What would the game of cricket look like had Ricky Ponting decided that professional golf was a better route for him to pursue?
Many believe he had the skills, and hitting a cricket ball and a golf ball are remarkably similar, save for golf balls not moving at high velocity and cricket bats having a smidge more surface area than a one-iron.
Ponting was at the Australian Open to play in the pro-am alongside American Jordan Spieth, who seems intent on doing for Australian golf what Arnold Palmer did for the British Open.
Ponting pulled off a miraculous recovery shot from behind a tree on the 16th hole, hooking a wedge from a difficultposition to wind up just behind the flag.
The typically understated Spieth commented, “Ricky was awesome.”
“But, boy, he has a really solid game. He can bomb it. He has a nice putting stroke. You can tell he’s a scratch player just by when he sets up and hits one shot.”
Ponting said that playing in front of a gallery was more a source of anxiety than was playing with the world’s number two-ranked player.
“I was just really excited. I only found out three or four days ago it was going to happen,” he said.“I was supposed to be up in Brisbane last night getting ready to commentate the (first Ashes) Test tomorrow morning, but I put that on hold.”
Ponting expressed no regrets at choosing cricket over golf. “The thing is, when you have been good at another sport, people always say that you could have made it in something else,” Ponting said.
Ponting picked up a cricket bat as early as the age of five and had little time to devote to golf. He used those early skills to good advantage when he had time to golf following cricket. He says that he takes the same approach, however, striving to be his best.
Spieth expressed amazement that cricket has made few inroads in his native land. “To know that there’s a sport like that, that I would really enjoy being a lover of baseball and golf … I would have really enjoyed playing it growing up.”