During my youth one of the rites of passage was going to a night club, or as my father would fondly refer to it a “discotheque”. I guess that part of the thrill involved being out (at night) with mates, and have the chance to try to chat up some girls and to partake of a couple of illicit alcoholic beverages. Interestingly enough, the beverages were not as important as the girls at that stage. When you reached the club there would be a large majority of your friends and acquaintances to socialise with, but there would also be a smaller number of older chaps in there as well who were a cause of some consternation.
Part of the problem would be that the guys would try to dress “young” wearing the fashion of the day (baggy jeans, replica baseball shirts etc) although we could easily spot they were much older. The problem with these more mature fellows would be that they had money to burn and would try (with some success) and lure some of the very same lasses we were trying to chat up. Inevitably they would generally be driving (their own car!) and not car pooling like us youngsters, which added to this air of superiority.
We would constantly complain about the “old timers” not knowing that their time was up and how they should just gracefully retire to do whatever it is that people “their age” should be doing like playing bingo or staying in to watch the Friday night film whilst sipping on a cup of hot cocoa.
It seemed, to us, that these chaps simply did not know when to call it quits.
This brings me to Ricky Thomas Ponting.
Ponting was the steadying influence in the Australian middle order for over a decade as described here by Michael Filosi. A simple mechanism used to justify Ponting’s inclusion in the team – namely, he scored runs and plenty of them. As Filosi explains, now that his primary purpose for being in the team – the ability to score runs – is not being met, there are other reasons used to justify his inclusion in the team such as passing on experience to the younger generation.
Despite his solid 62 runs in the nerve-wracking second Test win over South Africa recently, Ponting has now gone 28 innings without a century. Ponting has been full of bluster recently claiming that “Someone’s going to pay at some stage” and “I’m working too hard for someone not to pay. That’s the way I’m looking at it, but I’ve been saying that for a couple of months.” Positive statements to be sure, but the statistics tell a different story – in the past 12 months he has averaged 20 runs and seen his career average fall below 53.
There is always the possibility that Ponting will rediscover his best form and proceed to have a glorious swan song before calling it quits. However, it is also possible that Ponting’s decision may be made for him by the selectors and then he will not leave on his own terms.
For your sake, Ricky, I hope you don’t become that old guy in the club.