Melbourne:Paying tribute to the man who broke his record as Australia's hishest Test run getter, former captain Allan Border said Ricky Ponting is his country's greatest batsman after the incomparable Don Bradman.
"Ricky's done it all. I think he's probably our second best batsman after Bradman," said Border after Ponting went past his 11,174 runs on the second day of the third Ashes Test to become Australia's most prolific batsman.
Border compared Ponting with another Australian great Greg Chappell but said by the time the current captain hangs up his boot he will surpass all his illustrious compatriot except Bradman.
"We've had players like Greg Chappell and Steve Waugh who I've seen and other champions of the past," he said.
"It's hard to go past Greg Chappell as number two for Australia. He was a wonderful batsman, a wonderful catcher and bowled a bit. I haven't seen any pre-war stuff obviously.
"But looking at averages and reading and talking to old cricketers over the years I believe that by the time Ricky finishes he will be our next best," Border was quoted as saying by 'The Australian'.
What makes Ponting above the likes of Chappell and Waugh, according to Border, was the Tasmanian's adaptability to all three formats of the game.
"He excels at all forms of the game - Test, one-day and now Twenty20. He's been very adaptable.
"There is extra pressure on batsmen these days to score quickly; to come up with all the shots in one-day cricket and particularly Twenty20. Test cricket hasn't changed much but scoring rates have improved, probably due to shorter forms," Border said.
"It's just hard to draw marks against him, on his record, number of runs and hundreds he's scored, where and how he's done it. By end of his career his figures will be incredible. I reckon he's our next best," he added.
Border's 11,174 runs came in 156 Tests from 1978 to 1994 at an average of 50.56 and Ponting claimed the record in his 134th Test, averaging 56.
Ponting is now chasing the only two other members of the 11,000-run club - Brian Lara (11,953) and world record-holder Sachin Tendulkar (12,773).
Border believes Ponting is a complete batsman, and the only chink in the Tasmanian's armour was batting on slow and turning pitches.
"He's got all the shots, he pulls and cuts so well makes him very difficult to bowl to. There are guys who can pull and cut well, but aren't so good when they come onto the front foot or they might prefer one side of the wicket to the other.
"Ricky can also take on pace. He's pretty fearless. I just reckon when you've got those sort of qualities you're a pretty complete player. The only real problem I've seen in his game is when the pitches are slow and the ball is turning he comes back to the field a bit. But that's something he's worked on and got better at," he said.
Despite the duo's 19-year age difference, Border and Ponting crossed paths on the cricket field as after quiting international cricket, the veteran played on for Queensland in pursuit of winning the once-elusive Sheffield Shield.
"I played against him when he was a young punk. You could see the talent straight away. People had been talking about this young kid from Tasmania for years.
"He was a precocious talent. Rod Marsh as the academy coach had been pushing his bandwagon as the best young player he had seen. So I wasn't surprised when I saw him," Border said.
It was also no surprise that Border was impressed. During their first encounter, at Brisbane's Gabba in October 1994, Ponting scored 119 and 33. In their second and last meeting, in November 1995 at Bellerive Oval, the present Australian skipper made a pair of unbeaten centuries.
"He had all the right ingredients including a bit of mongrel about the way he played his cricket," said Border. "It was all there, but you just don't know how things are going to pan out.
"He had a presence about him and it looked as though he would play for Australia at some point, but then it's up to the individual and how he takes the opportunity and runs with it," he added.