London, July 13 (IANS) Ricky Ponting was quick to indulge in mind games ahead of Thursday’s second cricket Test at Lord’s, saying England faced more “soul searching” than his own team, despite Australia’s failure to win the first match of the Ashes series at Cardiff Sunday.
The Australian captain was stressing the fact that they have not lost at Lord’s since 1934, thus keeping up the pressure before reaching London to play at their home away from home.
“England will have more soul-searching and selection issues than we will,” he was quoted as saying by the Guardian after the first Test ended in the tensest of draws.
“They have been outplayed for four days of the Test match. All I keep hearing from commentators over the past few days is about the selection changes England have to make for the next game.
“I’m not looking at this game as a letdown. I’m disappointed that we didn’t win but I’m not disappointed with the way we played over five days. We have proved a lot to ourselves as a group that, whatever conditions we are confronted with or whatever happens at the toss, we can play an exceptionally high level of Test cricket.”
Ponting talked of the 2005 series, when Australia’s last pair of Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath denied England for 24 deliveries to save the third Test at Old Trafford. The then England captain Michael Vaughan rallied his team by pointing out that the Australians were wildly celebrating a draw, and England duly won the next game at Trent Bridge. Now the Australians are hoping for the same outcome in reverse.
“It will be hard for the guys to see how well we have played at the moment but that is certainly what I will be saying to them all,” said Ponting.
“I am not sure we let them off the hook. We did most things in our power. There wasn’t much in that wicket. We batted on it on Saturday without ever really looking like we would lose a wicket. For us to create chances and to take seven wickets on the last day was a reasonable effort from everyone.”
But Ponting’s irritation at failing to complete the task and his downright anger with what he regarded as time-wasting tactics from the England dressing-room gave way to admiration for Paul Collingwood, whose 344-minute innings of 74 was almost forgotten amid the incredulous praise heaped on the batting of James Anderson and Monty Panesar.
“It was a situation that suited Paul’s game,” said Ponting.
“It shows a lot of courage I guess for someone like that to take the majority of the bowling and he got through to 12 overs from the end. He did a great job and deserves a pat on the back. He was very watchful and knew what job he had to do.”
The England captain, Andrew Strauss, endorsed Ponting’s praise for Collingwood, saying: “He just brought his character into his performance. He is a tenacious little red-head. That’s the way he is and that’s the way he plays. He never takes a backward step and he fights, he keeps fighting. That was his route into the Test team and it’s kind of the only way he knows. In circumstances like that you almost expect him to do something along those lines and it just underlines his value to the side.”