Stellar RICKY PONTING
Q &A former cricketer “No doubt my name will feature in [Michael Clarke’s book]. It probably won’t be all positive”
The Australian Test captain is said to be the second-most important job in the country – behind being PM. How heavily did that weigh on you during your reign? It actually didn’t. I really enjoyed the time I had as the Australian captain and I didn’t think about the enormity of the job. I had a job to do: I had a squad of players to look after and I wanted to win as many games as I could. As captain, I felt like I was the protector of the team. If we lost, I wanted to be able to take all that and shield the players from it. That’s how I looked at the captaincy: I’m the senior man, I’m in charge, and whatever good or bad comes along, I’ll be responsible for that. You’re known for being a tough competitor, but your wife, Rianna, studied law. Who wins the debates at home? Do men ever win debates in households? Rianna is obviously very intelligent, that’s one of the things that attracted me to her. She’s very driven and had great plans for what she wanted to do with her life. But since we met and said we weren’t going to have more than three weeks apart, she hasn’t been able to fulfil some of the things she wanted to do. With her double degree, she could do whatever she wanted to in the workforce. She might have to do that in the next couple of years, when things start drying up for me. What’s harder: getting three kids fed, dressed and out the door in the morning, or playing an Ashes Test at Lord’s? Oh that’s easy, at least I know what I’m doing when I’m playing cricket! No, to be honest, I don’t mind the morning time with the kids, getting them up and organised for school – I quite enjoy that. It’s the dinnertime after school, getting them bathed, off to bed, reading them a story, that’s the time of the day you want to be relaxing yourself but you’re sort of working overtime. How do you get to sleep after all that? Towards the end of my career when things weren’t going as well as I would have liked, I was taking a couple of Swisse Ultiboost tablets every night to get to sleep. You filmed the new campaign for Swisse in India. What was the best part of the day? We took over a fishing village on the side of a river in Mumbai. All the locals joined in with the filming, helping out and being extras. They were leading their normal lives and there we were with a production crew of about 100 people taking over. Poverty is widespread in India. Is it difficult to return from there to your comfortable life and Brighton mansion in Melbourne? Well, no – I’m coming back to my family. I coach the Mumbai Indians for 10 weeks every year over there and it’s always nice to come back home, but you certainly have an appreciation for how certain parts of the world live. My wife and I have spoken a lot about this over the years; it would be great for every young
Australian to be able to make an overseas trip to places like India and get an appreciation for how good we have it in Australia, because it definitely is an eye-opener. This month marks the second anniversary of Phillip Hughes’s death. How will you remember him? I shared some great memories with Phil on and off the field. I was his first captain when he played for Australia and we spent some incredible times batting together. It’s been a sad time with the inquest, but I’ve got some great memories of Phil. It’s so sad to think that a tragic accident cut short what could have been an amazing international career. Have you read Michael Clarke’s autobiography? No, I haven’t read it, but I will. There’s no doubt my name will feature in there a little bit – it probably won’t be all positive stuff, but I’ll have a look. It’ll be interesting to see what his recollections of stories are compared to when I was playing. What did you think of Stellar’s recent cover with Shane Warne dressed up as a Ken doll? He was saying it was the first time in years that he’s fit into a pair of size 32 pants. One of the images where he’s standing nice and tall – it didn’t even look like he could breathe. He was breathing in that hard, but too scared to breathe out. Nothing surprises me with Warnie… What’s the best sledge you’ve ever heard? Or dished out? Nah, I never used to say anything. I just retaliated, never started anything. The best sledge I’ve ever heard was between [Australia’s] Mark Waugh and an English bowler. Mark was out batting and this particular bowler wasn’t bowling very well. It was his first game and Mark was saying how lucky he thought this guy was to have been playing for England; that he wasn’t good enough to be playing for England. And the guy said, “Well, hang on mate, I mightn’t be very good, but at least I’m the best player in my family.” There are a few signed cricket bats on ebay going for more than $150. What’s the strangest thing you’ve been asked to autograph for a fan? When I was doing book signings a couple of years ago, a little boy brought his bedroom door to the bookstore. I don’t know how they did it, but they had a full-sized image of me handpainted onto the door.