Widely regarded as one of the greatest batters of all time, former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting has been doing commentary duties in the ongoing Ashes series. One of the reasons behind Ponting gaining acclaim for his mic skills has been his astute predictions, which came to the fore once again during England’s dramatic final day draw at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on Sunday.
With just two overs to go, Steve Smith shone with the ball and dismissed Jack Leach, getting one to rip past the left-hander’s outside edge. It was Smith’s first wicket in five years as the ball sailed to David Warner in the slips, increasing Australia’s chances to make it 4-0 in the five-Test series. Smith bowled four overs in England’s second innings, conceding ten runs, but the pair of Stuart Broad and James Anderson stuck at the crease to pull off a hard-fought draw for the visitors.
Interestingly, Ponting was commentating during Leach’s dismissal. He had just talked about Smith’s plan to “get something explode out of the footmark” when Leach nicked it to Warner. “Can he just get something to explode out of the footmark? That’s what he’s trying to do, he’s getting it wide outside the off stump, catch a footmark… About there! About there!” said Ponting on 7Cricket.
Fans were all praises for Ponting, who seems to have a knack for estimating a scenario. He had also predicted Cameron Green’s dismissal in the second Test, saying England might target the right-hander’s stumps before Ben Stokes castled him.
“A very distinct change of tactics now for Cam Green. They’ll be a lot fuller and lot straighter, they’ll target his stumps. He sets up with a very open front foot, which is generally a sign of someone worried about getting LBW and does not want their front foot too far across in the line of the stumps,” Ponting had said while commentating.
Talking about the fourth Test, Australia skipper Pat Cummins was unable to use pacers in the final three overs due to fading light but Smith’s wicket made things interesting. The Aussies needed one more wicket in the last two overs but Broad and Anderson, despite as many as eight fielders crowding around them, stood firm to frustrate the home side.
At stumps, England finished 270-9 with Broad unbeaten on eight and Anderson not out on zero to give England their best result of the five-match series which Australia lead 3-0. Earlier, England resumed the final session on 174/4. Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow added 19 more runs to the total before Stokes (60) was sent back to the pavilion by Nathan Lyon.
Cummins then trapped Jos Buttler for 11 and got the better of Mark Wood (0), reducing England to 218/7. Jonny Bairstow and Jack Leach provided resistance before the former was removed by Scott Boland. Smith, in the end, came into the attack and on the final delivery of the 100th over, dismissed Jack Leach (26). It all boiled down to Broad and Anderson battling out the last two overs to help England register a draw.