According to Adam Gilchrist, Australia’s greatest even cricketer, Ricky Ponting, missed his calling when he took up the willow over the persimmon.
For those whose expertise does not extend to wood species, willow is the wood of choice for cricket bats, but persimmon used to be the preference when it came to drivers and fairway woods used in the game of golf.
Now that metal has supplanted wood in golf clubs, we can only hope that metal cricket bats do not supplant willow, not even to the extent that metal bats have taken over from ash and maple for baseball bats.
In a lighthearted interview on Fox Footy’s Bob, Gilchrist waxed poetic about Ponting’s ability with the devil’s sticks and his equally devilish dimpled white balls.
Ponting can do everything, he was very skillful,” Gilchrist said. “I think Punter definitely played the wrong sport. In addition, that’s a big thing to say about our highest ever Test run scorer. He hits a golf ball like there’s no tomorrow.”
Gilchrist may be right, but he is not alone in his evaluation of Ponting’s skill on the golf course. None other than Jordan Spieth was of a similar disposition.
“Boy, he has a really solid game. He can bomb it,” Spieth said after playing the Australian Open pro-am with the former cricketer. “He has a nice putting stroke. You can tell he’s a scratch player just by when he sets up and hits one shot.”
A scratch player is one who has a handicap of zero or below. Ponting shot a three-under 69 on one occasion, playing in the Victorian Pro-Am.
For his part, Ponting said, “If I had of played golf only when I was a kid, with the hand-eye co-ordination stuff I have got, then yes maybe,” he said in 2017. “But I was playing cricket as a five, six, seven-year old and that was always going to be my sport.“Now that cricket is done and dusted, I have plenty of time to have fun on the golf course more than anything else.”
Many former great athletes of all codes have showed up at the golf course, only to give every appearance of being mere mortal humans.