Ricky Ponting warns England already in danger of Ashes whitewash

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Modified Dec 12, 2021 10:42 PM IST

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Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has warned England they are already in danger of an Ashes whitewash after just one Test. Ponting believes the tourists had a real chance of coming out on top in the series opener in Brisbane with a comprehensive nine-wicket defeat spelling bad news for their prospects over the next four games. The 46-year-old, who took in events at The Gabba as a pundit for host broadcasters Channel 7, knows exactly how a 5-0 Ashes win feels having captained one in 2006/07. “The conditions are only going to get better for Australia. The conditions (in Brisbane) were very English-like,” he told.

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“There was more pace and bounce but as far as their bowling is concerned, they’re probably not going to get that much movement anywhere else for the entire series. “If they don’t win in Adelaide then there could be shades of ’06/07.” Ponting also tipped in-form Western Australia seamer Jhye Richardson as an able deputy for Josh Hazlewood if the latter is ruled out with sore a sore side. Hazlewood has left the squad and flown to Sydney but a spokesperson for Cricket Australia said he was not yet ruled out.

Richardson would be vying for selection against the uncapped Michael Neser, who pushed his case with a five-wicket haul this week for Australia A against England Lions, and Ponting thinks he has the skills to perform. Root, who said on the eve of the series that the next few weeks would define his reign, was bullish about both of the big calls. With England having lost by 5-0 and 4-0 in the last two visits, he argued boldness was a necessity. “We have to be brave, we have to look to do things differently to previous tours,” he said.

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“If we go about things exactly as we have on the last two tours, we’re going to get the same results. I look back on the toss and I think it was the right decision. Being 29 for four makes it look like that’s not the case and credit to Australia to exploit those conditions a little bit. “But if we get some sort of score on the board, with how that wicket started to behave today, you’re looking at a very different contest.” As for the decision to rest record wicket-taker, Anderson, for the second Test and leave his nearest challenger out, he held firm.

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Broad was ultimately shelved in favor of spinner Jack Leach who was smashed for 102 in just 13 overs as part of a pre-planned attack by the Australian batters. “In terms of selection, it’s easy to say with hindsight. We could have gone a different way but we wanted variety in our attack, we wanted different ways of changing the pace of things,” said Root. “I wanted to be able to change the momentum of the game and we went with the spinner. Credit to Australia, they took on Leachy. “Richardson was obviously very close to playing this Test instead of Starc. He’s in great form,” said Ponting.

“When the ball’s not swinging and seaming, I’d have him ahead of Neser as far as an all-around bowling package is concerned. Neser obviously thrives in swinging, seaming conditions that he gets at the Gabba – and might get at some stage in Adelaide – but I still think Richardson gets the nod.” England attracted huge amounts of scrutiny for leaving James Anderson, Stuart Broad, and the small matter of 1,156 Test wickets on the sidelines at The Gabba, with widespread shock Down Under and no shortage of dissenting voices at home. Root then won the toss and batted under overcast skies and saw his side rolled over for 147.

It was all uphill from there as Australia racked up a 278-run first-innings lead and finished off a nine-wicket victory by chasing down a meagre target of 20 on the fourth afternoon.