Cricket news 2023: Ricky Ponting reveals ‘proudest moment as a player’ was unheralded 2009 tour

Australian cricket legend Ricky Ponting has revealed his proudest moment as a player, and it’s not what you’d expect.

The man revered as Nostradamus, with an encyclopaedic knowledge of cricket and an immaculate front-foot pull has more than plenty of moments to pick from as his proudest moment over the span of a glittering 17-year career in which he scored over 27,000 international runs.

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But it wasn’t the revenge Ashes whitewash of 2006/07, or one of his three World Cups that “Punter” picked, but a nondescript 2009 tour of South Africa.

After the 5-0 demolition of England at home in 2006/07, the golden generation of Australian cricket was struck down by a raft of retirements – Justin Langer, Damien Martyn, Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Shane Warne all retired, alongside coach John Buchanan.

Further retirements in the subsequent years from Brad Hogg, Michael Kasprowicz, Stuart MacGill and Adam Gilchrist had left Australia floundering for talent to fill an almost impossible void.

Sent away to South Africa in February 2009 for a three-Test tour, Ponting as captain was forced to look to the next generation, blooding three debutants in a Test for the first time for Australia for 24 years.

Phillip Hughes, Ben Hilfenhaus and Marcus North all came into the side for the first Test in Johannesburg, and Australia would go on to win that series 2-1 with wins in Johannesburg and Cape Town against a stacked South Africa outfit.

Hughes scored twin tons in Durban, the youngest man in the history of the sport to do so, earmarking him as one of Australian cricket’s brightest talents before his tragic death in 2014.

It was this triumph Ponting considers the proudest moment of his career as a player, and says the current Australian team can take a number of lessons from it, with a number of senior players well and truly in the twilight of their careers.

“What happened with the departure of (Langer, Warne, McGrath, etc) after (2006/07) was probably equally as challenging (as the 2005 Ashes), but more exciting than anything else that I had probably through my career,” Ponting said to

“You know, we had Phil Hughes and Marcus North and Ben Hilfenhaus, Siddle, Johnson, Smith, Warner, you had all these guys coming in through the side and I was sort of the father figure of the team, the captain and the most experienced guy in the side.

“So I tried to look after them as my students and my pupils, if you like, and it’d almost be like their primary school teacher rather than their high school headmaster – welcome everybody in and look to nurture and make them feel part of the group rather than being this big, grumpy old leader that was going to hit them with a cane if they stepped out of line.”

Ponting noted the challenges in taking a young side away to South Africa, but said it was incredibly rewarding.

“That group that came together after 2006/07, we lost to South Africa at home, we went straight over there a month later, they were the number one ranked team in the world, I had all these young blokes that hadn’t played before,” he said.

“And we actually beat them, we beat them in South Africa 2-1. We won in Johannesburg, we won in Durban, then we lost in Cape Town, but I remember walking off after the second Test in Durban and just looking back at the group and it was all those young blokes.

“Their first taste of a series win away for Australia, and that was probably the proudest moment I had as a player.”

With the Australian team currently in transition, Ponting says the upcoming Test summer is the perfect time to start blooding new players.

While Smith, Warner and Khawaja could all be retired by summer’s end, with Warner already flagging his desire for a farewell at the SCG against Pakistan, there is a strong crop of young batting talent rearing to come through.

Cameron Bancroft continues to press a case at Shield level, while the likes of Tim Ward, Campbell Kellaway, Teague Wyllie, Ashley Chandrasinghe and Sam Konstas have all been touted as future names to watch.

“Yeah, I think there probably will be some change through the Australian summer,” Ponting said.

“When you start crystal-balling and looking ahead, there’s a lot of guys in that current team that are around the same age.

“And you don’t want to have like we had in 2006, a lot of guys retiring at the same time, because those gaps can be pretty hard to fill.”

After Australia travel to New Zealand for two Tests following the conclusion of the upcoming home summer hosting Pakistan and the West Indies, they will not play any Test cricket again until next year’s home summer, where they will host India for five Tests.

Ponting said the Australians need look to major series when succession planning.

“When you’re trying to fill that many spots in a short period of time, it’s not easy. So I think the selectors have got a bit of thinking to do about how they sort of stagger these, not retirements or exit, but how they manage this group of players for the next couple of years,” he said.

“I think with that, you’ve got to start looking towards the next big Test series that you have.

“So if it’s an India one that they prioritise, or the next Ashes series that they’re looking at, you want to have experienced guys that have played some cricket heading into the biggest series in the play, so you’re not exposing inexperienced guys to the biggest challenges on the world stage.”

Ponting was speaking to for the launch of Ponting Wines’ partnership with Royal Caribbean, which will see Ponting’s range of wines available across all Ovation, Quantum and Brilliance of the Seas sailings in the 2023/24 cruise season.

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