June 26, 2009

Ashes

The business of after-dinner speeches

Nishi Narayanan

For cricketers while there is the important task of playing the Ashes, there is also the gruelling work of after-dinner speaking which is now big business, writes Simon Wilde in the Times.

The Ponting Foundation is also in action during the Ashes, with a dinner at a swanky restaurant on London's South Bank on July 13, the day after the scheduled finish of the first Test and three days before the second Test at Lord's. "The very Australian Ricky Ponting leads a star-studded dinner," the foundation's website states, and Ponting is clearly confident enough of relations still being amicable with the Poms that he lists seven current England players among the invitees (though perhaps he has invited seven because he's not sure which ones will still be talking to him by then). A platinum table is yours for £2,650.

The Sun's Charlie Wyett interviews Ashes 2005's most unlikely hero Gary Pratt, a substitute fielder who ran out Ricky Ponting in the Trent Bridge Test after which the Australian captain exchanged angry words with then England coach Duncan Fletcher on the use of subs.

"The Aussies were getting annoyed about everything. I came on for a legitimate reason but they were getting even more angry.

"Clearly they were not thinking about the job in hand and, when I ran out Ponting, he totally lost the plot. He walked back to the pavilion and was shouting up at England coach Duncan Fletcher. The thing was, Ponting was playing really well. He could have got 150. Yet his reaction had an effect on the entire Aussie team and, maybe, the 2005 Ashes series. After the final Test at The Oval, though, Ponting was an absolute gent. He gave me a pair of signed boots and a signed picture. He is a fantastic captain and a fantastic cricketer. But it was a great few weeks for English cricket and the players then had a real party."

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Nishi Narayanan is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

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