History repeats itself for Ponting
Australia captain Ricky Ponting was struggling to come to terms with losing the Ashes at the Brit Oval for the second time in four years.
England ensured the urn would return to these shores after wrapping up a 197-run victory with a day to spare in the final Test, securing a 2-1 series triumph.
For Ponting, it represented a second successive Ashes defeat on English soil, his having overseen Australia’s defeat in the memorable 2005 series.
“It’s probably fair to say I’ve had a few disappointing times here,” he said. It’s probably not my favourite ground in the world.”
Invited to compare which of the two experiences felt the worst, he said: “I’m equally disappointed. It’s a long time ago. I don’t remember exactly how I felt that night. But I know now, it’s hard to swallow.
“I don’t think you can get any more disappointed that I am right now. For me, the leader, the captain, the most experienced player, it’s difficult to accept.
“But we couldn’t have done anything else - we have given ourselves the best opportunity. It’s just a couple of really bad sessions during the course of five Tests which have cost us the series.”
Ponting looked back to key moments, such as failing to dismiss tailenders James Anderson and Monty Panesar as Australia were denied the wicket they needed for victory in the first Test at Cardiff.
He said: “It was one that we let slip. It would have been great to have won that game after playing as well as we did but we weren't good enough to get over the line.
“England have won some really crucial moments in this series. If you look at the (series) stats they don’t make sense this time, but when we’ve had a bad session we’ve had a very bad session.”
Ponting refused to blame a wicket he nonetheless described as “poor” for Australia’s defeat, because both teams had to bat on it twice.
Asked how come his team have lost when many of their key statistics - number of individual hundreds and wickets - are so superior, Ponting could only point to inconsistency.
“When both teams played well they were very good; when they played badly they were very, very bad,” he said.
“When we’ve lost a session, it was like the one the other day; we lose eight wickets and blow ourselves out of the water - and all the pressure is back on us.”
If there was a consolation for Ponting, it was that after a summer of unseemly booing the home crowd finally showed their appreciation in what could turn out to be his final Test against England in this country.
“’Freddie’ (Andrew Flintoff) said when I went out he thought I’d hired a PR company for this week to get a few supporters on my side,” he said. “It was nice to get an ovation. I might have won a few over.”
Ponting conceded Australia’s decision not to include a specialist spinner in their team proved to be a mistake.
He added: “In hindsight, no, but I don’t think anybody saw that happening. I think England would have played two spinners if they had.”
Australia vice-captain Michael Clarke was named man of the series for his team, but admitted he would rather have been part of the winning team.
“I’d give it back for a different result today,” he said. “Full credit has to go to England - I thought they played really well throughout the series. They outplayed us today.
“I’d like to congratulate Fred on a fantastic Test career and hopefully we’ll be playing one-day cricket sooner rather than later.”
The run-outs of Ponting and Clarke this afternoon proved crucial in the final reckoning and sparked the tourists’ demise.
“It probably topped the series off, I guess, both Ricky and me getting run out,” he said. “We’re both pretty disappointed.
“It’s the greatest learning curve about this game - as soon as you feel you’re doing okay it gets up and smacks you on the backside. That’s the game.”