Long before he made his Australia debut and became one of the game’s modern greats, a nine-year-old Ricky Ponting, typically prolific, forced Tasmania to change their batting rules by remaining unbeaten for an entire season in the Eighties.
Ponting, who went on to score 27,368 internationals runs for Australia, the most by anyone for the country, showed early signs of his precocious talent through school and state cricket, earning a contract with bat makers Kookaburra at the age of 12.
In fact, he was so good at school cricket that he forced his state to change the rules of the game, ensuring that every batsman retired at the score of 30.
“As a nine-year-old, I played the whole first season of school cricket without getting out and then at the start of the next year, they changed the rules so that you had to retire at 30,” Ponting told Herald Sun, recalling some of his earliest exploits with the bat.
Whip-smart as he was, Ponting still found a way to maximise his time in the middle, hogging strike for most of the over before cheekily switching ends to retain strike.
“So from there on, I’d open the batting, try and face as many balls as I could, and not score many runs. I’d get a single on the last ball of every over, so I retained the strike. I’d get to the other end and ask the umpire what I was on. I’d try to get to 29 and hit a four or six off the last ball.”
Famously hailed by Rod Marsh in 1991 as the “best 17-year-old batsman he’s seen”, Ponting went on to make his Australia debut four seasons later, playing 560 international games until his retirement in 2012.