You may brand me a traitor after this one, but these are rare times when my cricket sensibilities trump my biased love for Bangladesh and South Africa. I've disliked many a cricketer because they weren't Bangladeshi or Saffa (I know it's unreasonable. That is the definition for bias :P) and dismissed them as rubbish cricketers. I have now been proven wrong. What humbles me is the fact that I have been proven wrong by an Australian, which is a big pill to swallow for any Saffa fan. But I will do it. I will do it because people from down under have shown Biffy a lot of love after his heroic efforts. It's only fair that I reciprocate. Also, I don't like Graeme that much and think that Botha should be captain.
Punter and Biffy have similar stories. Both were touted as wrong choices for captaincy and both hated for their cockiness and insecure behaviour. Both grew up and emerged as leaders under the intense scrutiny of the media. But ultimately, both became heroes. We all know Biffy's story. Jeered at by Aussies, limbs broken by Mitchell Johnson, but still coming out to bat to save the last test match. Biffy was given a standing ovation, which he deserved. However, Ricky has upstaged him in this Ashes series. Because not only did Ricky Ponting take a lot of stick from the English and have his lips split wide open, he became the second captain in the history of Australia to lose the Ashes twice.
Yet, he refuses to question his leadership abilities. That is not arrogance. That is a firm belief in himself because guess what? The dude has a fabulous record captaining Australia. Yes, even my grandmother could have captained the team that had Warne, McGrath, Langer, Gilchrist and Hayden in it. But if that was the case, how did Australia lose the Ashes in 2005? And, how did Australia destroy South Africa in their backyard last season? We love to hate him because it's the easy thing to do...most people dislike Punter. But let's face it. He is an amazing leader and an even more amazing batsman. I honestly have never watched Punter play before last summer because I couldn't be bothered. But shit, that tiny, hairy bastard can bat! The fact that he could break Allan Border's record despite being under the continuous pressure of captaining the former number one team in the world, speaks volumes about his ability.
The main reason behind my empathy for Ricky is the fact that he was the only Aussie player in both the Ashes and the home series against South Africa that fought till death. I remember watching SA thrash the Aussies despite great scores from Punter and Punter only, and then Ricky having to come up to the podium to say how his team fought hard. No they didn't. The only people who fought hard were you and Mitch. But it's great that you don't hate them for their stupidity and continue to lead their sorry asses. It's even more awesome that you can do it twice in a span of 6 months. These are true leadership qualities.
The amount of respect that Ricky Ponting commands is astonishing. He has a FB fan page where English supporters have showed up to apologize to him for their embarrassingly bad behaviour during the series. I glanced through some of the 122 comments in the latest post and I think I came across the word 'respect' about 50 times. Apparently, even the English papers could not help but admire his grit and dignity at the face of defeat. Then again, the English are cunning like that. It could only be because they won.
So here's to Ricky Ponting. I admire your courage and bestow upon you the tag of Captain Courageous. Call me whatever you want but I firmly believe in giving respect where respect is due. Biffy at least had a trophy to cuddle with after all the pain. Ponting...well he doesn't even have the number one position anymore.