Ricky Ponting spurns the follow-on

Is it 2006 or 1996? The team of resilient battlers crafted by Hussain and transformed into world-beaters by Vaughan is nowhere to be seen. In its place we've got a load of insipid ringers.

Don't give up hope yet, though. We're sure it takes longer than five days to dismantle so much good work. These players have pride and though it may seem unlikely at present, more than a little class. They'll come good before this series is out. We only hope that it's soon. Very soon.

Some people seem baffled by Ricky Ponting's decision to decline to enforce the follow-on. We don't think it's a bad move. Psychologically, he's crushing England. In fact, psychologically, he's crushing us. We already have to stare into a bright light for six hours a day to combat the misery of a British winter. Before long we'll have to devise a special plinth so we can sit the sun on the bridge of our nose for 24 hours a day.

The ease of Australia's batting sandwiched between what may turn out to be two atrocious England innings will remove the argument that the pitch deteriorated. But mostly he wants to ensure that his bowlers get the most out of the new ball. This seems to be our theme for this match: Using the new ball well. It's no coincidence that England wasted it and conceded 600, whereas Australia made the most of every ball and knocked England over.

If Australia had enforced the follow-on, McGrath, Lee and Clark would have been about 90% and that could have made a difference. As it is, they'll put their feet up, sleep soundly and come out tomorrow raring to go.

Ponting's leaving nothing to chance.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

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