Port of Spain: Having humbled him in 2009, Kemar Roach has said he will not be easing up on Ricky Ponting as their return duel becomes increasingly likely to have a say in the closing chapters of the former Australia captain's international career.
Roach was a 21-year-old unknown when he shook up Ponting and forced him to retire hurt with a badly bruised elbow during a Test match at the WACA three years ago, prompting the world's bowlers to home in on an area of Ponting's game - the short ball - that had previously been considered his greatest strength.
On the current Caribbean tour, Ponting's first since losing his ODI place, Roach has lined up his quarry once more, defeating him with a snorting delivery in the first innings of the Trinidad Test on the way to five wickets. There will be another few spars between the duo for the remainder of the series, and further slim scores for Ponting will give the national selectors cause for alarm about retaining him when Australia face South Africa in Test matches at home in November. Roach, however, is not losing any sleep over being implicit in bringing twilight to Ponting's career.
"Ricky Ponting's a great batsman, a legend of cricket. To get that wicket, on a difficult pitch, easy for batting, it's very good. I'll keep coming at him, that's my job, and I want to do it to the best of my ability," Roach said. "I say he's a challenge, I won't say I have the wood on him, he's a great batsman, I respect what he's done in cricket, but I have a job to do for my team. If that's to run at him, then I'm going to do it.
"It's up to him [if he keeps playing]. If you want to be a good bowler you have to challenge yourself against the best batsmen. So I enjoy the challenge. Any good batsman in the world to get their wicket helps to build your confidence as well."
Before departing for the West Indies, Ponting had claimed that their joust was largely responsible for Roach's swift acquisition of global notoriety and a rich IPL contract, and also indicated that he felt much better equipped to handle Roach in 2012 than he had been in 2009. "He probably owes me a little bit actually because he hit me on the elbow last time out here and I probably got him about a $1.5 million IPL deal as a result of that," Ponting said with a grin last month. "I feel a bit more in control of my game than I did last time they were out here so it will be a good contest, not just for me but for the rest of our batting group."
Roach said he had provided the best possible response to Ponting's gentle ribbing by claiming his wicket, and would be seeking to do so again before the series is out. He also felt he had "matured a lot" since their first meeting.
"He can say what he wants to say. I had to bowl the ball. I got the wicket, so that was it," Roach said. "I have no problem with that. Obviously it's a challenge and I like the challenge and I'm going to keep putting my best foot forward."sign.