In the embryonic stage of Ricky Ponting’s cricket career, the Tasmanian quickly made a major impression.
The first time academy coach Rod Marsh watched an unperturbed Ponting pull bouncers off his nose with ease, he famously tipped the teenager would carve out a stellar international career.
Marsh was on the money.
Ponting became Australia’s leading run-scorer in both Tests and ODIs, won three World Cups and was appointed the nation’s 42nd Test captain.
The 40-year-old’s coaching career is only beginning, but the early signs suggest it’s a field he could achieve much in.
Ponting was appointed coach of Indian Premier League side Mumbai on potential, a move which attracted some criticism after they opened the season with four losses.
His stocks have since rocketed.
The Indians won eight of their next 10 and upset the Chennai Super Kings in a qualifying final to book a spot in the decider, which starts at 12.30am AEST on Monday.
Chennai, who earned a second chance by topping the table, also advanced to the final when Michael Hussey’s half-century delivered his side a three-wicket win over Bangalore on Saturday.
Ponting suggested there was no secret behind his early success as coach.
“Bringing a team together has never been difficult for me,” he told The Times of India.
“You just need to spend time with each individual and understand them and what makes them tick. I think if you spend time with people, they start responding to your suggestions.”
Regardless of the result on Monday, Mumbai opener Aaron Finch believes Ponting deserves plenty of plaudits.
“It’s his first coaching job and he was absolutely outstanding,” Finch told AAP.
“Being one of the best players in the world for a long time, he commanded that respect to start with and straight away he had the boys’ attention.
“But what impressed me was his energy and drive for the players to get better, plus his attention to detail.”
Ponting is on record as saying he has little interest in becoming a full-time coach, but Finch hopes he might reconsider.
“With a guy as experienced as him, it’d be a shame if it didn’t turn into a long-term thing,” he said.
“But I also understand he’s got a young family and spending 20 years on the road and missing parts of his children’s upbringing, he’d want to be there as much as he can for them now.”
Ponting signed Finch for $A662,000 during this year’s auction, but was forced to rejig his best-laid plans after Australia’s Twenty20 captain suffered a serious hamstring injury.
Lendl Simmons and Parthiv Patel’s opening partnership has since been one of Mumbai’s strengths.
“They’ve created a really good foundation for the rest of the team,” Finch said.
“Then with the ball, Lasith Malinga and Mitchell McClenaghan are match-winners and Harbhajan Singh’s been great in the middle overs.
“Hopefully they can get the job done.”