Ashes Diary: Ponting and the poisoned chalice

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The Independent Online

It's often been said that following Sir Matt Busby at Old Trafford was a poisoned chalice, especially as he still had an office at the ground. The Aussie team have a similar problem – every time they blunder, a great name from the past chirps up with some not necessarily helpful advice. Steve Waugh, in sympathising with Ricky Ponting yesterday, may have made things worse: "You feel under siege, like everyone is coming at you from different angles, and it is hard to get clarity in your mind," the former captain said. "Ricky is probably not quite focused when he goes out to bat. There are a lot of things on his mind, he's probably not thinking with a clear head."

Barmy Army ahead of its time

Well, no wonder he lost his rag. The Aussie captain had seen his side flogged all over the MCG for the best part of two days and the urn had surely slipped away. And then the Barmy Army, never the most sensitive of institutions, serenaded him at the end of the day with a chorus of "You're getting sacked in the morning". Factually inaccurate, Ricky Ponting may have thought to himself, since any sacking will surely wait until the end of the match.

After Liz, would Shane also let the urn slip through his fingers?

Thankfully not all Aussies have lost a sense of humour. Henry Herzog of St Kilda, a Melbourne inner suburb, writing to The Australian, has surely put the Shane Warne recall debate to bed: "On ABC Radio the cricket commentators are still talking about recalling Shane Warne to the side," he wrote. "I wouldn't even consider him for our backyard team after he dropped a catch like Liz Hurley."

Snow hits @theashes. Shame...

Oh no! @theashes – the American woman who tweeted that she was not a "freaking cricket match" after being swamped by Ashes fans during the first Test – may not be able to make it to Sydney on her freebie after all. Bad weather in New England makes it unlikely she'll be able to get to the airport in New York for her flight. A shame, certainly, but given that she's hinted she would be supporting the home side there perhaps it's best that she stays at home, in the freezing cold.