Cricket World Cup 2011

Aus PM leads Ponting tribute

2011-03-29 10:01
Julia Gillard. (AFP)

Sydney - Prime Minister Julia Gillard has paid Ricky Ponting one of the highest tributes in the Aussie vernacular, describing the resigning Australia cricket captain as "a great bloke".

Gillard led a stream of tributes for the 36-year-old Ponting, who announced the end of his nine-year reign as Australia's captain while saying he intended to continue as a player.

The Prime Minister said she phoned Ponting on Tuesday, and told him he deserved the highest praise for a career in which he led Australia to a record 48 Test wins.

"To play that kind of role for Australia is an enormous privilege and I know from talking to Ricky today that he has felt that privilege," Gillard said.

"He's our greatest batsman after (Don) Bradman...I think all of us would wish him well in whatever he chooses to do for the balance of his life.

"He's still a very young man but many, many accolades are going to flow in the direction of Ricky Ponting today and in the coming days, and let me lend my voice to congratulate a great bloke and fantastic cricketer."

The premier of Ponting's home state of Tasmania, Lara Giddings, said criticism of his captaincy in recent weeks had been "harsh and unjustified".

"Ricky Ponting is an all-time great of the game," Giddings said.

"Criticism of Ricky's leadership in recent weeks has been harsh and unjustified, and I am pleased he was able to answer the critics by scoring a masterful century against India in the World Cup quarterfinal."

Former England captain Michael Vaughan tweeted "Respect to Ricky Ponting. Never easy giving up something that you love doing. Lots of runs still in him though. Bowlers beware."

Current Australia wicketkeeper Brad Haddin praised Ponting's consistency.

"The best thing about Ricky Ponting is no matter how he's going or how he's feeling personally, his involvement in the team and his demeanor and everything around the group doesn't change," Haddin said.

"He's a very consistent personality and he's a very consistent leader."

The opinion of Australian cricket fans on Ponting's departure and legacy was divided, as reactions to his leadership have been throughout his career.

While some praised Ponting and regretted the end of an era, others welcomed his departure and the potential rejuvenation of the Australia team.

In an online forum, a contributor identified only as Greg remarked: "Ponting has been one of the toughest, flintiest captains and a batsman who...was feared by all and sundry when in his pomp."

"Joe" expressed another common view.

"As a captain he was only ever as good as his team was," he said. "(It was) the team he inherited that made him a great captain because great captains win.

"With retirements and the depleting skills pool within the Australian cricket team, his true captaincy abilities became apparent. In reality he was a poor captain who had a good team that was in decline."

At the same time, an online poll conducted by the Sydney Morning Herald asked whether Michael Clarke was the right man to succeed Ponting. Of more than 18,000 respondents, 74 percent opposed Clarke's appointment.


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