The great folk at Lord’s have started a video series comparing the greatest cricketers of all time.
Their first one is Waugh vs Ponting.
You can watch it by scrolling up and clicking play, or, should that be beyond you, here is the YouTube link.
In the spirit of full disclosure, they reached out to me and asked to help them promote it. I’m glad they did because there will be some interesting arguments. In return, they may (or may not) send a nice tweet or two linking to this article.
Waugh for me represented something, perhaps a set of values, that I wanted to be attached to.
So, I’m going to have a crack at answering the Waugh vs Ponting question.
You should have a crack at leaving a comment with your thoughts. It’s only fair.
Let’s start with some stats.
Ok. I’ll admit that I’ve manipulated stats more than most to win an argument. It’s easily done.
However, in this case I don’t have a natural bias to either player. I saw them both play. They both went alright.
Some things of note:
- Both played 168 Test matches.
- Both players average 51 and a bit
- Both made over 10,000 Test runs
- Both captained their country in ODI and Test matches
Splitting hairs up until now, but the miniature has Ponting slightly ahead on almost every Test batting statistic.Its probably fair to say that Ponting was also a more explosive player and changed games more quickly, reaching 200 on 6 occasions. Waugh did it only once. However, Waugh also batted primarily at number 5 in his prime. Ponting was at 3.
Waugh’s batting originally was known for it’s crazy strokeplay, which tempered over time. His legacy will be his back foot cover drive. He was also unbreakable under the short ball, despite nearly every world team believing it to be his weakness.
The shot that defines Ponting’s batting is pull and hook. Not many made it look easier.
When we look at ODI batting records, Ponting is a clear winner. Averages 10 more with the bat and made 27 more ODI hundreds. Waugh however took 195 ODI wickets. What does that add to the debate?
Let’s look at their captaincy skills.
Was Waugh a better captain than Ponting? I think so.
Waugh led Australia in 15 of the 16 consecutive Tests won record. An amazing achievement that had never been done before…until Ponting also led a team to 16 consecutive Test wins.
He also made batting with the tail fashionable. He trusted his lower order players. He let them face balls rather than protect them from the strike. This in itself changed the way the game was played for a period.
It’s hard to find a similar anecdote about Ponting. Perhaps a story exists here or there, but there were no consistent themes like with Waugh.
Waugh also gets the nod with the ball, but only because he once bowled. Not because his bowling was necessarily great.
Although he bowled in the early years, that was quickly put away, with him not bowling more than 10 overs in a Test innings past Jan 1998 through to his retirement 6 years later. So in the Test sense, Waugh moved from a brash all rounder to a dour middle order batsman.
Both men were real fighters.
Who will forget Waugh’s career saving 100 against England at the SCG in 2003 or the 1989 Ashes series that introduced his brilliance to the world? What about Ponting’s World Cup 140* in the 2003 World Cup final?
This list could go on for quite a while.
So who would I pick as the winner?
Call me old fashioned, but Steve Waugh represents an Australian cricketer of a now by-gone era. Tough. No hair gel. No IPL. Not that Ponting can be blamed for when he was born, but Waugh for me represented something, perhaps a set of values, that I wanted to be attached to.
Ponting, while still a great of the game, was just not as great.
Cricket is usually defined by statistics. In this instance, I am defining it by what feels right.
I haven’t gone into to too much depth with the analysis. That’s your job.
This is a discussion piece. So let’s discuss.
Lord’s gave us the topic with their marvellous video. We get to decide a winner.
I say it’s Waugh. What do you think?