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Is Roach the reason?

Kemar Roach (left) and Ricky Ponting.

BRISBANE – †West Indies fast bowler Kemar Roach says he was the “spark” that started recently retired Ricky Ponting’s long slide into retirement.

On the West Indies’ 2009 Test tour of Australia Roach fractured the Australian Test legend’s elbow with a searing bouncer in the Perth Test.

It forced Ponting to retire hurt for the first time in his Test career and his aura as one of the world’s great batsmen took a giant hit as he was sent to hospital.

There is little doubt it was the start of the end for Ponting, as it showed the world his reflexes were fading … and statistical evidence indicates he was on the way out as far back as 2009.

Before he was hit by Roach, Ponting boasted a Test average of 55.61 with 38 centuries. After the dramatic moment, Ponting averaged only 36 in his next 30 Tests with just three centuries.

“It was probably a little spark that I started,” Roach told the Australia media on the weekend.†

“I was 21 years old and Ricky was a great batsman, but I went out there and tried to attack him.

“It was on the cards, to go out there and really have a go at him. We discussed in team meetings that Ricky was getting a bit older and his reflexes weren’t as good. He was ageing and his muscles were slowing up and the short ball wasn’t going to be as easy for him to pick up as it was before.

“We thought that a couple of good short balls would get him. The ball I hit him with was a normal short ball, but he didn’t pick the line up and ducked into it.”

After the Roach bouncer war in 2009, Ponting refused to believe the West Indies’ had exploited a chink in his armour and he kept playing trademark hook and pull shots.

Ponting went on to have some moments of Test glory, notably against India in the home summer of 2011-12, but was never quite the same batsman, especially against high-quality pace bowling.

Roach, back in Australia this summer as an international Big Bash signing for the Heat, says that hitting Ponting remains the highlight of his career despite taking a hat-trick in the 2011 World Cup.

“To actually make Ricky Ponting retire hurt, that was a brilliant achievement for me because he had never done it before in his life,” Roach said.

“That is my career highlight, I just love telling everyone about it. That is No.1 thing I have done in my career and I will always remember that day.

“Ricky Ponting was such a great batsman for a long period of time and I loved being able to get the better of him on that day.”††

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