India v Australia, 1st Test, Mohali, 5th day October 5, 2010

Ponting defends Smith's throw of the dice


It was so typically and positively Australian. Six runs were required, an lbw appeal - which looked plumb by the way - had just been turned down, and the batsman was out of his crease. Steven Smith, not even playing the Test, on as a substitute for Doug Bollinger, let the throw rip with nobody backing up. Not many young substitutes in the world would have had the presence of the mind, or the heart to go for that throw. It narrowly missed the stumps and went for four overthrows. The Indian batsmen jumped for joy, and the crowd went delirious. Johnson then fired one down the leg side, and it was all over.

This play will be remembered for how it released the pressure that was built through hard work over the three preceding overs, but we wouldn't have it any other way from an Australian. If there is a direct hit that can get Australia a win, it has to be gone for.

Ricky Ponting, still coming to terms with this gut-wrenching defeat, spoke candidly in the post-match press conference. He was a defeated man, but still deservedly proud of his team. Smith's work was a perfect example of how much value Australia added to the Test. "You feel sorry for Smithy," Ponting said. "Young bloke always looking for ways to win the game. Had he hit the stumps it would have been game over. That's what we expect from our guys. If there is a half chance we are going to take it.

"If that was me, I would have done exactly the same thing. I wouldn't have worried about who is behind the stumps. If I have a chance to hit the stumps and win a Test match, I am going to take it. There is certainly no blame going Smith's way. That's a great attitude for the young bloke to have."

Smith was obviously disappointed during that chaotic last over. "We have all spoken to him," Ponting said. "He was a bit disappointed coming off the ground, but there is no need to be, he saw the stumps, he saw the win there, he had a go and missed. Cost us four runs. Not much more you can say."

This wasn't obviously all that Australia brought to Mohali, but it summed up their attitude over the last five days. They might not be the same dominating side of the last decade, but they are going to make it difficult for sides to beat them. They just won't go away, and whenever there is a single stump visible for a Test win, they will go for it. That played its part in making this Test great. That is what Australia need to be thanked for.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on October 8, 2010, 13:46 GMT

    In case my comments get published I agree to you ijk.

  • Jaya on October 8, 2010, 9:06 GMT

    I dont know why ppl are saying India have to beat England to prove their ranking and thats not the right go i guess... It should be "If England is a good team, then they have to come hard against India"... I hope for the last 4 series, England have never won against India in Home or away... Australians are much decent competitors than England against India... I think u ppl have bad memory, anyway i will recollect it... Last time when toured England India won it(1-0), against NZ(1-0), against 13 men Aussie team(1-2), against SA(1-2), against WI(1-0) irrespective of the subcontinent... So what needs to be done yet so far to reach No.1?... I think the only way to put down India is, U should bring Umpires like Steve Bucknor and Mark Benson... Isn't it?

  • Dummy4 on October 7, 2010, 15:55 GMT

    James from Surrey, I pray for u to get well soon. :)

  • Marcio on October 7, 2010, 2:45 GMT

    @ Gopal Krishna. The point is that Majr follows the same line as so many others here, selectively picking up umpiring errors that go against India (not no Australians complained), and then ignoring the rest so that it makes it look like the world is against India e.g, Majr wrote: "The number of times Hussey and North benefited should also be written about". Incredibly, Majr failed to notice that both Hussey and North were given out when they were not out in the second innings. Or maybe Majr is a not a native English writer, and confused his words (and he really meant that the decisions against Hussey and North were wrong). But I can only go on what is written on the page. I am not mind reader. Majr in particular didn't say there is a conspiracy, but many Indians here do say the umpires are against India. At any rate, given the large number of umpiring errors in this game largely panned out as about even, it is unnecessary to single out umpires for being the key to the result.

  • Wayne on October 7, 2010, 2:44 GMT

    1 or 2 away tours against lowly teams like New Zealand and West Indies have certainly helped them gain on their top rankings. The whole Indian set-up is a SHAM and we all know how corrupt they are (See the CWG story from their own media). Let us see if India can beat England today as it is a totally dominant team with world class players. But there would be no tours to England because India wants to be number one for the year, Right. Shame on all of them. Nobody can bet on India winning a match against any of the top teams on a given day. Dominant teams are those who usually win against any team on any given day like the West Indies in the 1980s and the Aussies in the last 2 decades did. This Indian team is the worst number one in history and the more they play against the top teams will surely see them come back to where they deserve. The BCCI are governed by the most corrupt people on Earth and these people are trying their best to destroy the game of cricket.

  • Marcio on October 7, 2010, 0:22 GMT

    @ Gopal Krishna. You lost the Sydney test by 130 runs. It wasn't even close, and Bucknor was a neutral umpire. No wonder Michael Holding resigned from the ICC as a result of Bucknor being replaced. This is what I mean by this constant victim mentality about umpires and results. Get over the Sydney test. You lost, and by a far greater margin than Australia lost the last two Ashes series, where a single wicket decided both series, and where there were plenty of umpiring issues. Sensible people just move on. That's what you can learn from Ricky Ponting, whom your media and internet has demonised way beyond the reality of the man. After all, he allowed a free-moving Laxman to have a runner in both innings, and that cost Australia the game (if his back was so bad that he could not run, how could he smash it everywhere at a run a ball?). Instead of calling him an "animal' you should say " thanks for your generosity & gentlemanly behavior." He now clearly puts the game above himself and Aust.

  • rko on October 6, 2010, 22:28 GMT

    I am a big Ian Chappell fan, so in this situation, I would have called him up and asked for his opinion before throwing the ball onto the stumps lol.. But guys what a match this was!! Actually we should thank both the umpires along with the players for giving such sanki (whose mind is not in middle) decisions. And one more good thing that this match did for me was, I again made up with my father after a long time, coz we were watching together but we didn't talk, but after India won, we both jumped with emotions and hugged each other. It was a great day for indian sports coz India also won 5 gold medals on that day in CWG.

  • karthik on October 6, 2010, 19:22 GMT

    james,,...thanks for worrying abt our go and wipe sheesh out of your team

  • Dummy4 on October 6, 2010, 19:05 GMT

    Hi James from Surrey, it doesnt matter if u care about the rankings or not, lets look at the three series u've mentioned. England in England, beaten in 2007. The last time England beat India in a Test Match was way back in 2006 and in a Test Series was... in 1996. So England is out of question, let them do something against a good team. Next Australia in Australia, technically not beaten them yet (thanks to Bucknor and co.), but anyone who's followed the series would agree that its been pretty close in Australia between these two teams, so not a big deal. The last time Australia beat India in a Test Match was in 2008 (Sydney if u call that a test match) and that was also the last time they beat us in a series (well.. again if u consider the Sydney test in the results). SA is a mouth watering challenge. We need to have 2 5 test series between the two teams; one in India and one in South Africa to determine who's the best.

  • Wayne on October 6, 2010, 18:38 GMT

    Hi, this is James from Surrey. India certainly are not the number one side in the world. Look how they struggled to win scoring a paltry 216 against 4th ranked Australia. India are the only team who usually plays at home as their schedule are prepared not just by the ICC but also by the BCCI because of their money clout and dominance over the ICC, which is pathetic. India can be considered number one only if they win against England in England, win against Australia in Australia and win against South Africa in S. Africa. Nobody cares today if they are top in the rankings. Even Sri Lanka who have not beaten any big team abroad are number two in the world which is as big a joke as India's top ranking. You could clearly see the schedule and make out how the BCCI have twisted the schedule so that Indian team remains on top by playing Sri Lanka around 50 times home and away in the last 2 years.

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