Ponting fury as England pull off the great escape

Australia captain condemns time-wasting as home side hold out for dramatic draw

England's valiant draw in the opening Ashes Test was embroiled in controversy last night. After securing a highly unlikely result which leaves the series level with four to play, Andrew Strauss's side were virtually charged with abusing the spirit of the game by Australia's captain, Ricky Ponting.

With time running out and England's last-wicket pair of James Anderson and Monty Panesar at the crease and England barely ahead of Australia, the 12th man, Bilal Shafayat, and their temporary physiotherapist, Steve McCaig, were dispatched from the dressing room with drinks, spare gloves and towels in case the batsmen needed a rub down.

If it was understandable in the heat of the moment, it was also unsavoury, almost betraying the wonderfully gritty 74 from 245 balls by Paul Collingwood that had enable them to be in such a position. As it happened, Anderson turned his back on them and continued his vigil at the creased with Panesar.

But Ponting said afterwards: "I thought it was pretty ordinary to be honest. They can play whatever they want to play. We have come to play by the rules and the spirit of the game but it is up to them to play how they want to do."

The delaying tactics were not quite the difference between a sapping defeat and a draw for England, and indeed they might have disturbed the batsmen's concentration at a crucial moment. But that, as Ponting seemed to indicate, was not the point.

There will be many other moments in this series when the players are not enamoured of each other's approach and England will have to watch it. Having been outplayed for most of the five days in Cardiff they knew how lucky they were to escape with a draw. Australia needed only one wicket in the last 11.3 overs of the match to win.

Collingwood had finally been out, steering to gully, but then Anderson and Panesar, without undue alarm, resisted Australia's finest. By the close England were just 13 runs ahead on 252 for 9 but time had run out for Australia.

Collingwood, the gritty Durham player, whose place always seem to be under pressure, said: "We can take a ot of confidence out of this game. We showed great character and heart, there is a lot of passion in that dressing room so we can take a lot from this."

He seemed to be remonstrating with himself for getting out. "I knew what I had to do in that situation and that was to bat for three sessions," he said. "It is a difficult thing to do and in the end I probably gave my wicket away which was disappointing.

"In the end it was close, closer than we would have hoped for and at one point we looked dead, but the boys at the end did well. There are some happy people in that dressing room now. Realistically though we know we have to improve for Thursday."

He could have said the last sentence again but his captain Strauss said it for him. "It was pretty frantic in the dressing room, we were trying to work out the timings. We were lucky to get out of it. We need to play better."

Strauss paid due tribute to Collingwood. "All day we were not quite in the contest," he said. "We lost wickets early on but all credit must go to Paul Collingwood – he was outstanding. He does it time and time again for us in pressure situations. I can't say enough good things about him.

"But we also have to mention Jimmy and Monty. The batsmen shouldn't have let them get in that position, but they showed a lot of character. They kept their heads and in a pressure situation that is hard to do.

"We are proud of them and we are proud to get a draw but we are also aware that we have a lot of work to do between now and the second Test," Strauss added.

"Thankfully we got away with it and hopefully we can come out and do better at Lord's."

England announce their team today for the Lord's Test which begins on Thursday. They have tough decisions to make – and one of them will be to drop Panesar whose bowling was disappointing. They will never talk of dropping Collingwood again.

Continued from Page One

lot of confidence out of this game. We showed great character and heart, there is a lot of passion in that dressing room so we can take a lot from this."

He seemed to be remonstrating with himself for getting out. "I knew what I had to do in that situation and that was to bat for three sessions," he said. "It is a difficult thing to do and in the end I probably gave my wicket away which was disappointing.

"In the end it was close, closer than

we would have hoped for and at one point we looked dead, but the boys at the end did well. There are some happy people in that dressing room now. Realistically though we know we have to improve for Thursday."

He could have said the last sentence again but his captain Strauss said it for him. "It was pretty frantic in the dressing room, we were trying to work out the timings. We were lucky to get out of it. We need to play better."

Strauss paid due tribute to Collingwood. "All day we were not quite in the contest," he said. "We lost wickets early on but all credit must go to Paul Collingwood – he was outstanding. He does it time and time again for us in pressure situations. I can't say enough good things about him.

"But we also have to mention Jimmy and Monty. The batsmen shouldn't have let them get in that position, but they showed a lot of character. They kept their heads and in a pressure situation that is hard to do.

"We are proud of them and we are proud to get a draw but we are also aware that we have a lot of work to do between now and the second Test," Strauss added.

"Thankfully we got away with it and hopefully we can come out and do better at Lord's."

England announce their team today for the Lord's Test which begins on Thursday. They have tough decisions to make – and one of them will be to drop Panesar whose bowling was disappointing. They will never talk of dropping Collingwood again.

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