By Ashish Shukla
Sydney: Jan 4, 2012
Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting, who silenced his critics by scoring a sparkling 134 against India, today said he hung in there because he had "hunger" to do well at the international level despite being under enormous pressure.
"If I didn't feel the hunger, I wouldn't be playing the game. There has been more pressure on me in recent times than at any stage of my career. I have had to work harder. I am a proud person and I want to finish off my career the way I wanted. I love a contest too much to give it away," Ponting, who notched up his 40th Test century, told reporters after the second day's play.
"I want to give myself the best chance, taking Australia from No 5 to top of the tree where we deserve to be," he said.
For someone who is 37 now, the key to do well at this age at the highest level is to retain one's self belief.
"Keep having the self belief. If you think you can do it, keep doing it. If you think training can't make you a better player, you are wasting your time. I have spoken to a lot of other great players who retired while I was playing. They said they couldn't find themselves to train as hard as they once did."
Ponting felt that the inner call was very important when one was standing at a difficult crossroad in one's career.
"Honestly, when I have looked at the mirror, I have known that I want to get better, keep scoring runs, keep playing."
Quizzed whether another veteran Jacques Kallis' 41st Test ton yesterday spurred him to do well, pat came a sarcastic reply, "If I have to get inspired by what's happening in other side of the world, I wouldn't be playing."
While his critics were baying for his blood, Ponting said that he was working very hard on some key technical aspects of the game.
"I have worked exceptionally hard in recent times. There were a few technical aspects of my game which I have been doing and which have now paid dividends. It's all starting to come back. There's rhythm about my batting again and I am feeling easy at the crease."
"It's amazing when you have a lean trot how little things creep into your head and come in between what you're trying to do," the veteran of 160 Tests said.
Ponting also stated that there is still a lot of work that needs to be done and he can't just sit back and rest on his laurels.
"It's amazing what confidence can do to you. But it's not about getting carried away. There are certain things I have to keep working on. There's second innings in this match. There is Perth and Adelaide, where we both (Michael Clarke) have had reasonable success. But you can't afford to look that far.
It's the next ball, the next time when you get a chance to bat."
The former captain praised Clarke's leadership skills and commented that the latter's batting has improved with added responsibility on his shoulders.
"If you look at the record, it suggests it has (Clarke has become better). It's fairly similar to me. His average went up a lot.
"As a leader, the stuff you do on the field --- bowling and fielding changes are the easier part. There's so much other than that is required (to be a successful captain) outside the field.
Ponting said a happy dressing room always helps in raising the level of performance.
"It helps to make the dressing room as happy as it can be. Michael has the ability to separate batting from captaincy, keep his personal life apart and lead from the front. It's very important (to keep things separate) and he's done very well." (PTI)