Ricky Ponting on Sachin Tendulkar: ‘He was technically the best batter, Kohli not in comparison yet’

Former Australian captain and Delhi Capitals head coach Ricky Ponting believes Sachin Tendulkar is ‘technically the best batter’ and there is no comparison between Virat Kohli and him just yet.

Talking on the ‘ICC Review’ on the eve of Tendulkar’s 50th birthday, Ponting said, “I’ve said forever, Sachin’s technically the best batter that I’ve ever seen, and played with or against.”

“Whatever plan that we came up with as a bowling group, he found a way to combat it, whether it was in India or Australia.

“It’s hard to rank and judge players as everyone is different and everyone plays the game differently. But certainly, through the generation I played, he was technically the best player I saw.”

Refusing to be drawn into comparing Tendulkar and Kohli just yet, he said, “trying to compare the times and I know Virat played a little bit in the back end of when Sachin played, but it is a bit of a different game now.”

“There’s different rules, for instance, around 50-over cricket, with less fielders outside the circle, two new balls, it makes it a lot easier now for batting than probably ever before.

“There’s no doubt that the bats have got better. Field restrictions and new balls are a big part of it as well,” Ponting opined.

He recalled how, during Tendulkar’s times, facing the old ball, which was reverse swinging, used to be a tough task.

“When Sachin was playing ODIs, the ball at the end of a 50-over game was very hard to see. It was very soft. It was very hard to hit, it reverse swung. You don’t see that at all in the modern 50-over game,” said Ponting.

Ponting believes a fair comparison between Tendulkar and Kohli could be made once Kohli completes his international career.

“Virat’s got all that (time) ahead of him just yet. He’s an unbelievably good player, there’s no doubt about that. He’s got over 70-odd international hundreds now. Sachin made a 100 (centuries), didn’t he? Let’s wait until Virat’s career’s over and then I think it’ll a much fairer comparison.”

Ponting feels longevity in the game is a big parameter to judge a player and Tendulkar, having played for more than two decades, is high up in the pecking order.

Tendulkar played 200 Tests and 463 ODIs during the period, scoring 51 and 49 centuries respectively in the two formats and holds the distinction of being the highest run-getter of all-time.

“I always like to judge the quality of players on their longevity in the game. I think that’s the best way to judge players because maintaining such a higher level of excellence for so long is the hardest thing to do.

“Some players can come in and do it for three or four years and look like the best players in the world, but the very, very best sustain it for long periods of time and Sachin sustained it for more than 20 years at the international level.”

He recalled Tendulkar’s 241 against Australia at the SCG during the drawn fourth Test of the 2003-04 series. Ponting, who was a part of Steve Waugh’s side then, said it was awe-inspiring to watch his straight drives.

“I think his straight driving was his best shot. Whether it be on the front foot or even back foot — because he was short in stature, he won’t mind me saying that — he was able to sort of stand up on top of the bounce of the ball and punch it back down the ground, off the front foot or back foot.”

That marathon inning helped the Sourav Ganguly-led side post 705 for seven declared. Tendulkar remained unbeaten on 60 in the second innings.

“The trademark things you think about with Tendulkar was just seeing the full face of that bat coming straight back down the line of the ball and straight back past the bowler. So, I think that’d be his trademark for sure.”

(with inputs from PTI)

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