Friends and Countrymen, we are all gathered here today to pay no tributes to an arrogant captain, whose only success as a sportsman was his batting talent and the good fortune to lead a cricketing side that, in it’s hayday, was as well balanced as a company’s balance sheet.
Ricky Ponting was a gambler, who rode his luck too long and became too cocky to realise the changing shift of power around him. He inherited, to some extent, the underhand tactics, the sledging prowess, and the arrogance from his predecessor Steve Waugh, and took it to a whole new level. As a captain, he was manipulative and completely oblivious to the spirit that made cricket ‘The Gentleman’s Game’. Exhibit A would quite easily be his gesture of signally ‘out’ to the umpire, while presenting a persona of righteousness, honesty and fair play. He usually resorted to mind games even before the match began, through media bites. He was shameless enough not to walk when he knew for sure that he had edged the ball to the wicketkeeper, and instead chose to use those extra moments at the crease to pray to whatever God he prayed, for a miracle. Even in his last world cup match as a captain, when he knew he had stopped a ball on the bounce, and there was a doubt in the umpire’s mind whether it was a catch, he showed enough cunning not to waste a review on it and let the umpire clarify his doubt on his own volition.
People may remember him as a great batsman, one of the greatest practioners of technique and talent. He has been a saviour in many an innings, and has proved himself to be one of the closest humans to even dream of being compared to that God who roams around as an avatar and answers to the name of ‘Sachin’. But his complete and absolute arrogance about his invincibility and hollow sense of dominance, will always place him on a lower rung in the human ladder.
In fact, after the Englishmen had scattered his ashes even before the world cup began, this desperate soul made one last feeble attempt at redemption and as a consequence, at salvation. His last innings came when his team needed it the most, and was as clinical an inning ever to have been played. While the pundits will laud his valiant efforts, he will not be able to escape the unsettling fact that when the efforts came, they ended up in a losing cause.
So dear friends, I’m sure all of you will join me in saying these final words to someone who was, in his final days, a shadow of what was once a world conqueror, a desperate soul who not only had fallen out of favour with his own selectors and countrymen, but perhaps had lost confidence in that person in the mirror he saw everyday. In unison then, let these words ring forever in his ears,
‘So Long, sucker!’