By Tony Becca - On The Boundary
Ponting... Man-of-the-match in first one-day match. - Dellmar
THE MAN of the match award at a cricket match often times goes unnoticed. Some times, however, it is not, and on those occasions it is hotly debated.
The award usually goes unnoticed for the simple reason that the vast majority of times, it goes to the batsman who scores the most runs, to the bowler who takes the most wickets, and some times to the player with a good all-round performance. Seldom does it go to a brilliant fielder, seldom does it go to a captain - regardless of his skill in leading the team and, unless his performance is so much better than anyone else's, seldom does it go to the player on the losing team.
Whenever the award does go to anyone but the top scorer or the one with the most wickets, there is always an argument - and that was the case on Saturday at Sabina Park when the adjudicator, former Jamaica captain and West Indies opening batsman, Easton McMorris, gave it to Australia's captain Ricky Ponting.
According to the fans, who on the following day and for good reason, also criticised West Indies captain Brian Lara for batting after winning the toss, the award should have gone to Ian Harvey the all-rounder who scored 48 not out off 30 deliveries at the end of Australia's innings and then took three wickets for 37 runs off seven overs.
While Harvey had a good claim, however, so too did Ponting, and hats off to McMorris who, probably because he was a captain himself, was bold enough to go against the norm and handed him the award.
Although the award usually goes to the batsman who scores the most runs or to the bowler with the most wickets, there are those who believe that the award should go to the player who influences the result of a match, and Ponting did influence the outcome of Saturday's match.
Not only did Ponting score 59 runs off 66 deliveries after going to bat with Australia on 47 for two, but he also marshalled his forces well in the field particularly after the rain when, with the West Indies needing 94 to win off 14 overs, he demonstrated his skill as a captain by the way he handled his bowlers and the way he set his field.
His field placing was so good that although Australia dropped a few catches, each one went exactly to a fielder.
Harvey, whose victims were Lara, Devon Smith and Marlon Samuels, could well have got the award, and maybe he should have got it. That, however, does not mean that Ponting did not deserve it and should not have got it.
Most times when a team loses a match - especially while it is in the field, it is the captain who is blamed. On Saturday, a captain not only stepped into the breach with the bat and he not only made it easier for those batting down the order at the tail-end of the innings, he also did a good job, and it is good that someone noticed it and that he was rewarded.