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Ashes: Jonathan Agnew column

Ricky Ponting argues with Aleem Dar
Ponting was incensed by Aleem Dar's decision to give Kevin Pietersen not out

Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent in Melbourne

Ricky Ponting's outburst today betrayed his current state of mind as he allowed everything to boil over and get the better of him.

Columnists and correspondents over here in Australia are starting to talk very seriously about his future as captain, his team are getting a pasting and he is in terrible form with the bat.

But his reaction to the umpire's decision was entirely inexcusable. You simply cannot behave like that.

There was no possible reason for him having a go at the on-field umpires and he fully deserved to be fined 40% of his match fee.

The whole incident - when Kevin Pietersen was given not out by umpire Aleem Dar following a caught behind appeal - was strange in that only Brad Haddin appealed. And it was Haddin who persuaded Ponting to call for the review, which the umpire gave not out.

There was a tiny Hot Spot mark on the bottom of Pietersen's bat but it was not where the ball had passed. Maybe Ponting saw that and was arguing about it. But umpire Dar pointed out that the ball passed halfway up the blade, and he was quite right.

I've always felt that with the review system you have to show it on the big screen so people watching live can see it. It does not seem right to me that people pay the entrance money are denied seeing what people at home get for free on their televisions.

But I'm having second thoughts about that because Ponting clearly made his mind up based on what he saw on the big screen.

The ICC has been reluctant to put replays on the big screens for that very reason. You can imagine the uproar if Sachin Tendulkar were given out in Mumbai but the crowd did not like what they saw on the screen.

Tom Fordyce Blog
Former Australia captain Ian Chappell

The incident did not add to Ponting's humour on a day when everything seemed to go England's way.

Jonathan Trott escaped being run out by one frame and Matt Prior was caught behind off a no-ball - all of those things combined to leave a rather bitter taste in Australia's mouths. But it is the way things are going for England, and you do make your own luck.

They were all entirely correct decisions.

It was another great day for England, with the only blot on the landscape being Paul Collingwood. You can forgive Ian Bell playing one rash shot because he has played beautifully all series but Collingwood's form is clearly a big concern.

I suspect they will probably keep him in the team in Sydney but it will be a big game for him. He will be playing for his immediate future.

Meanwhile, Trott showed wonderful discipline, focus and determination. He is not the prettiest batsman to watch but he is mighty efficient. Someone had to go out today and make a big hundred and he took it on himself to do just that.

England knew exactly what they had to do today - they have been so well organised throughout the series apart from the Perth Test match which was clearly an aberration.

And a superb partnership between Trott and Matt Prior has firmly shut the door on Australia. They have no chance of getting back and you would expect them to suffer a very heavy defeat.

The only disappointment from a neutral point of view is that the Melbourne Test has not been much of a contest and that has had an impact on the attendances.

Australians don't take poor performances very well. On the first day, it was a massive crowd but half of them walked out midway through the afternoon. And today numbers were down.

It seems a bit odd saying this but for summer it is very cold here. Temperatures have been down at around 13 degrees with a biting wind. It is not much fun sitting in a big ground like that with virtually no sunshine, freezing to death.

The conditions are not ideal for watching cricket but it is a shame for the match.

I think we could be in for a similar situation to the Gabba where there are more England supporters in the ground than Australians by the end of this match.

Jonathan Agnew was speaking to BBC Sport's Sam Sheringham.


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see also
Justin Langer column
27 Dec 10 |  Cricket
Ponting hit with fine after row
27 Dec 10 |  Australia
Trott ton stretches England lead
27 Dec 10 |  England
Form down to hard graft - Trott
27 Dec 10 |  England
Monday's Ashes gossip column
27 Dec 10 |  Cricket
Fourth Ashes Test day two in photos
27 Dec 10 |  England
England dominate woeful Aussies
26 Dec 10 |  England
England in Australia 2010-11
08 Oct 09 |  Cricket
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket


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