A BATTING WITH BIMAL BREAKING REPORT: My struggles helped me become a better player, says Ricky Ponting

Ponting is focusing on scoring some runs in the second Test at Adelaide

Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has admitted that his struggles in the past year have made him into a better player ahead of the second Test against South Africa at Adelaide.

Last year, at the age of 36, Ponting was in the worst form of his international career and calls for his retirement were coming in left and right since he had failed to score a Test century in almost two years.

At this point, many pundits believed Ponting was going to hang up the boots and call it a day since many batsmen in their late thirties fail to break out of the kind of batting slump he was experiencing.

No matter how hard he tried, Ponting seemed to be getting nowhere and it looked a certain possibility that he was not going to be included in the squad for the current series against South Africa.

To add to his troubles, Ponting had to alter a technical flaw in his batting after he continuously shuffled across his stumps and was given out lbw to both Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn in Australia’s tour of South Africa in November last year.

“It was technical. You don’t go from playing the way I was playing to getting hit on the pad as often as I was without something being wrong, the frustrating thing for me through that period was that I identified it really early in the series and I was training really hard and trying to rectify it and still getting out the same way. It just took a long time to break the habit that I was in and the cycle I was in. I’m doing things a little bit differently at training now, with the way that I train and prepare. Some of the drills that I’m working on have made me feel a lot better balanced at the crease and certainly not getting hit on the pad as much as I was 12 months ago. My pre-ball movements were a little bit earlier than what they normally were. I was trying to move early to give myself a little bit more time but it was actually having a detrimental effect. I was actually moving too early and locking off and not being able to move again after that,” Ponting said.

However, during the home series against India in December to January, Ponting found his touch once again and was unstoppable, scoring 62, 60, 134, 7, 221 and 60 not out as Australia went on to whitewash the Indians 4-0.

Having found his form once again, Ponting has tried not to revisit the bad memories of last year’s tour to South Africa.

“There’s no doubt it was a lowlight, I was training really hard and not getting the results I was after. At that stage where I was batting we needed to be getting results if the team was going to win games. Whenever you fail it’s not just about you, it’s about feeling like you’ve let your team-mates and your mates down. It was a low moment. I batted my way back in the second innings of that last Test match over there and then started the series well here against New Zealand and things turned around in the summer. Pretty much from the end of that series in South Africa until now I’ve been a pretty consistent run scorer in all the games I’ve played. Some of the things I’m working on are starting to pay dividends,” Ponting added.

Having finished the first Test at Brisbane with a duck against his name, Ponting knows that he cannot let that form of the past start creeping back once again.

With the second Test at Adelaide set to begin on November 22, Ponting will be practising and preparing a game plan on how to counter-attack South Africa’s pace trio of Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel.

“We know the ball swings around a little bit up here. All of our batsmen have played enough here to know how to combat it, they’re all good bowlers and their records speak for themselves, especially over the last couple of years. Philander burst onto the scene last year. We’ve played a lot against Morkel over the years and had a reasonable record against him, us as a team, and Steyn is one of the best bowlers of the last four or five years. The thing about their attack is they’re all different bowlers. They’re all slightly different and that makes a good attack. There’s not much opportunity for our batsmen to relax but that’s what Test cricket is all about,” Ponting said.

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