Ricky Ponting: England’s Bazball left Australia searching for answers in Ashes

Ricky Ponting: England’s Bazball left Australia searching for answers in Ashes

Australia were left “scratching the head” about how to combat Bazball as the Ashes series went on according to Ricky Ponting who believed the final 2-2 scoreline was a fair result although remained adamant that the controversial ball change at The Oval played a decisive hand.
Two days of rain at Old Trafford enabled them to retain the Ashes after being plundered for 592 at 5.49 an over before their chance of a first Ashes series win in the country since 2001 slipped away on a dramatic final day at The Oval where an earlier change of ball brought England’s quick bowlers back into the game.

“The two contrasting styles of play were great to sit back and watch,” Ponting told the SEN Tassie breakfast show which is co-hosted by former Australia captain Tim Paine. “There was a lot of talk about Bazball and how England would approach it, and would that style stand up against the quality of the Australian attack – looking back, it probably did.

“It probably had some of the Australian players, coaches and the captain at different times scratching their head as to how they were going to combat it. Think the 2-2 result, albeit probably slightly biased with a bit of controversy in that last Test with the ball changed the way that it was, that gifted England some conditions they probably shouldn’t have got, think the level of cricket played across the series, the 2-2 result was probably fair.”

While Chris Woakes, who was named the Compton-Miller medalist as Player of the Series despite appearing in just three matches, and Mark Wood had huge impacts after coming into the side, Ponting pinpointed England’s sustained aggression with the bat as the key element in their fightback.

“It was more their top-order batting, I think, [that] we struggled to come to grips with,” he said. “The way that Crawley and Duckett were able to play at the start of every innings, really, they got England off to flying starts and put pressure straight back on the Australian attack. When that momentum started to build it was hard for the Australians to rein it back in.

“Zak Crawley has got to take a lot of credit, he was the one going into the series who was under the most pressure. That 180 he got at Manchester was as good a Test match batting as you could seeā€¦as I said it had [Pat Cummins] and the boys scratching their heads as to how they were going to bowl at him.

“Think even the Australian boys might be sitting back and looking at the way they played, [and asking] what can we do a little bit better to combat that in the future. Think a lot of other countries around the world might be looking at it as well and saying if we want to compete with Australia maybe this is the way we have to go.”

Ponting backed the selection calls made by Australia throughout the series and praised Cummins’ ability to get through six matches including the World Test Championship final against India although did think there may be some new faces introduced to the bowling attack over the next 12 months.

“As the series wore on, Cummo was probably the pick again, but Starcy was outstanding,” he said. “There were some questions about whether Pat could get through those six Tests and keep his intensity up; there might have been a bit of a flat spot when he was under a bit of attack at Manchester but the way he bounced back in the last Test, his pace at the start of the last Test was the best it’s been for a long time, so he kept coming.

“As it went on, felt to me like they could have brought [Michael] Neser in at some stage in the right conditions. But I think what they did selection wise was right. We know there is enough [depth] underneath these guys, [Lance] Morris and those guys sitting back in the wings. Think we’ve got enough there and at different times I reckon through the next 12 months we might see some different faces in our bowling line-up.”

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