The batting juggernaut that is Ricky
Ponting continued overnight, with the Australian captain becoming the first and
only player since Sunil Gavaskar to score a century in each innings for the
third time.

It’s one of the few batting records that
hasn’t had the name Bradman attached to it, although fans of the Don can always
point to the great one’s limited number of Test appearances, especially
compared to Ponting, who has just clocked over his 100th Test, and
Gavaskar (125 Tests). Bradman, of course, played only 52 Tests.
For Ponting, all sorts of batting records
are there for the taking. He is now only two centuries short of Steve Waugh’s
record for the most Test tons by an Australian batsmen, and that mark could be
equalled in the next Test the way the Tasmanian is batting.

Still young by Test batsman standards,
Ponting’s career appears certain to eclipse any of the modern day greats,
certainly in Australia, and he looks increasingly impressive when his achievements are put
toe-to-toe with Lara and Tendulkar.

If nothing else, Ponting must be one of
history’s greatest batsmen ever as a captain – having found new levels of
achievement since taking over as skipper. Over the last seven Tests alone, he
has made 1,022 runs. During the
Tests against South Africa – three at home, the latest in South Africa – he has
notched four hundreds in nine
innings, en route to 693 runs, at an average of 86.63. How long can this go on?

He never looked like missing his twin ton
last night, cruising to 116 while setting South Africa a total of 410 with a day and a bit to bat. Bad light then stopped
play with the locals on 0-29 and no doubt dreaming of that amazing batting
track a week or so ago when they managed to chase down 434 in a one-dayer.

Tonight – as long as rain and light don’t
interrupt proceedings – promises to be a harder grind for the South Africans,
with Shane Warne fresh and ready to exploit a day five wicket.

Peter Fray

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