England v Australia, 4th Test, Trent Bridge August 29, 2005

Ponting continues to rail against England's use of substitutes

Cricinfo staff



Ricky Ponting: 'I've had enough of it' © Getty Images
Less than 36 hours after being fined 75% of his match fee for his outburst following his dismissal in Australia's second innings, Ricky Ponting refuses to let the subject of substitute fielders lie down.

Speaking on a Melbourne radio station, Ponting was in no mood for diplomacy. "I think it is an absolute disgrace the spirit of the game is being treated like that," he said. "[Duncan] Fletcher has known right the way through the summer this is something we haven't been happy with, but it's continued. He knows it's something that has got under our skins and I've had enough of it, and I let him know that, and most of his players too.

"Being here in England they've obviously got the resources to just draft in the best fieldsmen that they possibly can at the time. The way they've been doing it is just before their bowlers are about to bowl they'll send them off for a short amount of time to have a bit of a loosen-up and a massage and that sort of stuff, and come back on and bowl. As soon as they've finished their spell they'll do exactly the same thing. It's within the rules of the game but it's just not within the spirit of the game, which is what we're all trying to uphold."

Ponting was fined 75% of his match fee for his outburst at Trent Bridge, but many consider that he got away quite lightly for a prolonged tirade which included a broadside aim at Fletcher within earshot of spectators.

And Glenn McGrath, who had to sit out the match with an elbow injury, backed his captain. "The only time you should go off during a Test match is obviously if you need to go off for an injury or pop off for a quick toilet break. That's it. Test cricket to us is played by the guys who are in the team. If you are not fit enough or you are looking at ways to keep your players fresh, I think that's not quite in the spirit of the game. As a player myself, I'd keep playing. You would have to drag me off the field."

This is not the first time that the use of substitutes has raised the hackles during an Ashes series. In 1981, Dennis Lillee took to leaving the field after completing his bowling spells to have a shower and change his shirt, leading to complaints from Mike Brearley, England's captain, and a subsequent change to the laws. The end result this time might be similar.