On this day: Australia's Ricky Ponting scores 96 on Test debut

Twenty years ago today, a young Ricky Ponting scored 96 runs on his first ever Test appearance for Australia.

Some of the greatest players to have ever picked up a cricket bat have represented Australia.

Allan Border, Steve Waugh, Michael Clarke, Justin Langer and Sir Donald Bradman to name five have all worn the famous Baggy Green with distinction.

Ricky Ponting of Australia in action during the First Test between Australia ans Sri Lanka held at the WACA December 8, 1995© Getty Images

However, nobody has scored more Test runs for the Australians than Ricky Ponting, who from his 168 outings managed to pile up an impressive 13,378 to his name at an average of over 50.

Not only that, the Tasmania-born right-hander's return of 41 centuries has not been surpassed by any of his fellow countrymen, while only Border (63) contributed more half-centuries than Ponting (62).

The first of those half-centuries was scored 20 years ago today when a fresh-faced Ponting took to the crease for the first time as a Test player. The debutant, who was drafted in for the first Test against Sri Lanka in Perth, had been making an impression with some consistent displays in the 50-over format of the game.

The tourists batted first at the WACA, but they could only put 251 runs on the board before they were bowled out. Glenn McGrath was the pick of the Aussie bowlers, ending with figures of 4-81.

Ricky Ponting of Australia celebrates making a half century on debut during the First Test between Australia ans Sri Lanka held at the WACA December 8, 1995© Getty Images

In reply, Michael Slater and Mark Taylor put the hosts in a commanding position thanks to an opening stand of 228 runs. Slater went on to score 219 runs on his own, while number four batsman Mark Waugh added a further 111.

The dismissal of Waugh brought Ponting, who was batting at number five, to the middle. Just nine days short of his 21st birthday, he went on to produce a memorable innings on debut, yet it could have been very different.

Facing spin-bowler Muttiah Muralitharan first ball, it seemed that Ponting was overly eager to make an impression. He danced down the track, but could only edge to first slip. Luckily for the youngster, the ball was put down and ran through for four.

Having had a lucky escape and got himself off the mark at the same time, Ponting settled at the crease almost immediately. Anything short from the Sri Lankan pacemen he was often pulled away to the boundary, even though he wore a cap throughout, rather than a helmet.

It seemed that a century was on the cards when, with just four runs needed to reach three figures, Chaminda Vaas came bounding in. His delivery hit Ponting on the thigh, suggesting that height was an issue. Nevertheless, the umpire still raised his finger to dismiss Ponting, much to the disappointment of the home supporters.

"I've got mixed emotions about my knock at the moment. 96 is a good score but it would have been nice to get a 100," he said afterwards.

"Once I struck a few in the middle of the bat and I spent some time in the middle I tried to relax and enjoy it, just savour the moment."

Ponting's exit prompted Australia to declare on 617-5 and after going on to bowl Sri Lanka out for a second time – on this occasion for 330 - they secured victory by an innings and 36 runs.

Australia's Ricky Ponting walks off the pitch for the last time on December 3, 2012
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