Besides being one of the best batsmen of his generation, Ricky Ponting was one of the greatest fielders the game has ever seen. When not batting, Ponting was a master at work, taking spectacular catches (putting on a dive, or one-handed stunners) and stopping boundaries that no other man – perhaps besides Jonty Rhodes – could.
But what made Ponting a real fielding asset was his ability to affect run-outs, especially with direct hits. In 560 matches, Ponting has run batsmen out 80 times in Tests, ODIs and T20Is, the most by any fielder. Next are Rhodes (68), Sanath Jayasuriya (63) and Tillakaratne Dilshan (57). Based on those stats, Ponting could well be called the greatest fielder of all time to go with 364 international catches.
During the ‘Lessons Learnt With The Greats Podcast,’ with Shane Watson, Ponting, head coach of the Delhi Capitals, revealed his secret behind acing those brilliant run-out and direct-hits. “I fielded most of my one-day career at backward point,” Ponting said. “As soon as the field went out and there was a deep point, I would always move three or four steps finer towards third man but walk a different angle, so I’d walk an angle towards the bowler’s end stumps.”
Ponting, currently a coach with IPL team Delhi Capitals and working with some of the most talented fielders, further explained how he planned on getting an early start while fielding inside the circle.
“If I was going to get the run out from a ball pushed out towards deep point … the ball that was blocked in on or around point, I was making an angle towards the bowler’s end stumps so I was already moving in that direction and I was a couple of steps ahead of the batsman,” he said.
“Once (the batsman) played it down and saw it go into point, I was a lot closer than he thought I was going to be. I think that was one of the reasons I probably got as many run-outs with direct hits at the bowler’s end, because I’d got a few yards on them and they didn’t really know where I was going to be.”