's team took the series 2-1, so Australia maintained their No. 1 Test ranking. Ponting was praised for cobbling together an unexpected win, as South Africa were expected to be stronger on home soil. He scored eighties in the first two Tests, ending with 210 runs at 35.00.

Disappointments at 2009 World Twenty20 and Ashes series loss

After losing their opening match of the 2007 World Twenty20, Ponting's men were looking for a more positive start to the 2009 edition in England. They opened their campaign in early June against a West Indian outfit that had recently been whitewashed 2-0 in the Test series against England. Batting first, Ponting came to the crease in the opening over. He didn't last long as Jerome Taylor had him trapped leg before wicket first ball. Finishing their twenty overs on 169, Australia were struck by a Chris Gayle onslaught. He scored 88 from 50 balls as the West Indies won by seven wickets. After the match Ponting said, "It [a Twenty20 match] can change very quickly in one ball to another, one over to another. We know what our job now is: beat Sri Lanka and beat them well. We'd have about two weeks in Leicestermarker if we have an early exit here, and that won't be great for anybody." In Australia's next match against Sri Lanka on 8 June, they once against batted first at Trent Bridgemarker in Nottinghammarker. For the second time in as many matches, Ponting walked to the crease in the opening over. Ponting hit five boundaries in his 25 before he was bowled by spinner Ajantha Mendis as he backed away attempting to hit over the off-side. Mendis finished with three wickets as Australia finished at 9/159. Their target was not big enough as Sri Lanka won by six wickets with an over to spare. The defeat consequently eliminated Australia from the tournament. To make matters worse, Australia were fined for a slow over-rate, as they finished one over behind the required rate.

In Australia's two drawn warm-up matches ahead of the Ashes, Ponting struggled, with 71 in the first match being his highest score. Nevertheless he started his Ashes series strongly, scoring 150 in the first innings of the first Test in Cardiffmarker. In his 38th Test and eighth Ashes century, the Australian number three become just the fourth man to score 11,000 career runs in Test cricket. He later revealed he tightened his technique to suit English conditions. "With the wickets we have played on in the last couple of weeks, they have been very slow so you have to be conscious to play the ball in under your eyes a little bit more. That's probably where I got brought undone in Worcestermarker to tell you the truth, with the pace of the ball not quite being there and me pushing at it and going after it, trying to put some pace on the ball. I felt I have been a bit tighter in that regard. Despite his performance, Australia were unable to force a victory, with England's last pair, Monty Panesar and Jimmy Anderson, surviving 66 deliveries before the match was drawn. "Ponting's batting makes up for captaincy", Cricinfo, 09 July 2009, accessed 20 September 2009

Australia were defeated in the second Test at Lordsmarker—their first Test defeat at the venue since 1934. In the Third Test at Edgbastonmarker, Ponting became the highest Australian run-scorer in the history of Test cricket on 31 July, overtaking former Australian captain Allan Border's total of 11,174. The match was eventually drawn, partly to do to poor weather. Up to this point, spinner Nathan Hauritz had taken 12 wickets and been unexpectedly successful given Australia's struggles to find a reliable spinner. Ponting captained the Australians to an innings and 80 run victory at the Fourth Test at Headingleymarker, with Hauritz omitted on a pace-friendly wicket. He struck a quick 78 from 101 balls as Australia bowled England out and took the lead on the first day.

Hauritz was again left out for the Fifth and final Test at The Ovalmarker as Australia opted to retain the team that had won so convincingly at Headingley, despite the fact that the pitch was very dry and favourable to spin. England went on to win the Test and series 2-1. Ponting therefore became only the third Australian captain to lose the Ashes twice. Despite not being a selector, Ponting was heavily criticised for Australia not playing Hauritz as he's been known to be reluctant to put faith in his spinners. He was questioned, particularly on Australia's recent habit of often not playing a specialist/regular spinner. Instances of these were the first three Tests in India, the omission of Krejza for the First Test against New Zealand immediately after taking 12 wickets on debut, and opting for no spinner in the first two Tests in South Africa.

Team and personal success during: 2009 ICC Champions Trophy and ODI tour of India

Australia came into the Champions Trophy ranked second in ODIs; along with being the events reigning champions. They opened their campaign against an undermanned West Indian outfit who were without prominent players because of an industrial dispute. Ponting arrived at the crease in the opening over, after Shane Watson was bowled for a first ball duck. On a "lively pitch" with early morning "demons", Ponting top-scored with 79, after reaching his half-century in 63 balls. He hit opening bowler Kemar Roach for four boundaries in the matches seventh over, and scored a six and two fours against the fast-bowler when he was reintroduced into the attack in the 21st over. Australia eventually won the match by 50 runs, although Ponting was unsatisfied with the performance. "Johnson's runs 'proved vital' - Ponting", Cricinfo, 27 September 2009, accessed 26 September 2009 In the 9th match of the tournament, Australia played India in Centurionmarker. Australia reached 4/234 in the 43rd over, before rain intervened, causing the match to be abandoned. Ponting shared an 88-run stand with Hussey and an 84-run partnership with Paine, in his innings of 65 from 85 deliveries, before being run out. The match result meant Pakistan qualified for the semi-final; however, Australia needed to defeat Pakistan to in their final match to qualify. "Washout hits India's semis chances", Cricinfo, 28 September 2009, accessed 03 October 2009 Ponting's men proceeded to defeat Pakistan in a closely fought encounter by two wickets. He scored a patient 32 from 64 balls, scoring just a single boundary in the process; however his dismissal triggered a collapse after he and Michael Hussey shared an 81 run partnership.

After qualifying the semi-final, Australia easily encounted for England, with Ponting scoring an unbeaten 111 from 115 deliveries (12 fours and one six); his 28th ODI century. During the innings, Ponting became the third batsman to score 12,000 ODI runs and was also involved in a record 252 partnership with Watson; Ponting's seventh double-century stand for Australia in the shortened format. Commenting on the 12,000 runs milestone, he said, "I've felt really good since the break after the end of the Ashes series, since I've come back I've felt like I've been batting really well and felt in control more importantly. When you're out their batting or out there leading the side you always want to feel in control and I've certainly felt that in the last couple of weeks." Despite Ponting only scoring one in the final in Centurion against New Zealand, Australia won the by six wickets—their second consecutive Champions Trophy victory. Ponting was presented with the golden bat award for most runs in the tournament, 288 at an average of 72 in four games, and also received the man-of-the-series award, before praising his young side for the title defence.

Home series against the West Indies

The West Indies leading batsmen Chris Gayle and Shivnarine Chanderpaul returned for the opening Test of the 2009–10 Australian cricket season starting on 26 November.


An innings-by-innings breakdown of Ponting's Test match batting career, showing runs scored (red bars) and the average of the last ten innings (blue line).
Ponting is an aggressive batsman, and is known for playing a wide repertoire of shots with confidence. He is sometimes technically questioned for shuffling across his stumps.

Ponting is also seen as an aggressive competitor, as manifested in his on-field conduct. In early 2006, in the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy, Ponting had an on-field argument with umpire Billy Bowden over signalling a no-ball because not enough players were within the inner circle. In mid 2006, during a tour of Bangladeshmarker, Ponting was accused of "badgering the umpires until he got what he wanted". He has also been accused of charging at the umpires in appeal, which is forbidden, and can result in suspensions if a player is found guilty of intimidating the umpires.

In 2005, he began using cricket bats with a graphite covering over the wooden blade of the bat, as did other players contracted to Kookaburra Sport. This was ruled by the MCC to have contravened Law 6.1, which states that bats have to be made of wood, although they may be "covered with material for protection, strengthening or repair not likely to cause unacceptable damage to the ball". Ponting and Kookaburra agreed to comply.


Ponting has appeared in promotional advertisements for National Foods's Pura Milk, Rexona, Medibank Private, Victoria Bitter, Valvoline, KFC, Swisse and Weet-Bix. In 2007 Ponting signed a deal with India's ING Vysya Bank whereby customers starting an account with the bank went into a draw to win a dinner date with the Australian. He was also the face of Codemasters's Ricky Ponting International Cricket 2005 and reprised his role for the 2007 version.


Throughout his career in international cricket, Ponting has been involved in the writing of a number of diaries on Australian cricket, which depict his experiences during the cricketing year. The books are produced with the help of a ghostwriter.

Achievements and Statistics

Ponting has scored centuries on 38 occasions in Test cricket and 28 times in ODI matches, both of which are Australian records.

In Test matches, Ponting has scored hundreds against all Test playing countries. He is second in the list of century-makers, behind Sachin Tendulkar, who has made 42 Test centuries. Ponting's first Test century was achieved against England] in the Test match played at Headingley Stadium, Leeds in 1997, when he scored 127. His highest score is 257, against India in 2003 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Ponting, among 38 centuries, has scored 4 double centuries. His Test centuries have been made at 21 cricket grounds; he has scored 18 in venues outside Australia. He has been dismissed four times above the score of 90.

Ponting has scored centuries in both innings of a Test three times, equalling the record set by Sunil Gavaskar. This included a double in his 100th Test, in which he guided Australia to a successful run chase against South Africa on the final day. In 2006, Ponting scored seven centuries, the most by an Australian in a year.

In ODIs, Ponting has scored centuries against 11 opponents. He has scored centuries against all cricketing nations that have permanent One Day International status. His first ODI century was against Sri Lanka in the ninth match of the Benson & Hedges World Series, held in the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1996. His highest ODI score is 164, which he scored against South Africa at the Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg in 2006. This propelled Australia to a new ODI world record score, although this mark lasted only a few hours before South Africa overhauled their target in the last over of the match. With Sanath Jayasuriya, Ponting is equal second in the list of century-makers, behind Tendulkar (43). Ponting has scored 12 centuries at home grounds and 16 centuries at away or neutral venues. Seven centuries were hit at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. He has been dismissed four times in the 90s. Ponting previously held the highest score in a Cricket World Cup final with 140 not out against India in 2003, before it was broken by Adam Gilchrist in 2007. He has scored four World Cup centuries, a record shared with Tendulkar, Mark Waugh and Sourav Ganguly.His 145 against Zimbabwe in 1998 equalled Dean Jones' Australian record score, but this was surpassed in early-1999 by Adam Gilchrist's 154.

See also


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  2. Richardson (2002), p. 20.
  3. Richardson (2002), p. 18.
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  7. Richardson (2002), p. 24.
  8. Richardson (2002), p. 25.
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  10. Richardson (2002), p. 26.
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