Belfast Telegraph

The Ashes: Ponting loses his cool as England show their mettle

Ricky Ponting was involved in an altercation with his England counterpart Andrew Strauss at stumps on the opening day of the second Test as the pressure continued to tell on the Australia skipper.

The row originated between wicketkeeper Brad Haddin and Strauss with Ponting quick to intervene and exchange words with the Middlesex opener.

The cause of the spat remains a mystery but speculation suggests it could have been over England's attempts to waste time towards the end of the day while Ponting has also been vocal of his displeasure at bowlers leaving the field on a regular basis.

Ponting is facing one of the biggest challenges of his career with an Australia side which is weaker than previous versions.

He lasted just one ball, edging a James Anderson delivery to Graeme Swann in the slips as his side made an awful start.

Ponting’s frustration was clear as England served another warning that they have the tools to capture the Ashes, with James Anderson on fire.

Swann hailed a “dream start” as England firmly took the upper hand at Adelaide.

Australia won the toss — so often all but decisive on a batsman's paradise at the Adelaide Oval — but were bowled out for 245 despite the in-form Michael Hussey's 93.

It could have been even worse for the hosts after they slipped to two for three inside the first three overs — Simon Katich run out without facing before Anderson removed Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke on his way to figures of four for 51.

“We'll take that,” Swann said. “We got the best possible start with two wickets in the first over and three within three overs. We'll take 245 all out any day.

“To get Ricky Ponting first ball is good enough but Clarke as well, plus the run-out, was a dream start.”

Another run-out later accounted for tail-ender Xavier Doherty in a strong fielding display from England, and Swann continued:

“There was a lot of energy round the field, those who weren't bowling were scampering around like idiots — KP especially. The odd pat on the bum here and there is what you need to keep you going.

“We work hard on it, five or six years ago we were probably the worst fielding side in the world.”

Swann took two wickets himself, including top-scorer and former Northamptonshire team-mate Hussey, but was forced into a largely defensive task as he bowled unchanged through the second session.

“It's a flat pitch, it didn't really spin, so my job is to tie one end down and I was pretty happy with the way I did that,” he said. “Two wickets were the icing on the cake really.

“Hussey smashed me all over the place last week. You get these mini-battles and Hussey is one of mine — he's a mate of mine, he's a great batsman, but I enjoy it more when he's on his way off.

“He's a very good player of spin and he's hit a purple patch at the right time for him — we need to knock him out of that out as soon as possible.” On the prospects for the remainder of the match, he said: “It's a very good pitch so we'll be looking to bat as big as we can, hopefully that will be enough and we can then leave ourselves two or three days to win the Test.”

Hussey admitted his side came up short of where they hoped to be, but is adamant they can still battle back in the remainder of the match.

“It was a pretty amazing start but I enjoyed the contest and if we bowl well we're still in with a great chance,” he said.

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