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Ponting at peak of his powers

Greg Buckle | December 28, 2003 16:33 IST

Ricky Ponting, already a World Cup-winning captain, will take over the leadership of Australia's Test side from Steve Waugh next year at the peak of his powers as a batsman.

The 29-year-old Tasmanian has hit double centuries in his past two Tests, making a first innings 242 in the second Test against India earlier this month and a career-best of 257 in the third Test at Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday.

Ponting anchored Australia's innings of 558, a first innings lead of 192. The diminutive right-hander has scored 1,472 Test runs in 2003, beating opener Matthew Hayden's Australia record of 1,391 in 2001.

While Australia cricket fans prepare to farewell the game's most-capped player in Waugh's final match in the fourth Test against India starting in Sydney on January 2, Ponting is happily going about his work and not pondering the milestones he has achieved.

"This probably is the pinnacle of my career," Ponting said after hitting 26 boundaries in his 10 hour stay at the crease.

"The last 12 months have been pretty good for me," added the vice-captain after scoring his 20th Test hundred, which was his sixth this year and his third double century of 2003.

"I don't think about those things. A winning Test team, that's what it's all about."

Australia's Don Bradman, who averaged 99.94 in his 52-Test career and died in 2001 aged 92, is the only other player to have scored three Test double centuries in the same calendar year.

"The consistency has been the biggest thing for me this year. I think I have improved my batting," said Ponting, who has 74 caps and took over from Justin Langer at number three for Australia on the 2001 Ashes tour.

"When I first played Tests I was batting at six and it took a bit of getting used to.

"There's more opportunity there for me to succeed and I've made the most of it since I've been back at number three."

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