Galle, Sri Lanka: Until Colin Cowdrey reached the mark in 1968, no cricketer had played 100 Test matches. It is both a measure of Australia's success and the vast expansion of the game's scheduling ever since that Ricky Ponting now stands above all others, the first man to have played in 100 Test victories.
Of all Ponting's achievements, this will sit near the top as a source of satisfaction whenever he ends his career. Personal statistics and their associated glory have never held his attention, but for 16 years, Test match wins have been his fundamental goal. For him to know he has participated in 100 of them will cause the familiar grin to emerge on Ponting's face, the grin that has remained boyish through all the series, tours and fluctuations of his time on the big stage.
Ponting was a boy wonder when he enjoyed his first Test win, on his debut in December 1995. Also against Sri Lanka, it took place on a Perth pitch as far removed from the dustbowl of Galle as it is possible to be. Sri Lanka were bowled out for 251 on the first day, then Muttiah Muralitharan returned figures of 2 for 224 as Mark Taylor's Australia ran up 617 for 5 declared. A little more than a week short of his 21st birthday, Ponting stroked his way to 96 before the umpire, Khizer Hayat, gave him out lbw to a ball that would have passed wide and high of the stumps. Ponting's memory is famously sharp: he would have Hayat's cruelly raised finger to help motivate him for the next decade and a half. When Australia returned to the field that day, Shane Warne placed a consoling hand on Ponting's shoulder.