Ponting labels Root’s suggestion ‘ridiculous’
Manchester's fickle weather cost England any chance of levelling a riveting Ashes series at 2-2 when the recent fourth Test in Manchester petered out to a tame draw and Root was left frustrated at the circumstances surrounding the finish of the match that saw the entire final day washed out.
With slow over-rates an ongoing issue at Test level and England's inconsistent weather also forcing further interruptions, Root questioned why more wasn’t done to prevent overs being lost when speaking to BBC TMS after the fourth Test.
“It doesn’t get dark here in England until 10pm in the summer, why can’t we just play until we bowl the overs?” asked Root during the Manchester Test.
“There’s been a lot of chat about not bowling the overs. There are so many different ways of trying to find opportunities to get as much play in as possible. At every opportunity at every stage you should be looking to find ways to get the Test on. We batted in worse conditions at Edgbaston, but that is cricket. You just want consistency in those conditions.”
Ponting discussed Root's comments with host Sanjana Ganesan on the latest episode of The ICC Review and the Australia legend was clear with his assessment of them.
“You can't just choose to change the laws of the game whenever you want to,” Ponting said.
“I'm sure there have been times when England have wanted to not get back out there and play themselves. I mean, that's just a ridiculous thing to say."
Stuart Broad, meanwhile, wrote in his column in the Daily Mail that it would be “unjust if weather had a decisive say” ahead of the final day’s play.
England had dominated three days of play at Old Trafford to make a strong statement and were in with a strong chance to level the series had the weather not interrupted proceedings.
After putting Australia in to bat, a risky decision in itself at the venue given the history, England bowled them out for 317 before building a massive lead on the back of some positive batting. To then have Australia five down before they took a lead made England favourites to win the Test before rain played spoilsport.
While Ponting acknowledged Broad’s frustration, he was quick to point out that this wasn’t the first time it happened.
“I can understand Stuart’s frustration. You know, they had dominated that game. They had to dominate that game, they had to win that game to get themselves back in the series. So they'd done everything that they possibly could, but unfortunately the weather came in," Ponting said.
“So I can understand the frustration there, but it's not like it's the first time it's ever happened, especially in the UK and especially in Manchester. Looking at the numbers the other day, Manchester now I think is on an even keel with the Sydney Cricket Ground on the most full days of international cricket that have been washed out. So it's not the first time it's happened here, won't be the last time.”
Ponting also agreed that the result can be pretty frustrating as a captain, but mentioned that it was something England were aware of when monitoring predicted weather forecasts prior to the match.
“There's absolutely nothing worse (as a captain). You've worked as hard as they have for three days, well three-and-a-half days really in that Test match and they were dominating the game," Ponting added.
“But by the same token, they knew at the start of the game that this was going to happen. You know, they did everything they could in their power to try and force a result. Unfortunately for them, they've waited until the fourth Test to actually play that way and get themselves in a situation like that in a game. And for them, it was too late."
Ponting also drew parallels with the Manchester Test in the 2013 Ashes series, with the scoreline reading 2-0 in favour of England. The visitors needed a win to prevent England from retaining the Ashes and had the game in their grasp when they set a fourth-innings target of 332 and had the hosts at 37/3 before rain washed out their hopes on day five.
“It's not like it's the first time it happened,” Ponting pointed out.
“I reckon there was the exact reverse of this happening in 2013 when Australia were pushing for a win and the last couple of days of one of those Test matches got washed out. So it's not the first time. When you're playing Test matches over five days, the weather will come into it at some stage.”