Katich, Ponting after Ashes 'redemption'

SYDNEY: Captain Ricky Ponting and Simon Katich, both seeking different forms of Ashes redemption, were the toast of the Australian media on Friday after batting the Aussies towards a secure position in the first Test against England.

Katich scored his maiden Ashes hundred and Ponting his 38th Test century as the Australians reached second day stumps in Cardiff at 249 for one in reply to England's first innings 435, a deficit of 186.

Katich, dubbed by one pundit as the "Uluru (Ayers Rock) of Australian cricket," tasted the sweetness of Ashes success for the first time in six torrid Tests against England, the Sydney Morning Herald said.

"Katich's painful Ashes history stretches back to 2001 when he made an unsatisfying debut at Headingley and takes in the traumatic campaign of 2005.

"His captain is also seeking to mend the past after presiding over the infamous 2-1 defeat on English soil (in 2005)."

Ponting batted with "a steely glint in his eye" and reminded everyone of his greatness when he joined Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and Allan Border in the exclusive 11,000-run club before going on to raise his 38th Test hundred, the Herald said.

Former Test off-spinner Greg Matthews even went as far as to say that Katich should be leading Australia.

"Katich is the Uluru of Australian cricket, and if I was chairman of selectors I would have him captaining every form of the game because we know that we'd be rock solid," said Matthews, a panellist on SBS TV's Ashes coverage.

"We know the guy, as a custodian of the sport, would take the game forward and leave it in a better place."

The Herald's Peter Roebuck said Ponting gives every indication that he wants to block England's path to regaining the Ashes, which they lost 5-0 in the last 2006-07 series in Australia.

"He knows that Cardiff gives England their best chance to win a match. He knows the pitch is likely to take spin and was chosen as the venue for this contest for that very reason," Roebuck wrote.

"Plainly he intends to block England's path. His patience against spin confirmed his commitment.

"He might not be an outstanding tactician but he is a superb batsman and might take some shifting in this series."

Australian cricket writers were also fascinated by the second day's cameo between unorthodox Australian opener Phillip Hughes and England's all-rounder Andrew Flintoff.

"It was the moment that lit up the match. Andrew Flintoff around the wicket to Phil Hughes," The Australian's Malcolm Conn said.

"Suddenly the electricity of 2005 came flooding back. Big, bad, fired up Freddie (Flintoff) roaring in to an Australian left hander with the crowd in full voice behind him.

"There was no reverse swing yesterday but Flintoff's force of personality, and brute force still managed to stitch up Hughes and it could have been the psychological moment of the tour for the diminutive 20-year-old."