|Full name||Ian Leslie Pont|
28 August 1961 |
Brentwood, Essex, England
|Bowling style||Right-arm fast|
|Relations||KR Pont (brother)
K Pont (brother)
|Domestic team information|
|First-class debut||17 July 1982 Nottinghamshire v Middlesex|
|Last First-class||30 August 1988 Essex v Surrey|
|List A debut||6 September 1981 Nottinghamshire v Gloucestershire|
|Last List A||27 June 1990 Lincolnshire v Gloucestershire|
|Source: CricketArchive, 28 May 2010|
Ian Leslie Pont (born 28 August 1961 in Brentwood, Essex, England) is an English former cricketer. Known for a powerful throw and a brief foray into the world of baseball, Pont mainly played for Essex during his career, as did his brother Keith Pont.
Despite being a good batting coach, Ian Pont is one of the most accomplished fast bowling coaches in the modern era. He has simplified the technical aspects of pace bowling, which are vital for improving accuracy and speed. The skill acquisition drills (known as ABSAT – Advanced Biomechanics Speed & Accuracy Technique) used by Pont have been designed to teach a player how to isolate problems, correct them and then include them into their game – much in the way coaches focus on the technical aspects of batting. The result is an improved and upskilled set of bowlers as was witnessed by Bangladesh's results during Pont's tenure as National Bowling Coach (September 2010 – March 2011).
Early on in his coaching career he chose to specialise in pace bowling and it is his work of coaching speed into bowlers whilst improving accuracy that is hailed a breakthrough for developing long-term bowling attacks. His first book The Fast Bowler's Bible is used by coaches and players at all levels all over the world as a blueprint. His second book Coaching Youth Cricket is recommended reading by the ECB. His latest publication Ultimate Pace Secrets reveals how speed is generated.
He also holds the current and updated new UKCC Level III Head Coach Award.
In 2011 he signed a contract to coach the Ranji Team, Haryana in India on a part-time basis.
In 2012 he was appointed Head Coach of the Dhaka Gladiators, for the inaugural Bangladesh Premier League (BPL). His motivational and open style led the team to tournament victory at the first attempt. And he remained the Head Coach of Dhaka Gladiators in the 2nd edition of BPL held in 2013, which the team went on to win, giving the franchise back-to-back titles.
During his own career Pont was an aggressive batting all-rounder. As a schoolboy he excelled with the bat, setting records and scoring a prolific amount of runs at school, county and club level. His batting total runs record of 858 at an average of more than 63, set in 1979, remained unbroken for almost 30 years at Brentwood School, where he played 91 consecutive matches for the school 1st XI, a record unlikely to be surpassed. He was selected for two tours with the England Dragons to India in 1978 and Australia in 1979. He represented the National Association of Young Cricketers at Lord's in 1979 as a number 3 batter and went to the World Cup in Canada with England in 1979, which became the forerunner of the current ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup. He was viewed primarily as a batsman who could bowl useful swing but Pont developed himself into a fierce pace bowler who could bat.
Pont made his senior cricket debut in September 1981, playing for Nottinghamshire against Gloucestershire and then Glamorgan. a few days later. He made his first-class debut the following year against Middlesex at Lord's. He played three Benson & Hedges Cup matches for the Minor Counties in 1983, whilst playing for Buckinghamshire. He opened the bowling for the Minor Counties against India in 1983 as part of the World Cup warm up. The Minor Counties were the only team to beat India at that time, who went on to famously win the World Cup that year. He returned to first-class cricket in July 1985, this time for his native Essex.
It was during the 1985 season Pont made a big and exciting impression with his aggressive quick bowling, grabbing 19 wickets late in the season at just 25 average. The Daily Telegraph commented on one match: "he returned after tea looking really quick. He has a Graham Dilley style action and Essex appear to have a find". On Debut against Somerset, he took 5 wickets including the prized scalps of Viv Richards with a slower ball and bouncing out Ian Botham. He also destroyed Warwickshire at Edgbaston with 4–15 in just 35 balls. He formed a youthful and potentially devastating partnership with England bowler Neil Foster and it appeared Essex had a genuine pace attack. Ironically, it was Foster's illness on the morning of the September Nat West Final at Lord's that allowed Pont to play against his former county Notts in what turned out to be one of the most exciting one-day finals in history. Essex went on to beat Notts by just one run, with Pont playing his part by knocking out the leg stump of his hero and mentor, Richard Hadlee. Earlier it had been Pont's fierce, accurate throw from the boundary that set up the win, by running out a hapless lunge by Chris Broad to make his ground. Essex also won the Sunday League making his a double medal-winning start.
He continued playing for Essex over the following three years, also fitting in a spell playing for Natal in South Africa in 1985/1986. A string of run out batsmen were testimony to his amazing throwing arm. Whilst in South Africa, he recorded the second longest throw of a cricket ball of all time, throwing 138 yards in Cape Town. He played a few first-class matches for Essex in 1986, but 1987 started out very differently indeed.
In 1987, Pont had trials with six Major League Baseball clubs as a pitcher including New York Yankees, Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians and Los Angeles Dodgers. Recording speeds of around 100 mph, he gained a one months extended trial with the Philadelphia Phillies. At spring training, he was a starting pitcher for the Phillies in one exhibition game, becoming the first, modern-day professional cricketer to play in a professional baseball game.
He maintained an interest in the game in the UK playing for national champions Enfield Spartans in the British Baseball Federation (BBF) League, and was selected to play for Great Britain as part of the nation's attempted qualification for the Olympics. He was unable to attend due to cricket commitments but did spend one winter in Durban, South Africa and one in Campbelltown, Australia playing local Major League baseball alongside his cricket career.
Aside from cricket and baseball, Pont briefly joined Thurrock Athletics Club where he took up the javelin and had basic lessons in technique. It became apparent he had an aptitude and within just six weeks he had thrown the then Olympic qualifying standard of 72m. British Olympic Javelin Coach, Margaret Whitbread, mother of Olympic Gold medallist Fatima, saw Pont throw and commented, "he has the most natural throwing arm this side of the Iron Curtain". Due to Pont's contract with cricket he never pursued the javelin when many felt he was destined to become a rival to Great Britain star, Steve Backley.
Back on the cricket field one of his best first-class batting performances came against New Zealand at Chelmsford in 1986 when Pont compiled a well-crafted 43 against the tourists, adding 91 for the 9th wicket. He also hit a rapid-fire 68 against a Cambridge University side that boasted a young, fresh-faced Michael Atherton. In County 2nd XI cricket though Pont was more than a handful. He destroyed Notts by taking 9–51 at Southend and Gloucestershire at Chelmsford with 6–15 including a hat trick. At club level, he hit many batsmen with ferocious bouncers and was widely feared around the local club scene. In a long and successful club career, his very best bowling performance was 9–18, including 5 wickets in a single over against Hadleigh for his club Witham. All together, he took 9 wickets on three occasions, and scored 45 centuries.
Strangely, Pont's first-class playing career was stop start. Appearing in the team on batting pitches and being overlooked on bowling ones, he never really found the opportunities to cement a regular place in the team. And despite having one of the best strike rates at Essex and being looked at in 1988 by the England selectors in a couple of matches, Pont became disillusioned with County Cricket. Gloucestershire flirted with the idea of signing Pont to bolster their pace attack of Courtney Walsh and David 'Syd" Lawrence. However in the end Pont retired from first-class cricket halfway through a 2-year contract with Essex, aged just 27. Despite earning winners medals for three of the four domestic competitions (Nat West Trophy, National Sunday League and County Championship), he never really fulfilled his potential and left the game to take up a sales position with a computer stationery company.
He returned to minor counties cricket, playing for Northumberland in 1989 and Lincolnshire in 1990 and 1991. He played List A cricket for both teams. He took a devastating 6–9 in 10 overs in the Minor Counties Holt Cup one day competition, and played in the One Day Minor Counties Final at Lord's for Lincolnshire against his former county, Buckinghamshire in 1990.
After retiring from all active cricket in 1990, he concentrated on his business interests, developing a reputation as a marketeer and salesman. As a partner in the clothing company Hogger Sports, he was a leader in coloured clothing, supplying the replica kit in the 1992 Cricket World Cup, and securing the contract to supply all 18 counties in the AXA Equity Law League in England in 1993, the first time cricket was played in coloured clothing in the UK.
Pont was one of the first broadcasters on Brentwood radio station Phoenix FM where he presented a regular chat show from January 1997. He then moved on to BBC Essex radio as summariser. The station sent him for BBC radio training where he learned to present, produce a programme and interview. Pont was offered his own radio programme "Ian Pont's Sporting Sunday" that ran for two years and followed Essex cricket. He also anchored in the studio, hosting the sports programme for coverage of local football of Southend United and Colchester United.
In 1995 he started the Mavericks Cricket Institute, to help develop cricketers of all ages and abilities. Ironically though it was Essex captain Ronnie Irani who employed Pont as a personal bowling coach. Irani and Pont worked together for 18 months with Irani adding almost 12 mph to his military medium speed. Irani was recalled to the England side and the 2003 World Cup in South Africa, where Pont attended the England Training camp in Port Elizabeth with the approval of captain Nasser Hussain and coach Duncan Fletcher.
He is now an international coach, working with players in the UK and overseas on pace and accuracy. Much of his work is spent developing existing and future talent and he is viewed as a pioneer in his field, unafraid to remodel and uncomplicate an action to maximise its potential.
Pont is also an author. His first book, The Fast Bowler's Bible, was published in 2006 by The Crowood Press and is on its fourth reprint. Pont has recently been ECB National and Regional Skills Set Coach and the fast bowling coach of his former club Essex. and was the Assistant Head Coach and National Bowling Coach of the Netherlands for two years up until the 2007 World Cup, when he was lost in the reshuffle of staff when the head coach was changed after that tournament. Pont was recently working as a technical fast bowling consultant to Northamptonshire County Cricket Club and was Head Coach of the International Cricket Camp based in Potchefstroom, South Africa that runs every December, which he set up with North West Cricket. Gary Kirsten and Corrie van Zyl (later to become Head Coaches of India and South Africa respectively) worked with Pont, as did South African batting guru, Jimmy Cook.
Pont is the creator of the "Duraband" – Complete Cricket Trainer, a strength & conditioning resistance band product for developing muscle memory in cricketers and recommended by the ECB coaches association and featured in their magazine.
His second book Coaching Youth Cricket was published by Human Kinetics in June 2010. The book is recommended reading for Level 1 and Level 2 qualified coaches and is also endorsed by the ECB Coaches Association.
He was appointed as Bangladesh national cricket team's bowling coach in September 2010 until the World Cup 2011 being held in the subcontinent. In his first series, dramatically improved and controlled bowling performances helped see the team "Tiger Wash" New Zealand 4–0 in the October 2010 Micromax ODI Series. This is the first time Bangladesh has had a series win over a full-strength, Test-playing nation in its 24-year history and subsequently rose to 8th place in the ODI rankings, above West Indies and into the elite top group of teams. Whilst there he worked with the fielding coach Julien Fountain to create a slower ball for the 2011 World Cup, known as the Projapoti in Bengali or Butterfly. Pont's prowess as a fielder has also been recently recognised. He was named by former England captain Nasser Hussain in the world's best fielding eleven of all time alongside Jack Russell, Ricky Ponting, Mark Waugh, Jacques Kallis, Jonty Rhodes, AB de Villiers, Herschelle Gibbs, Paul Collingwood, James Anderson and David Boon. Pont featured as "Boundary Rider" and according to Hussain: "Of all the players I played with Pont had the best arm".
In his second series with Bangladesh they wrapped up a comprehensive series win 3–1 against Zimbabwe. This win, along with the New Zealand series win, has turned around the worst run of results (27 ODI losses out of 29 matches) and turned it into 7 ODI wins out of 8 – the second best performance of any Test country in 2010.
During the 2011 ICC World Cup, Bangladesh won three of their group matches against Netherlands, Ireland and England and lost to India, West Indies and South Africa to finish level on six points with the West Indies. However, inferior run rates due to two appalling batting performances for 58 (West Indies) and 78 (South Africa), meant the West Indies went through to the Quarter Finals. Not a single no ball was bowled by Bangladesh at the World Cup.
Despite an overall record of 10 wins from 14 ODI's, Pont decided not to renew his contract with Bangladesh Cricket. He returned home in April to coach at his Mavericks Cricket Institute (MCI).
Pont has recently worked with Ranji Trophy team Haryana Cricket Association. Haryana Cricket Poised For Quantum Leap. The focus of Pont's international development work will be in India on a part-time basis between projects.
One of Pont's wards, fast bowler Harshal Patel, had a brilliant first season in the 2011/12 Ranji Trophy. Harshal Patel has since gone on to gain a contract in the Indian Premier League. Another, Mohit Sharma has made a tremendous start to the 2012/13 Ranji season and appears to be a great prospect for the future. He has featured recently in the IPL for the Chennai Super Kings (2013) and continues to improve rapidly in the eyes of many experts.
Pont was briefly one of the leading contenders for the Pakistan Bowling Coach vacancy in 2012.
Following the announcement of the inaugural Bangladesh Premier League (BPL), Pont was approached by the Europa Group, franchise holders of the Dhaka Gladiators, and was named as Head Coach. Dhaka Gladiators became BPL 2012 Champions defeating Barisal Burners in a one-sided final. During the competition, the Dhaka Gladiators gave starts to every squad member and retained faith in the local talent as well as using the International overseas stars of Azhar Mahmood, Imran Nazir, Kieron Pollard, Rana Naved, Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal.
Pont returned to defend the BPL title with Dhaka in 2013 and achieved back-to-back championships for the franchise with players like Chris Gayle. Owais Shah, Luke Wright, Shakib Al Hasan, Alfonso Thomas and Tillerkeratne Dilshan.
- "Cricket Archive profile". Retrieved 2007-07-18.
- "Biography at official site". Retrieved 2007-07-18.
- List A matches played by Ian Pont at Cricket Archive
- First-class matches played by Ian Pont at Cricket Archive
- Teams played for by Ian Pont at Cricket Archive
- "Cricinfo profile". Retrieved 2007-07-18.
- Pont the next to go by Rod Lyall, 11 April 2007 at CricketEurope