Why Ponting the sook has given us Poms the edge
Winding up Ricky Ponting threatens to overtake fishing as England’s biggest recreational sport.
From his Gary Pratt blow-up in 2005 to Sunday’s ‘Physiogate’ press conference, us Poms like nothing better than to dress up the beady-eyed Tasmanian as the pantomime villain.
It’s just so much fun to watch – Little Ricky standing there in the playground shouting, “Miss, they stole my Test match…”
I’ll admit, it’s just a petty way to take revenge on a man who has caused all England fans untold misery over the years.
But of greater importance this week is the suggestion that Ponting is already rattled by the prospect of losing two consecutive Ashes series in England.
That might strike you as a remarkable statement from someone whose team was comprehensively outplayed and avoided defeat by the narrowest of margins.
But deep down Ponting knows Australia missed a massive trick in Cardiff.
Remember this: Australia had four tons in one innings, plus an opposition five-down at lunch and seven-down at tea on the final day.
They had more than 10 overs at the final pair, one of whom was Monty Panesar (Test average: 5.5).
Two of those overs were bowled by Marcus North, a part-time off-spinner.
Earlier he over-bowled Mitchell Johnson (who, incidentally, must surely be in contention to become the face of Telstra’s ‘call your mum’ campaign).
Did our chubby physio jogging on to pat Jimmy Anderson’s backside really cost Australia the win?
Or does ‘Punter’ realise he backed the wrong horses in the final straight?
The irony is that Australia actually did well to be in that situation in the first place.
But that’s been lost amid the fallout from their skipper’s post-match rant – and the questions over whether he is the most appropriate man to dish up lectures on the spirit of cricket.
England, on the other hand, were dreadful. There are big question marks over almost every part of their game.
Listening to interviews with the players, however, they appear to have enjoyed the week.
The rearguard action, coupled with all the attention on Ponting, looks to have galvanised the group.
There is an air of optimism that having dodged a bullet in Cardiff, the series is there for the taking.
In that sense, Ponting literally could not have done any more to help England’s preparation.
Perhaps he can join the side on their open-top bus tour through London after the series by way of a thank you.
Of course, this could all be wishful thinking and Australia might cruise to yet another Lords victory on their way to a series win.
But may, just maybe, the wheels are set to come off once again.
If I was in the England camp, I know who I’d suggest for 12th man duties at Lords.
And as for the home crowd, just you watch if Ponting calls for a change of gloves.
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