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At the Close of Play By Ricky Ponting

Release date: 07th December, 2013
Publisher: HarperSport

List Price: £25.00
Our Price: £18.80
You Save: £6.2 (24%)
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BOOM! The sound reverberated around the office like a thunderous Ricky Ponting drive through extra cover, but the great Australian batsman was thousands of miles away – the noise emanated from his thumping autobiography, which runs to a mammoth 700+ pages, hitting the desk.

As England’s disastrous tour Down Under limped to towards its humiliating conclusion following the final one-dayer last week, all thoughts of cricketing success were being condemned to a dark space reserved for abstract notions, somewhere towards the rear of our sporting consciousness.

While wholly understandable, cricket supporters, together with those who simply enjoy reading about a sporting phenomenon, should lump a copy of this enormous book to their favourite armchair and settle in for a lengthy treat.

Having made his first class debut (for Tasmania) before he was 18, Ricky Ponting went on to be capped 168 times by Australia, captaining his country for seven mostly successful years, between 2004-11: the team lost just 16 of their 77 matches with Ponting at the helm. He retired in 2012, boasting a Test average of 51.85.

These are the bare facts, but At the Close of Play is considerably more than an autobiography assembled to fit around a series of impressive statistics.

Ponting was such a natural cricketer that he had secured a sponsorship contract with a bat manufacturer by the time he was 12 after scoring four centuries in a week for a junior team. A place at Australia’s Cricket Academy soon followed; he would graduate with a reputation as the best player that several of the academy’s hardened coaches had ever seen.

Were you to draw a graph of his Test career, however, it would not be represented by an upward-only curve. He often encountered difficulty with high-class shorter deliveries and following several off-field incidents, he admitted (in 1999) that he had a “problem with alcohol.”

Nevertheless, you do not play more than 160 Test matches for Australia if your temperament is suspect. Accordingly, Ponting deserves his place in cricket’s pantheon of greats, up there with two of his contemporaries, Tendulkar and Lara. Could he have been a little more adventurous as a captain? Probably, although as he proved time and again, pragmatism is possibly a greater feature of leadership.


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