Ponting issues public apology
Australia captain Ricky Ponting made a public apology for his heated outburst in the fourth npower Ashes Test at Trent Bridge after being run out in sensational fashion by substitute fielder Gary Pratt.
Ponting was aggrieved to be run out by Pratt as Australia, following on for the first time since England last held the Ashes, closed the third day on 222 for four, still 37 runs in arrears.
The Australians have been concerned by England’s regular employment of the 12th man throughout the entire tour and Ponting expressed his displeasure to Michael Vaughan’s team as they huddled in celebration.
He then appeared to say something to coach Duncan Fletcher on the home balcony as he departed for 48 after television replays confirmed his dismissal from a direct hit by one of domestic cricket’s best fielders.
After his double rant, however, Ponting said: “I am very disappointed with my dismissal given that it was at a crucial stage of the game and I had worked really hard to get to that position.
“I no doubt let myself down with my reaction and for that I apologise to those that view me as a role model.
“My frustration at getting out was combined with the disappointment of being run out by a substitute fieldsman - an issue which has concerned us from the start of the summer and one we raised prior to this series.”
Fletcher claimed he could not hear what Ponting had to say due to ’the crowd going ballistic at that stage’.
But he defended England’s policy of allowing their bowling attack - which had knocked Australia over for 218 thanks to Simon Jones’ 5-44 - to rehydrate while replacing them with young, agile replacements.
“We try to get someone who is not playing first-class cricket, usually from a county who are having a rest,” said Fletcher. “We have had Gary around as 12th man on numerous occasions.
“In the modern game you have to take on a lot of fluids; at some stage you have to come off to relieve yourself of those fluids.”
Australia’s initial concerns developed during the one-day encounters which preceded this five-match campaign.
However, match referee Ranjan Madugalle does not appear to have been overly concerned by the hosts’ behaviour.
“It was brought up during the one-day series but nothing was said by the match referee,” Fletcher said. “We just leave it to the referee and the umpires.”
England did not possess the same penetration second time around with Welsh pace bowler Jones - whom Pratt replaced - sent to hospital for checks on his injured right ankle which has yet to be fully diagnosed.
Opener Justin Langer struck a half-century during the Aussie defiance, sharing a 79-run stand with Ponting, before gloving a catch off left-arm spinner Ashley Giles.
Langer explained the frustration when he added: “In cricket there are great traditions, particularly in Test cricket.
“As long as I have played the game the 12th man is usually one of the bowlers.
“But Englishmen are much more intelligent than Australians - you only have to look at the Barmy Army - and therefore it’s no surprise they have come up with this before us.
“Perhaps in this day of professionalism it is just the best way of getting the best out of the resources available - everyone is looking to find the edge.”
Australia’s players also reflected on their defeat in Calcutta in 2001, when India followed on and still won, in the dressing room at the close of play.
“While we are still out there we still have a fighting chance,” said Langer. “We are hanging in there by the skin of our teeth.
“But the two young guys Simon Katich and Michael Clarke showed us the way in the final hour and Adam Gilchrist is in next.
“Everyone who knows cricket will be aware that he is a man who can change the course of a game inside one session.”