England v Australia, 2nd Test, Lord's July 15, 2009

Ponting hits back at 'hypocrite' Fletcher


Ricky Ponting has labelled Duncan Fletcher a "hypocrite" after the former England coach's comments that Australia had no right to claim the moral high ground on Spirit of Cricket issues. While Ponting maintained he had not complained excessively about the hosts' "ordinary" time-wasting late on the final day in the drawn Cardiff Test, Andy Flower, the current England mentor, said the captain "made a meal" of the incident.

As England's last two batsmen held on they sent on the 12th man Bilal Shafayat and the physiotherapist Steve McCaig to prevent the visitors from delivering more overs. "[Fletcher] is sort of saying he didn't condone what they did the other day," Ponting said. "It seemed a little bit hypocritical, some of the stuff he had to say."

Fletcher wrote in the Guardian about Ponting putting pressure on the umpires at Sophia Gardens and their sledging. "If any side in the world doesn't play within the spirit of the game it's Ponting's Australians, yet here he is sitting in judgment on England because he's frustrated that his bowlers failed to complete the job," he said. "Ponting getting frustrated - does that remind you of anything?"

Ponting yelled at Fletcher on his way to the dressing room after he was run-out by Gary Pratt, the substitute fielder, at Trent Bridge in 2005. "We are good mates, Duncan and I," Ponting said wryly at Lord's. "I'm not one little bit worried at all about what Duncan has had to say. He is an irrelevant person in my world and probably in the cricketing world right at the moment."

The chapter adds more tension before Thursday's second Test at Lord's, but don't expect any reduction in the number or intensity of exchanges between players. On the final day in Cardiff Kevin Pietersen and Mitchell Johnson argued during the warm-ups and Stuart Broad and Peter Siddle bumped shoulders in the middle before the emotional finish. Siddle also hit Graeme Swann with a series of painful short balls, but Swann responded with an incredibly valuable 31.

"It is not an Ashes series without a few of those [incidents]," England's captain Andrew Strauss said. "As pressure builds, that strains people and once they are put under pressure they react in a number of different ways. One thing which I think is important is that the series continues to be played in a good manner and I certainly think on those first five days, it was played in that manner."

The Australians are often accused of pushing - or breaking - the rules but maintain they adhere to the over-riding Spirit of Cricket and their own stricter code. Steve Waugh has been at Lord's this week and felt neither team was particularly out of order in Cardiff.

Ponting is Waugh's successor and has no problems with the conduct of his team. "I don't think I have ever been pulled up for anything outside of playing within the spirit of the game," Ponting said. "We have always had the finger pointed at us about that sort of stuff. But we never seem to get in too much trouble from the authorities about the spirit of the game."

He said the fall-out from the time wasting had been "overcooked". "There is so much hype around the series that little things like that can turn into really big things," he said. "The entire game, I felt, was played in terrific spirit, it was on for young and old out on the field as we saw with the Siddle and Swann battle. But otherwise it was a great Test match."

In 2005 the Australians were considered too friendly with their opponents and fell to a 2-1 series loss. Strauss said the circumstances and personnel for this contest were different and the dynamic from previous battles had changed. "Players do what feels natural to them," he said.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Aamir on July 19, 2009, 9:27 GMT

    Why don't the Aussies ever accept their mistakes ? They think they are never wrong but they should know that they are no more the best team and now every single team has the capability of beating them. I was very happy to see Ponting missing one easy runout and dropping one sitter during the 3rd day of the 2nd Test. His face was worth watching after those two incidents.

  • Adrian on July 19, 2009, 8:41 GMT

    Call it bad-sportsmanship, call it whatever you like but the fact is, with Ponting as captain Australia has won 17 out of 20 series and will probably retire as the most successful captain in the history of the game (in series victories). Ricky Ponting does what he needs to to win, like it or hate it, maybe a few other countries should take a leaf out of the Australians book.

  • Shruti on July 18, 2009, 13:07 GMT

    Australia are jittery because India and SA have got the better of them in recent times and Eng are tightening the noose at Lord's .Someone wrote 2-0 Aus ?

  • Anirban on July 18, 2009, 8:36 GMT

    nothing else is left in australia apart from some cheezy trash talking...

  • Vineet on July 18, 2009, 4:02 GMT

    I think Ponting is losing the whole plot. Even if it was timewasting, any team would have done it, as Hauritz himself accepted. Ponting has taken the issue to press, perhaps trying to pressurize english players if they get criticism by England press. If that was the aim, Ponting has lost the whole plot. As far as the worst captain according to morals and ethics, it was Greg Chappel. And for the spirit of game, there has not been a phrase which was so open to understanding and debate. For sydney test, cultural differences were cited for what happened, meaning spirit of game is different in Australia and India, implying you don't have a universal spirit. What is right in India is wrong in Australia and vice versa. These are just words uttered by trying to be smart and righteous people wnating to be called greats in every term. You won't hear these things come from Sachin or Sir Sobers or Gundappa Vishwanath or Dravid or Kumble or for that matter Gilchrist.

  • Andrew on July 18, 2009, 0:18 GMT

    Well Done to Flecth, He has achieved exactly what he set out to do and that is to get under Ricky's skin. Why can't Ricky ever just walk away from a scrap. His behavior is clearly a reflection on his poor character. Congrats Ricky you are the most abrasive Skipper in the history of cricket.

  • Sanjay on July 17, 2009, 19:46 GMT

    and forgot to mention how brad haddin used his gloves and flicked the bails to get kiwi batsmen Neil broom out bowled !! that certainly qualifies within the spirit of the game !!

  • Sanjay on July 17, 2009, 19:23 GMT

    I agree with nick how can anyone question punter's sportsmanship when he doesn't have any !! and for the aussie fans who have a short lived memory i remember the aussies sending out towels and bottles of water when brett lee and glenn were trying to stave off a defeat in the 3rd test in 2005 !! I am really glad they didnt win the first test in cardiff and hope they wont win either !! Even in the last test in Nagpur pointing used his part timers to avoid being fined for slow over rate at the cost of victory i totally agree with jeff thompson abt ricky as a captain !!

  • Aditya on July 17, 2009, 6:36 GMT

    We all know Ponting is a real cry-baby. I bet he would have done even worse if his team were saving/winning an innings. We saw that repeatedly Sydney against India and RSA. I could see grass in his hands when he was appealing for the catch of Dhoni. Hee hee.

  • harish on July 17, 2009, 5:48 GMT

    Ponting & his team mates have been the victims for such incidents most of the times, and rightly so. I think no player from the australian team has the right to speak about such incidents accusingly, since they were the ones who introduced the concept of sledging on-field in the game of cricket.

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