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Last Updated: Friday, 16 September 2005, 12:45 GMT 13:45 UK
Pratt the unlikely hero
By Scott Heinrich

Michael Vaughan, Gary Pratt and Andrew Flintoff
I've never experienced anything like it and probably won't ever again. It was mind-blowing
Gary Pratt (centre)

Gary Pratt is keeping level-headed despite a cameo role in the Ashes series which has elevated him to a cult figure in English cricket.

Pratt, a fringe player for Durham, upset the Aussies when running out skipper Ricky Ponting as a sub fielder at a key moment in the fourth Test.

"My feet are on the ground and I'm just concentrating on getting in the Durham side," Pratt told BBC Sport.

"It was just a normal, everyday thing you do - pick a ball up and throw it."

Ponting's dismissal turned the tide of the Trent Bridge Test - and the Ashes series - England's way, and brought to a head Australia's resentment over the home side's use of substitute fielders.

Ponting let fly at the England dressing room as he trudged off the field and was later fined 75% of his 5,200 match fee, even though Pratt was legitimately on the field for the injured Simon Jones.

"It was quite a big moment in the series. I've seen the run-out a few times on video and it looks quite nice to be honest," Pratt added.

Ricky Ponting is run out at Trent Bridge
I didn't even think about missing. I knew from the moment it left my hand it was the one
Gary Pratt

His fielding heroics, and the Australian indignation that followed, saw England fans latch onto him as some sort of ironic hero.

A group of fans at the fifth Test proudly donned Gary Pratt T-shirts, while a placard was spotted at Tuesday's Tragalgar Square bus parade carrying the words 'Pratt for OBE".

The 23-year-old is a one-day regular for his county side but has not played a Championship match all year.

Receiving the adoration of a nation alongside genuine stars like Andrew Flintoff was a culture shock.

"It's been very hectic but it's been great and I've been taking every moment of it in," Pratt said.

"Tuesday was absolutely fantastic. I've never experienced anything like it and probably won't ever again. It was mind-blowing.

"I've felt part of the side for a while now. I've only been helping out on 12th-man duties but I feel a really big part of it."

Pratt's expert fielding skills have been used by England since last summer, but he remained an unknown figure until that day in Nottingham when he secured his place in cricketing folklore.

Gary Pratt
Pratt has had a taster and wants to break into the England side

"I just wanted the ball to come to me every single ball," Pratt recalled.

"I remember Damien Martyn dropping one down, shouting yes and thinking to myself, 'right, that's me'.

"The ball was running along the square so I was able to pick it up cleanly. I had about one-and-a-half stumps in view and I just let it go.

"I didn't even think about missing. I knew from the moment it left my hand it was the one."

It was the moment Australia finally cracked, a sign that England were on top and on their way to Ashes glory for the first time in 18 long years.

Australia had been complaining over England's use of sub fielders to replace tired fast bowlers, a policy they saw as against the spirit of the game.

And for doing a "normal, everyday thing", Pratt was unwittingly at the centre of a storm.

"It was a heat of the moment thing from Ricky," Pratt said.

"I'm sure if Michael Clarke wasn't in their Test side he'd be used by the Australians. I spoke to Ricky on Monday night and he signed a picture for me. He's fine.

"Substitutes have been used in the past. Bowlers bowl their hearts out and go off and change their shirt and freshen up. Well, maybe not freshen up, but it's not like they're going off for 10 overs for a rest and a massage."

Pratt's taste of top-level cricket has made him want more, and he harbours serious ambitions to make the England team as a batsman - after he cements a place at Durham, of course.

"My opportunity has come about through what's happened with the Ashes. It's good in a way but not in another way," he explained.

"I'm in talks with Durham at the moment about extending my contract. I just want to play cricket and do well.

"I want to get into that England side as batter and a fielder as opposed to just as a 12th-man fielder.

"Not many of the guys get to see what goes on in the England dressing room, to be in there and feel what it's like. It just makes you want to be a part of it.

"It gives you so much aspiration to get to that stage of your career. I'll be trying my guts out to do that."




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