Jock Campbell is a leading expert in athlete high performance, strength and conditioning. Jock will be providing exclusive insights throughout the 2012/13 Summer of Cricket.
When I heard Ricky Ponting was retiring it hit me like a ton of bricks. I think it was because he was the last of the Aussie players I started with way back in 2000 to retire. Even more so, it was because of the man he is, as tough and uncompromising a player I've ever seen, the ultimate competitor and the most honest performer I've seen especially about himself.
His self-assessment was and always is brutally honest. In his retirement press conference he said despite having a great preparation physically and being in great Sheffield Shield form, when the big moments arose he wasn't good enough. The great players always know when it's time – it's a mental thing usually, and Punter obviously knew. It has been a magnificent career where he led from the front in the field, with the bat and as a captain. He's achieved everything there is to achieve in cricket and won all the highest accolades the game can bestow.
I will miss pre-season trainings, where his return to our sessions always reminded me why I love training the most committed of athletes. Ricky had relentless enthusiasm and commitment and his departure from our great game to me is a weakening in "the Force".
I'm often asked what is my favorite cricketing memory of Punter is. There are so many, but I've narrowed it down to six favorite memories or characteristics of the little Tasmanian with the massive ticker.
• World Cup 2003 – This will always be a highlight. It was my favorite tour of all time. We won, which was our ultimate goal, but it was more about how hard we worked for it in the months leading up and the team spirit and bonding we had in the great team atmosphere that Punter created. He had total trust in his team, led from the front as always and left no stone unturned in our preparation.
• World Cup final 2003 – Ricky took the game away from India with 140 not out taking us to the highest ODI score in history at a World Cup Final. He was the right player for the big occasion and I've never seen a better performance when there is a World Cup is on the line. It was the greatest day in sport I've been involved with.
• Warney's 100th Test cap in 2002 – Ricky scored a great hundred hitting a six to win the match. This helped Australia to chase down 334 to win and keep our No1 Test ranking. A great innings in a great Test match and a fitting end bringing up his hundred and the win in one shot.
• In Mumbai on the 2001 tour, Damien Fleming and Ricky, both AFL fans, were having a private kicking duel. Flemmo was leading but Ricky's final kick would decide the comp. He missed, only just, but ran off trying to claim it. You could rarely beat Punter at anything, so I took great pleasure in confirming that Flemmo had won. Ricky has never accepted it. It was all part of the fun of touring and showing the competitive nature that you need to be the best. We're still talking about it 12 years later.
• Toughness and courage – There are so many incidents here that proved Ricky had this in buckets, but my favorite is when batting in a Test in Sharjah in 2002, where the temperature hit 52 degrees Celsius and he couldn't bat with a helmet on because it was too hot. He tried to duck a Mohammad Sami bouncer that didn't get up and was hit clean on the jaw. This dropped him, but not for long as he bounced back to his feet and batted on. This was part of what made Punter great. He was fearless and let his actions do the talking. I can still hear the sound of cricket ball clunking into bone now. He is as tough as they come.
• Pre-season training – Whenever Ricky came off tour and began pre-season training with me at Jock Athletic it was always inspiring. He was never a natural fitness trainer, it wasn't a part of his life like Justin Langer or Matty Hayden, but he was always 100 percent committed to becoming the best cricketer and cricket athlete he could be. He showed at every session why he was the best at his sport and having him back always reminded me why I loved training committed athletes like him. Training was always great fun as well. He was greatly encouraging but always had the smart Alec comments ready when needed, which are always welcome at our training. When he filled in his goals this year one of them was "to give 100 percent effort at every session", and I believe he did that.
I wish Ricky all the best - he will be successful at whatever he does in the future. I for one will miss him playing for Australia and will definitely miss our pre-seasons. But I'm sure he'll enjoy Christmas at home. Well-done Punter, thanks for all the great memories.
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