Ponting waited a long time for this ton - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Ponting waited a long time for this ton

By Adam Cooper 23/11/2006 08:55:05 PM Comments (0)

Ricky Ponting made a century that was 14 months in the waiting to steer Australia to a massive advantage over an England side struck down by Ashes jitters on day one of the first Test at the Gabba.

The captain's magical, unbeaten 137 equalled the record for the most Test centuries by an Australian and with his side in a stronghold at 3-346, heaped the pressure on England to respond in its Ashes defence after a hellish day reminiscent of the disaster of four years ago.

Ponting's hundred was his 32nd, equalling the record set by his predecessor Steve Waugh, and continued his astonishing run since Australia lost the Ashes in 2005.

No Australian has worn the noose of the that defeat tougher than Ponting, and his five-hour gem, studded with crisp pulls and lavish drives through the on-side, was his ninth ton since the tour of England, his seventh in eight Tests and a third straight in Brisbane.

Opener Justin Langer was also up for the occasion with a brilliant 82, while Mike Hussey (63 not out) shared a 148-run stand with his captain and showed no nerves on his Ashes debut.

If only England's players had the same constitution.

Fast bowler Steve Harmison was so antsy he delivered the first ball of the series to second slip, and, not helped by a lack of swing, England's bowlers were ground into the Gabba.

Harmison, who made such an impact on day one of the 2005 series, saw his first spell last only two overs at a cost of 17 runs, and with figures of 0-52 from 12 overs captain Andrew Flintoff could not afford to risk his mate after tea.

Flintoff took England's first two wickets, and given Harmison's struggles, Matthew Hoggard's AWOL swing and James Anderson's fodder, the tourists might have to rely on their skipper this series even more than first thought.

His counterpart Ponting closed the gap on century record holder Sachin Tendulkar (35) and fellow Indian Sunil Gavaskar (34), and the West Indies' Brian Lara (34) and celebrated his three figures amid a thunderous roar from a capacity crowd of 39,288.

Despite his jubilation, he later tried to play down the significance of scoring a big one against the team which took Australia's Ashes.

"Don't read too much into it, it had nothing to do with last series," he said.

"It's all about being able to get out there and do it today and being able to start the series off on a good note - that's what I was excited about.

"My wife flew up last night to be here for the game ... it's a good start for us all after a long time and we're looking forward to hopefully pushing home that advantage tomorrow."

Ponting said he and his teammates recognised England's nerves straight after ball one, but he expected the tourists to bounce back and for Harmison and Flintoff to remain constant threats throughout the series.

"They haven't had a great day today but that happens quite a lot in Test cricket," he said.

"You can have an ordinary day and you can have a brilliant start tomorrow and the game can be turned around."

Spinner Ashley Giles, who celebrated playing his first Test in a year with the wicket of Damien Martyn (29), admitted the butterflies were rife throughout the England camp given the build-up.

"I'm surprised my first ball bounced to be honest," said Giles, who finished with 1-51, after he was preferred over Monty Panesar.

"Steve went to second slip and we were all pretty tense.

"The bus was a quiet place this morning.

"We've all been there before ... this side doesn't lay down, so I'm sure we'll be back in the morning, coming out fighting."

England's blushes were reminiscent of its 2002 horrors, when Australia raced to 2-364 and Simon Jones wrecked his knee after it plugged in the outfield.

Today Kevin Pietersen sent a scare through the tourists when he too hurt his knee when it plugged in the field - he was uninjured - and at least Flintoff lost the toss (Nasser Hussain won it and bowled in 2002).

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2024 AAP

0 Comments about this article

Post a comment about this article

Please sign in to leave a comment.
Becoming a member is free and easy, sign up here.

« All sports news