Australian legend delivers latest verdict on Bazball
Australia retained the Ashes with an unassailable 2-1 series lead on Sunday after the Manchester Test was drawn following a washed-out fifth day.
It was a blow for England who were primed to draw level in the series, having fought back from 2-0 down.
However, England came in for criticism earlier in the series, after captain Ben Stokes’ decision to declare despite being on top on the first day in the first Test Edgbaston, leading to Australia finding a way back to win the Test. Their aggressive approach to Australia’s short-ball tactic in the Lord’s Test, when they conceded a lead of 91 in the first innings, was also criticised.
Ponting, speaking on The ICC Review the day after the fourth Test, said England should have played smart cricket in those crucial moments.
“Some of those decisions – the Edgbaston declaration, Lord's first innings batting – I think they got a little bit carried away with it then,” he told The ICC Review.
“One thing that hasn't probably been spoken enough about though is … they have spoken about the right time and the right place to play that brand of cricket and they want to have aggressive cricketers and attacking cricketers, but they want to have smart cricketers as well.
“I think a couple of times they just probably haven't been as smart as they could have been. Day two at Manchester was just unbelievable cricket. Zak Crawley, 189 off 182 balls, and Joe Root, almost a run-a-ball, what'd he make, 80-odd. It was some of the most entertaining and demoralising Test match cricket that I've probably ever seen.
“And that's why it's nice to be a part of, but at the end of the day, they're 2-1 down, they can't win the series, and as much as they've dominated, say they've dominated certain parts of the game, it still hasn't been good enough to get their nose in front of the series.”
Ponting said he has enjoyed being part of the series in his role as a broadcaster with Sky, and drew parallels with the epic 2005 Ashes series.
“It's being spoken about like the 2005 series, and we know the 2005 had a huge impact on the way Test cricket was watched and probably played all around the world after that series,” he said.
“England can be very proud of what they're trying to achieve and what they're trying to do. You know, so many kids at the ground, so many kids enjoying Test cricket, families there enjoying it – people that are not necessarily huge Test match fans are sending messages through to everyone talking about how good it's been to watch this sort of style of play.”
Stokes, the England captain, said after the drawn fourth Test that, despite the loss his side would be spoken about in later years for their approach to the game. Ponting, however, thought differently.
“They probably will be spoken about, but I mean, even if they don't win, this is the other thing – with one Test match to go, if Australia win and they beat England 3-1, I'm sure more people are going to be speaking about that result rather than some of the individual performances from England,” he said.
“At the end of the day – maybe it's just me, maybe I'm too competitive – [but there is a balance] between being out-and-out entertainers and not worrying about the result, and at different times adjusting their game and thinking more about winning and losing.
“And if they did that, with the talent they've got on the side, they can win a lot more games. I think that (Manchester Test) was only their first drawn game in 17 Test matches. So they have played some entertaining cricket for sure.”
The final Test at The Oval begins on Thursday.