Ponting shows his class as tourists give England Ashes wake-up call

England 223-8 Australia 224-3, Australia win by seven wickets

The result makes tomorrow's last NatWest Challenge match at The Oval another final, and the winner will have claimed the last psychological blow before the real cricket starts - the Ashes.

Ponting, who posted his 18th one-day hundred when he guided Stephen Harmison to third man for four, was superb, but he was helped by a lacklustre performance from England. Their fielding was shoddy and the bowlers seldom threatened Australia as they chased England's total.

The batting of Andrew Flintoff, who scored 87, delighted the England supporters but the largest cheer came when a Lancaster bomber, a Spitfire and a Hurricane flew over on their way back from a flypast in the centre of London.

Ponting has been in disappointing form since arriving in England but his record demonstrates his class. And, after watching Adam Gilchrist fall for a breezy 29, he showed this to the 30,000 spectators. Flintoff was nonchalantly clipped into the Grandstand for six and the majority of his 111 runs were accumulated through the leg-side.

The Australian captain fell with his side only eight runs away from their target but his innings gave England plenty to think about. Ponting was not the only Aussie to shine. Brett Lee confirmed what a threat he will be during the Test series, with figures of 5 for 41, and Michael Kasprowicz showed that he is perfectly capable of filling in for the out-of-form Jason Gillespie.

After a minute's silence for the victims of last week's bombings in London, Marcus Trescothick and Andrew Strauss gave England a sound start. On a muggy morning, and on a pitch with a green tinge to it, the left-handed pair were watchful against the pace and swing of Lee and McGrath.

Yet it was the introduction of Kasprowicz that changed the course of England's innings. The Queenslander replaced the injured Shane Watson and struck with his first delivery. Strauss has edged the ball on to his stumps on two occasions against Australia, and this combination again led to his downfall.

Before each Test series McGrath publicly states which members of the opposition he will target. Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara have been on his hit list, and before this tour he identified Strauss and Vaughan as the batsmen in his sights.

The England captain won this tussle at Headingley last Thursday, when he scored a blistering 59, but in the two games at Lord's - the venue of the first Test - McGrath has dismissed him cheaply. Yesterday he was adjudged leg before when he left a nip-backer from the fast bowler. Trescothick fell in the next over, edging Kasprowicz to Gilchrist, and England had lost three for three in 17 balls.

With the selectors meeting to pick their Test squad on Wednesday, Kevin Pietersen now had the ideal stage on which to show his credentials. The Hampshire batsman has had limited opportunities to push his cause since a match-winning performance at Bristol three weeks ago, and during the early part of his innings he looked determined to make this one count.

Pietersen left McGrath well and clipped Kasprowicz beautifully through mid-wicket for four. But on 15, and after failing to score off five consecutive deliveries from Lee, the desire to dominate became too great and he was bowled attempting an ambitious drive, leaving England on 45 for 4. The 24 year-old has one more chance to impress, at The Oval tomorrow, but his position is not as impregnable as it once was.

Flintoff has been superb with the ball all summer but before this innings he had struggled with the bat. The loss of form is largely due to a lack of opportunity - Flintoff failed to bat in England's two Test wins over Bangladesh - but his desire not to be seen competing with Pietersen will not have helped. But with Pietersen gone, and England in trouble, the Lancastrian showed his maturity and knuckled down. Paul Collingwood, as ever, gave solid support and the pair added 103 in 135 balls. They showed respect to all the Australian bowlers, apart from Gillespie.

England's batsmen have been chipping away at the confidence of the fast bowler since the Twenty20 match at the Rose Bowl and again he was targeted. Flintoff pulled Gillespie for two fours in his opening over and this forced Ponting to move him to the Nursery End.

But the change of ends altered nothing. Gillespie was clouted for two more boundaries before Flintoff pulled him into the hospitality boxes in the Grandstand for a huge six.

The return of Lee ended England's fun. He found the outside edge of Collingwood's bat and had Flintoff caught on the cover point boundary. The 28-year-old's fifth wicket came off the final delivery of his spell, when Ponting dived to his right at extra cover to take a brilliant one-handed catch.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Tepper had a stunningly successful career as a songwriter
Arts and Entertainment
Len Blavatnik

Today in the Premier League, Everton face Manchester United, and Arsenal take on Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium. A victory for Jose Mourinho's side, and they could win the Premier League title as soon as Wednesday with a win over Leicester.

Arts and Entertainment
The original field in High Wycombe, which is used as the banner image on a number of websites belonging to local Tory associations
general election
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions