Australia admit Hauritz error
Ricky Ponting and Tim Nielsen, the coach, have admitted they got Australia's XI wrong and should have picked the offspinner Nathan Hauritz for The Oval. The pitch took turn from the opening day, with England's Graeme Swann grabbing a match-high eight wickets, and the tourists' four-man pace attack was unable to control the hosts as they sealed a 2-1 Ashes victory.
"We probably got that wrong, to tell you the truth," Ponting said of leaving out Hauritz. "Not before the game, we thought we were picking the right attack for the conditions that we saw. I don't think anyone in their wildest dreams thought the wicket would play the way it did. If they knew, England would have played their two spinners. In hindsight, a specialist spinner would have been pretty handy out there."
Australia's decision to go with the seam of Stuart Clark left Marcus North, the part-time offspinner, as the main slow-bowling option and he was the most successful in the second innings with 4 for 98. While he performed strongly, North was unable to exert the kind of control Hauritz, who picked up 10 wickets in the opening three Tests, would have managed.
"I must admit I thought it might have spun later in the game," Nielsen said. "But I thought on the first two or three days even though it was dry there were some little green bits of grass, which I thought meant there might have been a bit of moisture underneath keeping that grass alive. I certainly feel as though I misread the wicket in that regard"
Despite problems with the pitch, which deteriorated quickly, Ponting refused to blame the surface for the 197-run defeat or fuel the conspiracy rumours. "I don't know if it was a deliberate ploy, to prepare the wicket that way," Ponting said. "The wicket didn't have a huge effect at the end of the day, both teams batted and bowled on it.
"The difficult thing for me was we batted better when it was really bad than we did when it was okay. We had our chance in the first innings." Australia were knocked over for 160 by Stuart Broad and Swann on Friday before managing a hard-fought 348 in the final innings.
Umpiring was another issue throughout the series, particularly at Lord's, and early in this match Marcus North and Stuart Clark were given out incorrectly. Ponting wouldn't complain about those decisions but was looking forward to the introduction of the video referral system for their next series against West Indies in November.
"It will definitely be a good thing for the game, I've said that before," he said. "Any time you can get more correct decisions in the game then that's what you're after. When you have Test series as close and as evenly-matched as they appear to be, you don't want a decision here and there being the difference in a series - I'm not saying that was the case here."