Ponting left fuming again

CARDIFF: Australia captain Ricky Ponting slammed England for a lack of sportsmanship after a controversial conclusion to a drawn first Test here at Sophia Gardens.

Australia were poised to go 1-0 up in the five-Test series before England’s last-wicket duo James Anderson (21 not out) and Monty Panesar (seven not out) held out for the final 40 minutes to salvage an unlikely draw. But twice during the 10th-wicket pair’s 69-ball stand, England 12th man Bilal Shafayat ran onto the field to offer Anderson batting gloves while physio Steve McCaig was eventually ordered off by the umpires after making it to the middle on the second occasion.

During the last Ashes series in Britain in 2005, which England won 2-1, Ponting became incensed at the hosts tactic of bringing on a 12th man just to give their fast bowlers a breather. And he let fly on his way back into the pavilion at then England coach Duncan Fletcher after he was run out by substitute fielder Gary Pratt during Australia’s fourth Test loss even though, on that occasion, fast bowler Simon Jones was off the field with a genuine injury.

Ponting kept his anger in check this time around but made his feelings plain after stumps. “I don’t think it was required. He (Anderson) changed (gloves) the over before,” he said. “I don’t think they’d be too sweaty in one over. I’m not sure what the physio was doing, I didn’t see anyone call for the physio, as far as I’m concerned, it was pretty ordinary really. But they can play whatever way they want to play. We came to play by the rules and the spirit of the game, it’s up to them to do what they want to do.”

“I was unhappy with it,” Ponting, man-of-the-match for his 150 in Australia’s only innings of 674-6 declared, said. “I don’t want to make that big a deal of it. It’s not the reason we didn’t win.”

Ponting also defended his decision to bowl part-time spinner Marcus North in the closing stages, rather than fast bowler Mitchell Johnson on the grounds he wanted to get in as many deliveries as he could at the 10th wicket pair. England, who needed 239 to make Australia bat again, finished on 252-9 at stumps.

Australia were the dominant side for most of this contest. Ponting led from the front in a batting display where further hundreds from North (125 not out), Simon Katich (122) and Brad Haddin (121) saw four Australians score centuries in the same Test innings against England for the first time.