Spirit of 2005 back to haunt Ponting - Cricket - Sport - The Independent

Spirit of 2005 back to haunt Ponting

What a terrible day for the Australian captain, says Peter Roebuck at Lord's

On several occasions at Lord's cricket has kicked Ricky Ponting in the shins whereupon a thunderous aspect has come over him. It is the look of a man howling against the fates.

It is the look of a man let down by his comrades and poorly served by the game. His team's profligate bowling on the opening day took a toll, and the overthrows and byes given away did not exactly lighten his spirit Then came his own contentious dismissal, and the subsequent revelation, brilliantly made by David Lloyd in these pages, that under rule 3.2.3 the third umpire was not merely allowed but obliged to overturn Rudi Koertzen's howler. No wonder Ponting glared as the white coat raised his finger.

Nor did things improve for the Tasmanian on an abysmal second day. Thick cloud had settled over Lord's and the ball swung around. Sporadic rain had the same effect on the pitch as cold water upon a sleeping teenager. Batting was not quite the contemporary cakewalk. It had been a good toss to win. In these circumstances, Australia's captain was entitled to expect his batsmen to batten down the hatches until the storm had passed. Instead, they displayed the sort of abandon described by F Scott Fitzgerald as doom descended on his world. A quintet of Australians lost their wickets to poor hook shots. Two is a surfeit, five an indulgence. By stumps the visitors were in a quagmire.

If Ponting expected better luck in the third instalment he was sorely disappointed. For a start the day dawned bright and cheerful. Batting was going to be relatively easy. Australia's best chance had been dashed. The recipe was simple. Andrew Strauss enforces the follow-on, Australia rally, England chase 180 on the fifth day and fall in a heap. The sun meant the hosts were bound to bat again. And so it proved.

Australia's hope of a dramatic breakthrough lasted as long as Mitchell Johnson's opening over. His ropey spell puts his position in peril. The Queenslander's collapse must have eaten into his leader's soul. To a considerable extent, a captain depends on his bowlers. Ponting is desperate to avoid the ignominy of leading his country on two unsuccessful Ashes missions. It was as unthinkable as an afternoon spent listening to Kylie Minogue.

To that end he relied on his dangerman to disrupt England's batting. Instead he was having to nurse him with no improvement in sight. That the other two pacemen commanded respect was small consolation. Not until a much derided spinner was thrown the ball did wickets start to fall as Alastair Cook again played across a straight ball and Andrew Strauss drove to slip. Hereabouts the Australians were not exactly cock-a-hoop but they had at least caused the hosts to break stride. If only Ravi Bopara and Kevin Pietersen could be swiftly dispatched.

Meanwhile, Ponting had reason to be pleased with himself. His selection of Nathan Hauritz had been justified and his bowling changes had worked. The introduction of the spinner had brought two wickets and his withdrawal had put Pietersen under immediate pressure. Perhaps the world seemed a slightly better place.

It did not last. Pietersen duly played across the deserving Ben Hilfenhaus and all Australia roared. Umpire Billy Doctrove, though, was alert to an inside edge and shook his head. But the batsman's mind was as scrambled as his game and he advanced yards down the pitch in pursuit of some mirage. Predictably, the ball rebounded to Ponting at wide slip. Three stumps to aim at, time on his side and a feared batsman at his mercy. It was a shoo-in for any competent fieldsman, let alone a lynx-eyed hustler from Mowbray, a hard boiled suburb of Launceston. Alas his throw missed. Pietersen regained his ground. It never rains but it pours.

Five balls later even worse befell the visiting captain as Bopara edged a lifter to second slip. It was a sitter. Surprised by the slowness of the opportunity, Ponting kept his fingers upwards and the ball eluded his grasp. One of the best and most versatile fieldsmen ever to play the game had erred twice in two minutes. Cricket plays tricks with the mind. Peter Siddle looked bereft. Ponting went down on his haunches and buried his head in his hands. As a rule, he is not the sort to regret. But this was different. He knew his side were in trouble, he could feel the match slipping away.

Nor was even that the end of his agony. Just before tea, Hauritz claimed a low catch at mid-on as Bopara spooned a pull. To these eyes the ball was cleanly taken.

Standing 10 yards away, Koertzen declined to make a decision. The third umpire allowed England's first drop to continue his innings. For years Ponting has been trying to persuade players to accept a fielder's word.

Who runs our game? England's victorious women cricketers were not able to watch because the MCC had not considered them worthy of a ticket.

Every Ashes series is to some extent a struggle between the captains. Ponting had prevailed in Cardiff only to be taken to task by the grandstanders over mild remarks about time wasting. It was less than he deserved. Haunted by the ghosts of 2005 he was desperately trying to hold his team together. Suddenly his captaincy was under threat. Meanwhile Strauss could sit on his balcony wondering whether to set the Australians 500, or 600.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week