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Last Updated:  Monday, 17 March, 2003, 11:06 GMT
Knockabout kid waits his turn
By Jonathon Moore
BBC Sport

Ricky Ponting
Ricky Ponting is odds-on to take over the Test captaincy
Ricky Ponting has long been earmarked as the heir apparent to Australian Test captain Steve Waugh.

And further confirmation arrived on Monday, with the news he had been awarded the vice-captaincy, in place of Adam Gilchrist.

Once regarded as an ambitious, if flawed maverick from Tasmania, Ponting's ability to harness his undoubted talent has been handsomely rewarded.

And his success since taking over as one-day captain has proved beyond all doubt he has matured sufficiently to take up the reigns of one of the most high profile jobs in Australia.

Ponting's rise through the cricketing ranks was by no means guaranteed.

Despite a Test and one-day average of more than 40, his ability to create headlines off the field almost derailed his international career before it had begun.

His experienced in a Calcutta nightclub in 1998 and then in similar surroundings on home ground in Sydney a few months later left his reputation badly tarnished.

"Ponting is an interesting person. He's from a very working class background and has always had something of the 'knockabout kid' about him," veteran broadcaster Neville Oliver, who has known Ponting since he was a child, told BBC Sport.

"He's got into trouble in the past for his many misdemeanours but there aren't too many 23-year-olds who haven't gone on the odd drinking spree."

CAREER STATISTICS
Test: Played 64; High score 197; Av 47.91; 100s 14; 50s 17
ODI: Played 166; High score 145; Av 41.21; 100s 12; 50s 31
After undergoing counselling Ponting promised to return to the international fold "squeaky clean".

He was true to his word and has since matured into one of the most respected cricketers in the world.

But evidence of his talent existed from an early age.

A precociously gifted player who rose to prominence after a brilliant early career, Ponting made his debut for Tasmania at 17.

His first appearance for Australia arrived at the age of 20 and he has been a near-permanent fixture in the Test and one-day international teams ever since.

At the age of 21 he became the youngest Australian to score a one-day ton and in 1999 grabbed the title of first Aussie to score 1,000 one-day runs in successive years.

Ponting has adopted Steve Waugh's 'never-say-die' philosophy
"My philosophy is to be fairly aggressive and attacking," he announced when he adopted the one-day job.

And he certainly hasn't disappointed, leading by example with the bat and providing a seamless link with the 'never-say-die' philosophy so favoured by his predecessor.

As one-day captain Ponting has enjoyed series victories against South Africa, Pakistan, Kenya and Sri Lanka.

In securing the recent VB Series, his reputation was further enhanced when his side finished the tournament with only one defeat in nine matches.

Ponting's personal tally of 306 runs at an average of 43.71 provided further proof of his devastating form with the bat.

But he no longer needs to prove anything to his former captain.

"I didn't see Bradman bat," said Waugh after Ponting's match-winning unbeaten second Test century against South Africa last year.

"But he couldn't have been much better than that."




SEE ALSO
Waugh keeps Test captaincy
17 Mar 03 |  Cricket

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