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Ricky Ponting

November 23, 2010 12:00AM

JUST when you thought Australia’s preparations for the opening Ashes Test couldn’t get any worse … the first mystery ball of the summer almost knocked Ricky Ponting’s head off.

Australia’s Test skipper narrowly avoided being struck by friendly fire in a dramatic scare while he was facing Australia’s sophisticated new Pro-Batter machine at the Allan Border Field nets in Brisbane yesterday.

Trouble came calling when Ponting was facing the hi-tech machine, where real-life videos of bowlers are played and a ball shoots out from a hole where the bowler’s hand comes down.

A video likeness of young Victorian fast bowler James Pattinson was charging in towards Ponting when the video screen suddenly went blank before a short-pitched ball spat out and viciously bounced up at an unprepared Ponting.

The Australian captain rocked onto the back foot to deflect the ball away from his body, only three days out from the first Ashes Test.

“There was a little malfunction with the machine,” a startled Ponting said.

“The bowler was just about to load up and the ball came out of the hole. You can imagine that surprised me a little bit.”

Opener Shane Watson lasted just two balls before leaving the nets shaking his head in disgust yesterday.

“I’ll try anything once,” he murmured after being clean bowled and then edging a video delivery from Pattinson.

“I don’t think this is for me.”

While his teammates giggled Watson was stony-faced, with little chance of him fronting up against the Pro-Batter again this week.

“I don’t think he quite got his timing right on that, as you probably saw,” Ponting said.

Veteran batsman Mike Hussey fared better in an extended hit-out but clearly there are gremlins that need to be ironed out. The other problem with the $55,000 Pro-Batter – a similar system to what England have had for months – is that it does not yet have any footage of England’s Test bowlers.

Behind the hole in the video wall there is a sophisticated bowling machine which can be tuned to replicate the styles of the man delivering the ball on the screen. It can be programmed to mimic any bowler in the world, but it has to have actual footage of the bowlers and their styles to program into the computer.

So while England’s batsmen have prepared by facing the likes of Mitchell Johnson in the nets, Australia have had to make do with a limited selection of primarily Australian domestic bowlers.



Ricky Ponting was born on December 19th, 1974 according to

December 19th

12 + 19 +2+0+0+9 = 42 = his personal year (from December 19th, 2009 to December 18th, 2010) = Relationships.  Everybody loves Ricky.

42 year + 11 (November) = 53 = his personal month (from November 19th, 2010 to December 18th, 2010) = Straightforward.  Straight to the point.

53 month + 23 (23rd of the month on November 23rd, 2010) = 76 = his personal day = Efficiency.  Stand ’em up and knock ’em down.


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