Title: Oh Ricky, I remember it well
Author: Steve Waugh
Source: Sports Weekly (December 12, 1995)
I watched Ricky Ponting's first ball in Test cricket from the other
side of the country and memories of S. Waugh's debut on Boxing Day,
1985 against India at the MCG came flooding back.
Ricky's introduction to the big arena, when he danced down the wicket
to spinner Muralitharan and got four runs from a streaky shot showed
he was pretty nervous but was also a sign that this 20-year-old
Tasmanian has plenty of confidence in his own ability.
I have been a Ponting admirer from the first time I saw him in the
bets and his plucky 96 against Sri Lanka shows that he knows what he
wants to be.
I should warn him, however, that he has a long, long road ahead of
him - just ask Greg Blewett who missed this Test less than a season
after scoring centuries in his first two Tests.
It was fantastic to see our boys do so well without me - I thought
all the batsmen, particularly Michael Slater, who scored that
fantastic double ton, played very well. Needless to say, it was most
frustrating not to be part of the action.
The last Test against Pakistan was doubly disappointing for not only
did we lose a match we thought we'd win but I also aggravated a groin
injury that originated in Melbourne on a sub-standard outfield during
the first Shield game this season.
The Sydney loss once again threw up a couple of questions revolving
around Australia's apparent poor record of chasing totals in the
fourth innings to win a Test and the inability to handle quality spin
bowling under pressure. Obviously the team was very disappointed
with out inept performance on the last day when we needed 126 runs
with seven wickets in tact to clean sweep the series. However there
were one or two circumstances that influenced the outcome of that
great Test match.
The nature of the wicket was such that it was perfectly suited to a
team bowling last on it and more specifically a quality spin bowler.
With the wicket being very slow with not a lot of bounce it makes
scoring difficult, which together with bowlers of the calibre of
Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis who are the two best exponents of
reverse swing bowling in the game today, it created enormous pressure
from one end. From the other end was Mushtaq Ahmed bowling with the
confidence and authority normally only associated with Shane Warne.
The improvement in this guy's bowling since we last confronted him
more than 12 months ago on our Pakistan tour has been phenomenal.
exceptional bowler almost overnight. His control and variation in
the Hobart and Sydney Tests were equal to Warney which is the highest
praise any spinner could hope to recieve.
Meanwhile, it has been me who has been in a spin since sustaining
that injury. For the first 24 hours I had to ice it for 15 minutes
every hour. Since then it has been a combination of physiotherapy,
light rides on an exercise bike for 10-15 minutes every two-three
hours, massage on and around the affected area, long sessions of
stretching, electro-magnetic therapy and laser treatment.
By the way, if you're wondering how I fared with my first ball in
Test cricket, the answer is, I missed it! But the ball was turning
square at the time - that's my stroy, anyway.
Web Page - http://yoyo.cc.monash.edu.au/~bpspark/
Any fool with quick hands can take a tiger by the balls.
But it takes a hero to keep squeezing.