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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 November 2006, 13:49 GMT
Ashes hero turns to football
By Caroline Cheese

Gary Pratt celebrates with his England team-mates after running out Australia captain Ricky Ponting at Trent Bridge
Ricky Ponting is absolute quality - he's a great bloke
Gary Pratt
As Ricky Ponting put England to the sword with an imperious century on day one of the Ashes series, how the visitors could have done with a sharp-eyed fielder at cover to throw down his stumps.

Unfortunately, Gary Pratt, who achieved cult hero status in 2005 by running out the Aussie captain at Trent Bridge, was fast asleep at his home in Durham as England got their Ashes campaign off to an inauspicious start.

The 24-year-old was exhausted after playing for Crook Town FC against Seaham Red Star in Thursday evening's Arngrove Northern League Division Two game.

Pratt has turned to football to keep in shape after he was released by county side Durham in August.

"I didn't really fancy running so I thought I'd go and train with the local football team - then I ended up playing," he told BBC Sport.

"I'm a striker usually but I've played in midfield recently. We won the first three games but we've had a bit of a, um, dry patch recently and lost the last four."

Pratt was a trainee with Sheffield Wednesday in his teens, but at 16 decided to focus on cricket and he remains hopeful that he will sign for another county before the season starts in March.

And while he may not have sat up and watched the action, Pratt was not surprised to be woken with the news that Ponting had inspired a dominant display from the hosts on day one at the Gabba.

"It didn't surprise me at all - he's absolutely quality," said Pratt.

Gary Pratt (centre) celebrates England's Ashes win with Michael Vaughan (left) and Andrew Flintoff (right)
Pratt was treated a national hero after his sub's role
"I kind of knew something like that was going to happen in the first Test - that he would do something special."

After his dismissal, a clearly rattled Ponting accused England of exploiting the rules to use specialist fielders like Pratt and the campaign to have Pratt flown down under for the current series could get added momentum after the Australian captain's display on Thursday.

"I've had a few phone calls saying 'don't you wish you were out there'. It could cause a stir," said Pratt.

"The Barmy Army were looking for a sponsor to take me out there and it still might happen. I'd definitely go - who wouldn't?"

But Pratt has nothing but praise for Ponting, who gave the England man his boots after the final Test at The Oval.

"I'd had a few drinks so I was being quite cheeky asking for them but when you've had a few you just get a bit daring don't you?

"I just picked them up and I was having a look and thinking 'wow look at these'. They've got 'Ashes 2005' stiched into the tongue and I think they're the only pair that was made or something.

"He just said I could take them home if I wanted. He's a great bloke."

England suffer as Ponting shines
23 Nov 06 |  The Ashes
Durham release Ashes hero Pratt
25 Aug 06 |  Durham
Pratt the unlikely hero
16 Sep 05 |  Cricket
Pratt for the Ashes!
28 Jul 06 |  The Ashes
Ponting slams England sub policy
29 Aug 05 |  The Ashes
Substitute row mars Ashes series
28 Aug 05 |  The Ashes


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