Ricky Ponting turns back the clock one last time

Surrey 198 & 186-2 Nottinghamshire 410

The Oval

The hands of the old clock that sits atop the members' pavilion here at The Oval were almost touching in applause when Ricky Ponting stepped out to begin his final first-class innings. They were joined in paying tribute by the loyal locals who had shunned the drama of the Ashes to witness the final chapter – his impending Twenty20 knocks are mere epilogue – in the career of Australia's finest batsman since Sir Don Bradman.

The face of the very same clock was on hand 65 years ago to bear witness to The Don's final Test innings. On that August day in 1948, England's legspinner Eric Hollies famously bowled Bradman for a duck that left the game's greatest bat with a Test average of 99.94. Ponting, who finished with a Test average of 51.85, avoided such an ignominious ending with a stolen single through point. It was the first of 41 runs the 38-year-old scored before walking off unbeaten at the close of play.

In the process Ponting passed 24,000 runs in first-class cricket – not that the devilish Tasmanian would give a monkey's about such personal milestones; he has always subsumed himself to the team.

When he came to crease for Surrey he had but one job to do: make sure he was still there at the close.

When he skipped and side-stepped his way to the middle, his adopted county was still 123 runs behind Nottinghamshire's first innings total of 410. By the time stumps were called, that deficit had reduced to just 26 as Ponting and Arun Harinath, who made 69 not out, combined for 97 unbroken third-wicket runs.

While Bradman had to contend with the leg-spin of Hollies, Ponting was faced with the less threatening left arm of Samit Patel. However, at the start of his innings the Australian was making the Nottinghamshire all-rounder look like "Deadly" Derek Underwood such was his tentative, even scratchy, footwork. Whisper it quietly, but watching the 2013 version of Ponting initially felt like watching the Rolling Stones at Glastonbury, especially as his first boundary trickled apologetically to the third-man rope. But then something clicked, provoked by a caressed drive through the covers, and he could have been an untamed teenager back at the Bellerive Oval.

But Ponting bats in the present, even if the old fluency has not proved ageless. At seven minutes to six, with the hands of the pavilion clock almost as far apart as mechanics allows, Harry Gurney had pitched one short, a dangerous ploy on this sleepy surface. Ponting smelt it, pressed forward, then rocked his weight on to the back foot, blade pointing high towards the late afternoon sun, and swivelled balletically into his signature pull shot.

The ball raced to the square-leg boundary and, just for a moment, Ponting had arrested time's slow march.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special
tvNick Frost, Natalie Gumede and Michael Troughton step up
Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Beard, Ben Schnetzer, Douglas Booth and Jack Farthing in ‘The Riot Club’
filmReview: Sheer nastiness of Riot Club takes you aback
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week