The Reuters global sports blog
Ricky Ponting made the long, lonely walk back to the dressing room after another Ashes failure on Tuesday as England moved to the brink of a famous triumph at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)
The sight of Ponting’s wickets shattered after he had scrapped to 20 runs in 73 balls summed up his own personal decline and that of his once-dominant team.
England, still leading by 246 runs after their first innings 513, just need to take four more Australian wickets on Wednesday to ensure they become the first England team to return home from Australia with the Ashes in 24 years.
Mick Tsikas took the picture.
Australia skipper Ricky Ponting failed for the fourth time in five innings in the current Ashes series as the hosts struggled to 179-6 at tea on the first day of the third test against England.
His captaincy may be under threat but with his team mates (Mike Hussey excepted) also failing at the crease, his place as a batsman looks safe for a while now.
Did somebody call for a doctor? A psychiatrist more like! A serious amount of surgery is needed on the Australian cricket team to help them turn around their fortunes in the third Ashes test starting on Thursday.
Australia could make five changes for the Perth test as they shuffle their pack in an attempt to find the magic combination to take 20 English wickets and take advantage of the “Freemantle Doctor” (the term given to the breeze that blows across the WACA ground which can be a useful asset to any bowling attack).
“Bowling, Shane” are not words English batsmen would want to hear ever again, but how would the Australians react to Shane Warne making an astonishing return to answer his nation’s plea for help in the wake of the second test defeat to the ‘Poms’?
To say Warne was England’s primary Ashes tormentor for years and years is an understatement. Every time the leg spinner had the ball in his hand he had the opposition quaking, and even off the pitch he was a handful.
With Australia’s current cricket team seemingly keen on proving they can be just as hopeless as any cricket team England produced circa 1990-2000, what better time to go Down Under and watch England defend the Ashes?
I was meant to go four years ago after the epic 2005 series, only to pull out at the last minute and buy a house instead.
England captain Andrew Strauss sounded confident when he said his side could not have prepared more thoroughly for their bid to retain the Ashes. The squad flew out to Perth on Friday with good reasons to be optimistic about returning from Australia with the famous urn, a feat last achieved by an England side in 1986-87.
Here I look at a few of those reasons to be cheerful, while below my colleague Pritha Sarkar considers why Australia may themselves be feeling confident.
England have regained the Ashes after beating Australia by 197 runs at the Oval to seal a 2-1 series victory.
How important was Andrew Flintoff’s run out of Ricky Ponting when the Australia captain looked well set? Flintoff did little with bat or ball in his last test before retiring but still made sure he grabbed the headlines.
It can be a dog’s life being a cricket captain: adored and cherished, chastised and deplored in equal measure. If Ponting was the crown prince of captains after the first test in Cardiff, he became the pauper at Lord’s and is now very much in the shadow of Strauss at the Oval.
The second day of the final and deciding Ashes test could not have gone much better for the England captain, with the home side bundling Australia out for 160 inside 53 overs and closing day two on 58 for 3, a second innings lead of 230 after England were bowled out for 332 earlier in the day.
Australia have far more limited options than England when they consider changes to their
battle-weary side for the fourth Ashes test starting on Friday at Headingley, with their main hope of fresh impetus resting on the fitness of Brett Lee.
England had the luxury of bringing in fresh blood on Tuesday, calling up fast bowler Ryan Sidebottom and uncapped batsman Jonathan Trott for the first time this series, while again putting Steve Harmison on standby in a 14-man squad.
A stunning day’s Test cricket, wasn’t it? If there was ever any doubt over the status of the longest form of the game then Sunday’s play will have washed away concerns.
You simply don’t get this sort of story told, with its twists and turns, at a Twenty20 match or a 50-over game for that matter. It had everything; wickets, runs, hostility, sledging and a dramatic finale that leaves a positive result to this rain interrupted Test match still possible.