Dear Ricky Ponting,
You don’t actually know me, in fact, we’ve never met but I am writing to thank you for the outstanding contribution you have made to my life, particularly my experience in India.
I’m an Australian girl who recently spent 2 ½ months in the exotic Indian sub-continent on my own and it seems you’re kind of a big deal around there.
Truth be told, I’m not much of a cricket fan. Actually, if I am to be completely honest, I’d rather watch my dribble make its descent than watch a cricket match, at least I know it will end faster. Please, don’t be insulted, I understand the passion for the game.
Like any dutiful Australian family, once winter turned the corner to spring/summer, there was no hope of watching anything but a proper game of cricket in our house over the weekend. My cricket induction started in the days of Dennis Lilly and Allan Border, when I was just learning to write my name. And, of course, no Australian kid grew up without a good game of street cricket but, by the time I was old enough to kick my wizz fizz habit, I was leveraging the game merely as a way to be with the boys.
No doubt, the game got a little exciting when Merv Hughes came on the field – that was always entertaining but, other than that, the bat, the ball and the whites just didn’t do it for me. Then I left for the States nearly 15 years ago and the only time I heard about cricket was when my Indian cab drivers in NYC tried to engage in conversation.
Those late night New York City cab rides were quite possibly the first time I’d ever heard of you Ricky, though I can’t really remember. But, there I was in India throwing your name around like Madonna throws her underwear. Locals asked me where I was from, I said Australia and immediately they lit up and engaged me like family, excitedly responding “Ricky Ponting!” It was like you were your own state within our great land.
“Yes, yes, Ricky Ponting” I would respond, perplexed but with a counterfeit look of praise and familiarity, and then they would want their photo taken with me. And I quickly realized……
Your name had currency.
Young school girls in Mysore, cab drivers in Bangalore and waiters in Goa all know you, Ricky Ponting. And I milked it! I hope you don’t mind.
When I was bartering for a Buddha and the merchant and I were at a standstill, you know what I did? Dropped your name, that’s what. If I could give my Buddha any other name it would be Ricky.
When the Rickshaw I was riding in ran out of petrol in a dark street in Mysore, the driver agreed to walk the 1km with me to my hotel. I won’t lie, I felt a little afraid. I was alone and it was dark and we walked in silence since he didn’t speak much English I tried small talk but we didn’t get very far and then he asked me my ‘village’. I paused for a moment and then responded “Ricky Ponting”, I didn’t even say Australia! He lit up, laughed and gave me, what I imagine was, the knowing look of cricket fans everywhere; Everything’s OK with Ricky Ponting.
So Ricky, from one non-cricket fan to a cricket legend. Thank you. Thank you for getting out there in your crisp whites, your genital hard hat and the searing heat to hit a red ball around and run back and forth for days on end.
There’s a Buddha with your name on it, if you want it.