Digicel Feature Article: Ponting’s Taylor-made dilemma

The captain of a team is a natural target for opposition bowlers. Not very many teams have been able to tame the run machine that is Australian captain Ricky Ponting.

For the record, he has a cool 24,057 international runs, averages 55.88 in Test cricket and 43.19 in One Day Internationals, and has notched up 66 hundreds for Australia along with 123 fifties.

To say that those are imposing statistics which make bowlers quiver will qualify as a glorious understatement.

However, the West Indies have a man in their line up who has never quivered in the face of the Ponting challenge. In fact, this man has prevailed with such alarming distinction that Ponting may be the one to quiver when they meet again. Jerome Taylor is his name. And the elegant West Indian fast bowler appears to have the great Ponting?s number.

16134_350983040192_828345192_9817822_4098332_nThe statistics tell the simultaneously sorry and splendid tale depending on your perspective.

The two have faced off in two Test matches thus far and a similar number of Twenty20s along with seven ODI’s. Ponting did not bat in one of the Twenty20s so Taylor bowled to him on twelve separate occasions in those matches.

In the lone T20 contest ? their most recent encounter ? Taylor needed just one delivery to dispose of Ponting for a first ball duck.

Ponting?s miserable run against Taylor dates back to September 2006 in Malaysia of all places. The then 22 year old Taylor had Ponting lbw for 6 in the DLF Cup at the quaint Kinrara Oval. Taylor has been Ponting?s nemesis ever since.

In the next match in Malaysia, Taylor did not get Ponting?s scalp – the honour went to left armer Ian Bradshaw as the Aussie captain got 54.

They met a few weeks later in the Champions Trophy in India. On both occasions Taylor induced Ponting failures, sending him back for one and a second ball duck.

In 2007, the pair had one meeting in the World Cup and Ponting avoided another Taylor dismissal as he was run out for 35.

Then a year later in St Vincent and Grenada, Taylor once again worked his magic, pocketing Ponting for lowly scores of 5 and 13.

In their two Test encounters, Taylor snared Ponting three times out of four innings, trapping him lbw for 18 and 38 and having him caught for 65.

Only twice has Ponting scored fifties when going up against Taylor and never has he scored a hundred with Taylor in the opposition attack – and Ponting hundreds are otherwise as frequent as flights into Heathrow.

All told, Ponting has scored a mere 274 runs against the West Indies when Taylor has played and at a very ?un-Ponting-esque? average of 22.8.

Of the 12 occasions that the two have met, Taylor prevailed an astounding nine times. Those are memories to cause Ponting more than mild discomfort as he walks out to bat in the first Test at the Gabba on November 26th.

Taylor?s ability to bowl lethal inswingers at Ponting early in his innings has brought around the Aussie captain?s regular demise. Of the nine times Taylor has snapped him up, five have been through lbws, another two have been bowled and the other two were caughts.

So far, it has really been a dream run for Taylor against Ponting. Perhaps no other bowler in the history of the game can claim to have had such astonishing returns against a batsman of the rare pedigree of Ponting.

Six occasions are around the corner when the two will continue their lop-sided duel. Should the trend continue, it will not make for pleasant reading for the Aussie skipper, but the two have never gone head-to-head on Australian soil. Home turf may just bring better luck but West Indians will hope not. {NBAll pictures courtesy: Brooks La Touche Photography and DigicelCricket.com}

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