“Sachin is an inspiration to me”, says Ponting

By Kersi Meher-Homji

Call me a name-dropper but November was a month to remember for me when I mingled freely with 16 past and present Test cricketers at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

On 24th November I attended the launch of Greg Chappell’s book “Fierce Focus” when I had the opportunity to meet the Chappell trio of Ian, Greg and Trevor, Doug Walters, Alan Davidson, Neil Harvey, Brian Booth, Brian Taber, Ian Davis and David Gilbert. Not to forget the attractive Ellyse Perry who represents Australian women in both cricket and football.

Among the VIPs present was India’s high Commissioner Sujata Singh, all the way from Canberra. She made a humorous presentation.

Fierce Focus” is a well produced book which traces the highs and highs of his cricket career, his encounters with Don Bradman (both pleasant and not so pleasant) and, among other items, gives us an insight into his acrimony with former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly when Greg was the coach of the Indian team in 2005 and 2006.

Greg hints in the book that Ganguly was selfish and self-centred. But he has nothing but praises for Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar.

The Foreword of the work is written by our very own Darshak Mehta who knows both Indian and Australian cricket and cricketers like the back of his hand.

Greg was interested when I told him that Suresh Raina and other young Indian cricketers are grateful for his coaching. When I sent him the article I received a very complimentary e-mail from him.

The next day was the media launch for the new cricket season at the Sydney Cricket Ground where five current Test players Ricky Ponting, the Johannesburg Test sensation Pat Cummins, Phil Hughes, Doug Bollinger and Usman Khawaja.

Cricket Australia’s sponsor Vodafone started the proceedings by announcing their new innovation, Vodafone Viewers Verdict (VVV), a world first. It will enable fans to have their say on sporting issues and controversies as they happen. This will be displayed live during the Channel 9 broadcasts of the 2011-12 Test series and other internationals.

For instance, soon after the TV umpire judges a batsman “out” or “not out” during a UDR, a viewer can give his / her opinion on their VVV-fitted Vodaphone.


After the formalities I had a chance to have brief chats with the players for TIDU readers.

Pat Cummins

“My half century [in the second innings of the Johannesburg Test] was important for two reasons, for the team and for me.

“I was pleased with my partnership with Uzy [Usman] on the fourth day. I told Pup [Michael Clarke] and Huss [Michael Hussey] on the final day that the first hour was important. Pup left early but Huss and I hung around.”

To my question on whether Sachin Tendulkar, 20 months his older and still scoring fluently, was an inspiration to him, he replied, “Yes — Sachin, Huss and Rahul Dravid are inspirational for me.”

Cummins described the Johannesburg Test as “unbelievable; a surreal experience!

Phil Hughes

Phil Hughes said that he was pleased with his 88 in the above Test. “Good to spend quality time with Watto [Shane Watson]. I’m looking forward to the new season and make opening position my own.”

Doug Bollinger

Doug Bollinger, nicknamed ”˜Doug the Rug’, said he will return to cricket as soon as he is fit. “I am awaiting India.”

Usman Khawaja

Usman Khawaja recalled his 62 and his 115 runs partnership with Ricky in Johannesburg as memorable.

Was he disappointed to be dismissed two balls before stumps on day-4. “Oh yes”, he replied. “The same thing had happened to me in the Sydney Test against England in January.”

He disagreed with me that he had trouble reading South Africa’s Imran Tahir’s googly. “I spotted his googlies earlier on but the ball that dismissed me was a very good delivery.”

What if he was asked to open the batting in the coming series? “If the captain asks me to, I’ll do so. I have batted as an opener, at no.3 or any other position”, Uzy replied with a straight bat.


All five are awaiting their Test tussles with India under MS Dhoni starting in Melbourne on 26th December.

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