Symonds has grown into a Test batsman of stature: Ponting

May 30th, 2008 - 1:10 pm ICT by admin  

Sydney, May 30 (IANS) Australian captain Ricky Ponting says his teammate Andrew Symonds has developed into very good Test player and that he is no longer a bits-and-pieces player. After Symonds scored 70s in both the innings of the first Test against West Indies at Sabina Park, Kingston, Jamaica, Ponting has extolled the all-rounder’s virtues in a signed article in The Australian.

“We all knew he could hit the ball as hard and as far as anyone, but when you add a rock solid defensive technique to that as well then you are turning yourself into a very good Test player,” Ponting wrote in his article.

Ponting went on to add that Symonds continues to grow as a Test player, his maturity and his approach compared to three years ago is chalk and cheese. Ponting thinks Symonds has probably never played a better knock than during the second innings of the first Test.

“Now we are starting to see the cricketer we all thought he could be. We were 5-18 in the second innings and the responsibility for us getting a decent total rested on his shoulders. If he didn’t get runs it could have been game over.

“It was difficult to score out there and it was one of those situations where we had to grind out a total which we don’t often have to do. The West Indies bowled well, we lost early wickets, there was a lot of pressure and we couldn’t afford to take risks.”

Ponting feels that the Sabina Park pitch had lost its life and there was just enough seam and bounce variation to make the batsmen apprehensive.

“You know what happens when a batsman is thinking like that. We had to wait for bad balls to score and that is what Symo did.

“To play as defensively as he did and as well as he did was one of the key defining factors of us winning that Test match.”

Ponting has said so to Symonds as well as at the team meeting about his growing stature. He though the reason he had success in the Kingston Test was because his defence was so tight.

“Looking back at when he started in the one-day team, we didn’t expect a lot of him. If he got runs we saw that as a luxury and great for the team, but in the past few years he has lifted his game and added that other dimension so when we get in difficult situations he gets the job done.

“It says a lot about his character and his skills and the way he has developed his game. I think now he looks at himself as a No 6 batsman and not a bits-and-pieces all-rounder that he was perceived when he first started playing one-day cricket.

“He’s the No 6 batsman in the Test team and he’s playing well enough to justify that.

“You started to see that against England at the MCG in the Ashes when he scored that 156, that was a defining innings for him. There were hints, too, on the tour of South Africa before that.”

Ponting goes on to say that Symonds has had those defining moments in both forms of the game, his 140-odd in the first game of the World Cup against Pakistan in 2003 was where his one-day career was ignited.

“He’s getting that consistency at Test level now. There was that 160 against India at the SCG last year. He is turning those starts into good scores, which is what you need to be a good player.”

Ponting says when Symonds started, he was living under that tag as the super talented striker of a cricket ball but he worked out for himself that if he was going to be a good Test player he had to add some other dimensions to his game.

“A lot of players have to add the hitting dimension to their game to become better players but he’s had to do it the other way around and the way he’s done it is terrific.

“Early in his career, he was not as confident as he looked. He knew he could hit a cover drive and a cut shot and those things and do them as well as most players, but he didn’t really know how to build an innings.”

Ponting backed the Queenslander even when doubts were expressed about his temperament and ability to score at the highest level.

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