Ponting asks England to show some sympathy

Australians play down Gillespie's terror fears
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The Independent Online

Opening batsman Justin Langer felt the England players were out of order in their lack of visible concern after captain Ricky Ponting had been struck in the face while batting on the opening morning at Lord's and has been on record in criticising their apparent lack of courtesy.

"When Ricky got cut under an eye, I spoke to some of the England players during the drinks break and said 'this isn't a war, this is a game'," Langer admitted afterwards.

Ponting yesterday seemed unsure whether to castigate Langer for showing weakness in the face of aggression or to agree with him. In the end, he did both but gave a clear message that he saw England's behaviour at Lord's as outside the spirit of the game.

"I was a bit disappointed to read that Justin had said what he did," Ponting said. "It was the first morning of the game after a build-up lasting 12 months so the cricket was very intense. I didn't expect any sympathy because as far as I am concerned incidents like that are just part of the game.

"But from a personal point of view, I would always ask a player how he was after an incident like that. While we were in New Zealand, Brett Lee hit one of their guys quite badly and I was the first to go up to him and ask if he was okay"

Ponting confirmed that Australia will field an unchanged line-up when play begins at Edgbaston today, Jason Gillespie's improved performance in last weekend's three-day match at Worcester having secured his place ahead of Michael Kasprowicz, despite the latter claiming five second-innings wickets.

Not surprisingly, Glenn McGrath is central to Ponting's tactics towards Michael Vaughan. "I've never seen anyone bat as well against us as he did in Australia," Ponting said, "but he's not been able to reproduce that form against us this summer and it is up to us to make sure he doesn't get the opportunity. I don't think Vaughan is as comfortable facing Glenn as he is some other bowlers and I'd think once he comes out to bat it will not be long before Glenn is bowling."

Kevin Pietersen is another England player the Australians show particular respect, and Ponting remarked: "The first Test has forced us to have a bit more of a think about the way we are going to bowl to him. The plans we had for him at Lord's did not work but all our bowlers are pretty clear about what we are going to do this time."

Ricky Ponting yesterday played down any fears Australia might have over security in the wake of the London bombings, in spite of comments from Jason Gillespie that suggested the tour might be abandoned if there were further explosions.

"We had a few meetings about the issue early in the tour in London," he said. "At the time of the explosions, the transport systems were the biggest issue for a lot of us, particularly because a lot of the players had families and so forth with them.

"But we were being briefed on a daily basis and as far as the team is concerned, it is an area in which we will be guided by the experts."

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