Pity poor Ricky Ponting. He really should employ the same scriptwriter as Shane Warne. When Warney was nearing the mammoth mark of 700 wickets, it was ordained that it should come at his home ground the MCG, in front of 98,000 people, against the old enemy England, and on the Boxing Day of the much heralded Boxing Day Test. When Punter came to reach the mark of 10,000 runs, the second fastest man to reach the milestone, it was ordained that he should achieve it in the cavernous Viv Richards stadium, somewhere in the middle of Antigua, at a game which attracted probably only about one-hundredth of those who witnessed Warne’s moment. Whether it was just false modesty or that individual landmarks are less important to him than the team ethos, Ponting seemed not to have noticed when he scored the crucial run.
One man who, if the general consensus of his personality is accurate, should notice when he reaches the same landmark, and one who should do it in front of a much bigger, if not necessarily more appreciative crowd, is the one next in line, South Africa’s Jacques Kallis. Kallis, at present on 9,657 runs, needs only another 343 if my maths is right, to become the third man to reach the landmark against England, after Brian Lara and Steve Waugh. Chances are, as long as his team doesn’t beat England by an innings in any of their four Tests this summer, he will reach 10,000 runs at the Oval, which would give a nice sense of symmetry to an international career that started against us at Durban in 1995, if inauspiciously – he scored only one, a victim of Lancashire’s Peter Martin, as barely two innings were completed in a match soured by persistent drizzle. I should know, I was there, sitting in a soulless hotel for the three days that were almost completely washed out.
However, there are some statistics at work that suggest Kallis will have to improve on his performances over here if he wants a final day standing ovation in front of the gasometers. While his overall Test average, 57.14, would indicate that six of a possible eight innings should be enough for him, his stats against England, and in England, reveal a need for improvement: an average of 47.06 falls to 37.07 over here and, if he fails to increase that, he would, by my reckoning, fall about 46 runs short.
Then, a sorry fate would await him: completing his 10,000 in front of those South African who bother to turn out for the two Tests in November against Bangladesh. It makes Ponting’s moment seem quite glamorous in comparison.