Fan Following

First-person reports from the stands

Australia v England, ICC Champions Trophy, 1st semi-final, Centurion

Ponting brings it

For an Aussie fan it can't get much better than sitting with the Barmy Army and watching Ponting and Watson dismantle England

Michael De Witt

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Ricky Ponting produced another elegant innings, Australia v England, 1st semi-final, Champions Trophy, Centurion Park, October 2, 2009
Now that's a classy shot © AFP
Related Links
Players/Officials: Ricky Ponting | Shane Watson
Series/Tournaments: ICC Champions Trophy

Choice of game
I picked this game for the epic history between these two phenomenal teams. My prediction was that Australia were favorites but England, having had the all-important resurgence since landing on South African shores, were the more-than-capable underdogs. Unfortunately the good old Aussies have that undeniable big-match temperament.

Team supported
Australia, as always.

Key performer
At first it looked like Tim Bresnan, but in the end there is no question that Shane Watson showed maturity and poise to take Australia home. He started off slow but opened up and expressed himself once he and his captain settled into a rhythm.

One thing I would have changed about the match
I would have liked to see Australia bat first, to see just how far their explosive batting line-up could have taken them.

Face-off I relished
A good match-up was between Watson and James Anderson, with the new ball. Anderson extracted some movement early on and even when England were dead and buried, he still peppered Watson with some spicy short balls.

We took along all the apparel we could find. There were no guesses as to who we were supporting, oversized flag and all.

Wow moment
A tie between a huge six hit by Watson over midwicket which hit a boy on the head at the grass embankment right next to where we were sitting and Ponting's 12,000th run. Shows that the calls for his retirement are hopelessly advanced.

Player watch
James Hopes fielded at the boundary where I was sitting. What a sad day. All the Australians are perceived to be more than adequate fielders, but unfortunately Mr Hopes dropped two catches that might have seen England all out for 120. On a minor note: only the England players were willing to give signatures to the fans.

Shot of the day
Watson's six over midwicket to get to his hundred was fantastically timed, perfectly balanced and a clear sign of dominance over the England attack. But the shot that really spoke to the purists was a pull by Ponting: bisecting the on-side field, it really did look like a tracer bullet under the lights. It was utterly unstoppable - a classic, against a good ball just short of a length.

Crowd meter
England were hot favorites at the ground (which might be due to their opponents being Australia in South Africa). The ground was not at capacity but you wouldn't have known if you were stuck in the Barmy Army section in an Australia shirt. There was one crowd catch, taken over the head off a shot hit straight back over the bowler; somewhat lucky to hold onto it but a great catch in the end.

Fancy-dress index
Only the Barmy Army legion near us was really dressed up. If only they kept their shirts on…

"Raining Men" for Ponting, seriously? Not sure what that was about.

What a rip-off
Traffic was well controlled and the event very well organised, but the fact that parking cost nearly as much as the ticket is a bitter pill to swallow.

ODI v Twenty20
In three simple words: bigger is better. It is unfathomable that this form of the game might be dying out.

Banner of the day
A Barmy shirt read: "Marvellous. Bloody Marvellous"

There is no question England were totally outplayed, but still a great game to watch with Bresnan fighting back. And what a show from Ponting and Watson. The crowd was great, with a lot of participation, and great catering from the hosts made it an exceptional day off work.

Marks out of 10 9. Any bad day at the cricket beats any good day at the office. Watching Watson and Ponting in full flight turning their opponents into a hapless mound in person is something difficult to express in words.

Keen on writing on the Champions League for Cricinfo? Find out more here.

Michael De Witt was born in Johannesburg on Valentine's Day, 1986, and has been playing and watching cricket since early primary school. He grew up watching modern-day heroes such as Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist and Steve Waugh. An honours graduate from the University of Johannesburg in the field of Law, he currently practises at a high-profile firm in Sandton. He plays Powaball cricket (Twenty20), TC 30-over cricket and action cricket. His favourite player is Ricky Ponting.

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