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Ricky Ponting has declared Cricinfo's Player of the Decade title an "extra satisfying" honour after he beat fellow greats including Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Shane Warne and Jacques Kallis for the award. A jury of 38 players, commentators and cricket writers gave Ponting the prize for a decade in which he was the leading run-scorer in Tests and ODIs, and captained Australia to two World Cup triumphs.
"It's a great thrill to be recognised in that way," Ponting said when told of his award. "I have played in an era where there's been a lot of great players. Some of the leading run-scorers of all time have played in my time and a lot of the leading wicket-takers of all time have played in my time as well. When you stack that up, to be recognised as the leading player in the decade against some of those other guys makes it a little bit more special.
"[I was told recently] in that period I was the leading run-scorer in Test cricket by a fair way and the leading run-scorer in one-day cricket by a little bit as well, which actually shocked me. I guess if you look back at your career, and mine has been 14 or 15 years in international cricket, the last 10 years has been pretty consistent for me. When you perform at a high level over such a long period of time you can be pretty proud of what you've achieved."
Ponting, who believes Kallis' all-round brilliance meant he was especially unlucky not to take the title, is particularly proud of his longevity in a game in which lengthy careers are becoming rarer. Tendulkar and Sanath Jayasuriya are two men who have stayed in the international spotlight for 20 years and if Ponting fulfills his aim of leading Australia in another Ashes tour, in 2013, he will go close to matching them.
|"Some of the leading run-scorers of all time have played in my time and a lot of the leading wicket-takers of all time have played in my time as well. When you stack that up, to be recognised as the leading player in the decade against some of those other guys makes it a little bit more special"|
Breaking records is inevitable for a man who has played for so long, and Ponting is Australia's leading run-scorer in Test and one-day international history. Last month he became the most successful Test captain of all time in terms of number of wins, and surpassed Shane Warne's record as the Test cricketer to have played in the most victories.
"When you play as much as I have, you have a lot of these little things that crop up - little records and milestones you break," Ponting said. "The captaincy one was one I'm proud of and the most Test wins of any player that's played the game, they're the things I'm most proud of. This one here, to be recognised over a 10-year period, is extra satisfying.
"The [other] thing that I'm proudest of over my whole career is the amount that I've played and how long I've played. I said that when I played my 100th Test, that one thing that I'm most proud of in my career has been my longevity and the fact that I've been able to play at a pretty high level for a long period of time. To be recognised as Cricinfo's player of the decade is a great honour and a great thrill."
Ponting was told of the award as he prepared for his 142nd Test and his sixth at his home ground in Hobart. Bellerive Oval was a second home for Ponting from his late teenage years, when he burst onto the Australian domestic scene in 1992-93, and back at the venue as a 35-year-old, having been judged as the decade's best player, he pondered the big changes he had seen in cricket.
"We've just got so many better athletes in the game these days," he said. "Guys are a lot fitter and stronger and leaner and more dynamic and explosive than they once were. You've only got to look at how far they're hitting the ball these days and how guys can maintain their pace over 10- or 12-over spells to work that out. That's probably the biggest thing that's changed in the game."
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo
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