Ponting up for battle in commentators’ WhatsApp group
While the gripping Ashes series has produced some exciting moments, there’s an ongoing battle outside the playing field between a host of former players from the two countries.
Former Australia captains Mark Taylor and Ponting - alongside ex-Australia women’s cricketer Mel Jones - are the only three commentators in the Sky Sports panel from Down Under for the 2023 edition of the Ashes and the trio have been heavily outnumbered by a large contingent of locals during what has been an outstanding battle on the field.
Ricky Ponting has reacted strongly to Joe Root’s suggestions after the Manchester Test.#WTC25— ICC (@ICC) July 25, 2023
Ponting discussed the off-field banter within the WhatsApp group for commentators with host Sanjana Ganesan on the latest episode of The ICC Review and said he has been holding his own despite the lack of support.
“I'm a man of few words until I get pricked and poked enough and then I have to come out and defend myself or defend my country,” Ponting said, laughing.
"There's only been Mark Taylor and I as the only Aussies that have been in the commentary box, although Mel Jones was there for the first couple of games. So we've been heavily outnumbered, there's no doubt about that."
With England’s hopes getting washed out during the fourth Test in Manchester the banter reached an all-time high, according to Ponting.
“You reckon the English players were not happy that they couldn't get back out (on to the field). Well the same feeling was bouncing around the commentary box and all sorts of accusations made at me for doing rain dances and everything," Ponting said.
“So look, I think I'm pretty good at holding my own. I mean, the point with this as well is I think everyone, everyone sort of spectator wise, and I think even to a certain degree in the commentary box is almost like everyone thinks I'm still playing, still part of the team, and it means as much to me now as when I played."
The former Australia skipper - who also reinforced his role as neutral commentator - went on to describe how he is reminded of some of the Ashes incidents from his playing days every time he visits England.
“Whenever I can't come here to the UK, there's always replays of me getting run out by the substitute fielder in 2005,” Ponting said, referring to his famous run-out by substitute fielder Gary Pratt from the epic 2005 Ashes series.
“There's always the image of me walking up through the stand at Trent Bridge and having a few words to say to (former England coach) Duncan Fletcher.
“There's always me tossing the coin at Edgbaston and deciding to bowl first and England making 400 on the first day. So I'm generally ribbed quite a bit in the back of the commentary box.”
Unperturbed by the pile on, Ponting says he has “plenty of ammunition” to use against some of the former England players in the commentary box.
“(I have) got plenty of ammunition to come back with,” Ponting smiles.
Bazball is four Tests old against the World Test Champions, and Ricky Ponting's verdict on the phenomenon may surprise some 👀#WTC25— ICC (@ICC) July 24, 2023
“Nasser (Hussain) has never won and never played in a winning Ashes team, Ashes series team. Mike Atherton might have even been the same, I'm not sure with that. I've got plenty of ammunition to throw back, it's just that I'm outnumbered all the time and I've got to make sure I've got plenty of good stuff.”
The fifth and final Test will begin at The Oval from July 27 with the hosts in with a chance to level the series.