IT WAS the day a legend returned to his home patch.
With just 11 to his name after 87 minutes in the middle, Ricky Ponting's Mowbray comeback did not deliver much in the way of runs, but it was an outing that can be measured in more ways than on the scoreboard.
The drawcard that is Australia's greatest run-scorer attracted a crowd of more than 1000 to Invermay Park yesterday, numbers that NTCA officials usually only achieve in their dreams.
Ponting admitted to struggling for sleep on Friday night in the lead-up to the match, with nerves getting the better of the man known for his steely resolve.
But you would not have been able to tell from his entrance to the arena, which came at the fall of the Eagles' second wicket.
There was his trademark of rushing to the crease, the shadow batting and the "gardening" on the pitch, as he had done countless times during his international career.
On a wicket that could politely be described as difficult, he started with another trademark, the wide leave outside off-stump.
There were hints of the man who scored 13,378 Test and 13,704 one-day runs, most particularly the pull- shot that saw him go from one to five just before lunch.
But there were times of unease, when medium-pacers Ryan Lees and Rowan Smith had him pulling his hand away from his bat following miscued pull shots.
He was also given a life off the bowling of Lees, when a slashing cut shot did not stick to the man at point.
That was the only life the cricket gods afforded him.
For Ponting, it was a day that reflected why he loves the game so much.
"This is what cricket is all about for me, and it always has been," Ponting said.
"It's about young people coming out and having fun in the sun during summer.
"Whatever I can do, I'll keep promoting cricket the best way that I can.
"The way I've played the game throughout my career, it's always been about promoting the game the best I can, and wanting to make young kids aspire to play for Mowbray, or for Tasmania, or for Australia.
"A turnout like today will hold this club and Tasmanian cricket in good stead."
Ponting keen to return: Back page