Acclaimed by academy coach Rod Marsh as the best teenage batsman he had ever seen, Ricky Ponting began with Tasmania at 17 and Australia at 20, and was given out unluckily for 96 on his Test debut.
Following 96 on Test debut against Sri Lanka in 1995/96, Ricky Ponting became the man most likely to be Australia's premier batsman. Like many other before him, however, Ponting's talent could not justify a place in the Test side, dropped after a number of poor scores at number 3.
Early in his career, Ponting was a regular in the ODI side, where his fielding at point and excellent stroke play at number 3 made him a irresistible package for the shorter form of the game. His success in the shorter form had not transferred to the longer version.
Ponting confirmed his status as one of world cricket's brightest talents with a successful World Cup appearance in 1996. Soon enough, he was recalled to the Test side during the 1997 Ashes tour and responded in kind with his maiden Test hundred in a mammoth stand with Matthew Elliott in the fourth Test of the series.
Again, Ponting's talent did not bring regular runs and he was dumped from the side mid-way through the Ashes series of 1998/99 in favour of Darren Lehmann and looked like he would be most remember for his famous punch-up at Sydney's Bourbon and Beefsteak Hotel that led him once to admit publicly to an alcohol problem, but he became part of the heartbeat of one of Australia's most successful teams and after the retirement of Ian Healy he took over as the man who led the singing of the victory song.
Ponting defined himself as yet again one of ODI crickets premier batsmen with a number of telling innings from number 3 during World Cup 1999 in England. Following on from the excellent World Cup victory, Ponting finally established himself in the Test side during the tour of Sri Lanka, playing Muralidaran and co. with aplomb.
He finally began scoring consistently at number 6 in the Test side as his ODI career went from strength to strength. Following on from 3 ducks at the beginning of their home series against Pakistan in 1999/2000, he made a then career high 197 in Perth. He continued his good form in the Test matches throughout the summer until injury struck and he was ruled out of the tour of New Zealand with ankle damage.
Following his return to the side following injury, he played well against the West Indies at home but found a horror series against India in India, scoring less than 20 runs in the 3 Test matches.
Again his Test career was on the ropes, however, he fought back when promoted to number 3 in the Test side for Justin Langer and has since made the position his own, and now stands alongside Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and Matthew Hayden as his generations most consistent Test bat.
With many lessons learned, Ponting's growing maturity was acknowledged by the ACB when he saw off competition from Warne and Gilchrist to succeed Steve Waugh as Australia's one-day captain early in 2002, and with incredible happiness in his personal life, he lead Australia to a crushing victory in the 2003 World Cup where the team went through the tournament undefeated, and scored a hundred in the final to cap off a memorable 12 months. He followed this with his maiden Test double century and another 2 hundreds in the away Test Series in the West Indies.
His batting can be destructive and his fielding is feverish. He plays his shots all around the wicket and has scored one-day centuries against all the major cricketing nations.
Took over captaincy of the Test side for the Travelex Tour of Sri Lanka in 2004, winning the series 3-0.
* Information here is compiled using various sources including Cricket.net and CricInfo