England v Australia, 3rd Test, Old Trafford August 14, 2005

Australia deny suggestions of Warne-Ponting rift

Cricinfo staff

Warne and Ponting: not on best of terms © Getty Images

The Australian camp have laughed off suggestions, from an English tabloid, of a rift between Ricky Ponting and Shane Warne during the second Test at Edgbaston.

According to a report in The Mail on Sunday, Warne and Ponting were involved in a stand-up row at Edgbaston, and had to separated by the vice-captain, Adam Gilchrist. However, both Gilchrist and Glenn McGrath denied any sort of rift and termed the story a "fabrication" and a "blatant lie".

Gilchrist said the mood in the team was "pretty good". "We're under siege a little bit," he said in the Sydney Morning Herald. "The crowd are all over us and the press have started again and there's something in today's papers that is an absolute fabrication and totally made up. I don't know where people make up these lies but we know that's the way this machine operates."

"I think it's quite funny," said McGrath while speaking to the press after the fourth-day's play. "I've been around the changing rooms the whole time and I haven't heard or seen anything like that. It's disappointing that it's in the papers when it never happened."

McGrath has a column with the Mail on Sunday and said he was "keen to have a chat" with the writer of the story, Peter Hayter. "The biggest disappointing thing is that it's not the first time something's been in the papers over here that actually didn't happen ... It's a blatant lie."

The row, which the London-based paper said took place in the dressing-room and could be overheard by the England team next door, stemmed directly from Ponting's decision to bowl first in that match. In Glenn McGrath's last-minute absence, Warne was his side's most likely matchwinner and would therefore have benefited from last use of a turning track.

He went on to take ten wickets, including a magnificent 6 for 46 in the second innings, but at the close of play on the penultimate day, he gave an indication of his sour mood at the end-of-day press conference. "To take 10 wickets in the match doesn't mean anything if you lose," he told reporters. "I don't like using the word hate, but I hate losing."

Warne's mood had not improved over the weekend, added the paper, and he was also alleged to have sworn at autograph hunters in the team hotel. And things got significantly worse for him on the fourth day at Old Trafford, where he missed out a maiden Test century, allowed a catch to pass straight between himself and Ponting in the slip cordon, and then watched Gilchrist miss two stumpings off his bowling.