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Justin Langer column

Justin Langer
By Justin Langer
Former Australia batsman and Somerset captain

"There is no more humble person than the Australian skipper" says Langer
Australia will have to be ready to pounce on their wilting opponent and with the street fighting instincts of Ricky Ponting bubbling with anticipation, England will have to be on guard

Australian bias aside, the highlight of the third Test was watching Ricky Ponting become the highest Test run scorer for Australia. For a man with plenty more cricket left in him, this achievement is a sensational one.

Ever since I first laid eyes on the young prodigy from Tasmania, it was apparent he had a rare gift with a cricket bat in his hand.

In fact, whether he was kicking a football or swinging a golf club it was obvious that he possessed an incredible knack for ball sports with raw talent oozing from every pore in his body.

Typical of all great sportsmen it is his natural balance and grace which stands him ahead of the rest in terms of natural ability.

This balance and poise is best epitomised by the way Ricky is able to play the two toughest strokes in the game.

Those two strokes are the pull shot and the on-drive and there is no player in the world who plays these with the same consistency and timing as the Australian captain.

Time after time my mind has been blown by the ease in which Ponting gets off the mark with a perfectly executed straight or on-drive down the ground. In these shots alone, Ponting shows his mastery of the art of batting.

However, during this series it has frustrated me to see the way he has been depicted by the media.

606: DEBATE
The12thman

Admittedly the English media can be harsh and cynical at the best of times but as a friend and former team-mate, the perception or depiction of Ponting the man can't be further from the reality.

There is no more humble person than the Australian skipper and while he has new challenges with this younger, inexperienced Test team, everything considered, he is the one man who can lead them through this new era.

Among his peers the respect for him is immense and behind the scowl which adorns the face of many champion sportsmen, 'Punter' is a generous and loving family man who has gone the full circle from tough street fighter to consummate professional and ambassador for the game of cricket.

He is a champion in every sense of the word and while he is at the helm, this series is well and truly alive and kicking.

The word momentum is often used but after the rain-interrupted Edgbaston Test I am sensing a slight shifting of momentum back in Australia's favour.

After the first Test, although the visitors dominated most of the match, the last day in Cardiff seemed to play havoc with the psyche of the young Australians.

You could almost sense that the frustration and disappointment of not banking the result took away the energy and spark of the Australians at Lord's.

Langer said North and Clarke were Australia's match savers
North and Clarke were Australia's match savers at Edbaston

England pounced on this flatness and took the match in impressive fashion.

Watching the match-saving partnership between Michael Clarke and Marcus North on Monday, I couldn't help but draw parallels between England toiling unsuccessfully and Australia missing out on an expected victory at Cardiff.

There is no doubt Andrew Flintoff is struggling physically and with England's bowlers having to turn up fresh on Friday, Australia will know they have a chance to wrestle back the initiative may present itself in the very near future.

Obviously Australia will have to be ready to pounce on their wilting opponent and with the street fighting instincts of the Australian captain bubbling with anticipation, England will have to be on guard.

England still hold the cards but my sense is that they will feel less at ease than they did six days ago.

Once again the Ashes are providing a wonderful spectacle for Test cricket.

Roll on round four.

From Edgbaston,

JL



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see also
Ponting plays down crowd antics
06 Aug 09 |  Australia
Aussies defy England to earn draw
03 Aug 09 |  England
Justin Langer column
29 Jul 09 |  Cricket
Flintoff inspires England victory
20 Jul 09 |  England
Justin Langer column
13 Jul 09 |  Cricket
Defiant England cling on for draw
12 Jul 09 |  England
Australia in England 2009
20 Sep 09 |  England


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