275 DELIVERIES, 16 FOURS, 1 SIX
ENGLAND V AUSTRALIA, 3RD TEST, OLD TRAFFORD, 2005
England 444 (Vaughan 166; Warne 4-99, Lee 4-100)& 280-6dec (Strauss 106; McGrath 5-115) drew with Australia 302 (Warne 90; Jones 6-53) & 371-9 (Ponting 156; Flintoff 4-71)
OPPOSITION ATTACK: Steve Harmison, Matthew Hoggard, Ashley Giles, Andrew Flintoff, Simon Jones
And so of all the Australian masterworks of the 21st Century, here lies the winner. One man’s refusal to buckle in the face of appalling and quite unexpected English rampancy. Perhaps it doesn’t quite ring true, until we consider that Ponting had it good for much of his career – working with the best of conditions to build the body of work to make him the finest post-war Australian batsman – and that the truest mark of his greatness could only be revealed when suddenly the going got rough.
On an overcast Monday in Manchester, on a very dry pitch, with 10,000 people locked outside the ground and Flintoff and Harmison exploring the middle of the pitch, the captain just played his natural game, pulling Fred for six early on, ticking over throughout, and even at one stage thinking of potentially winning it. In all his seven hours at the crease, he never gave a chance. He was out with four overs to go. “I walked off thinking I’d lost the game for my country.” He hadn’t. It was the day English audiences fell for their old adversary.
‘THIS IS INCREDIBLE’
As a young batter, as much as I wanted to get him out, I just stood there and admired it. It was an unbelievable hundred. I’d watched Ricky Ponting as a young boy and I was thinking, ‘Wow, this is incredible. I’m just so lucky’. He kept his side in the game.
Kevin Pietersen, AOC 131