England, PTI
England, PTI

Ricky Ponting, the former Australia captain criticized England’s team selections in Brisbane and Adelaide, accusing the tourists of constantly planning ahead without focusing on the game in front of them. England’s Ashes 2021/22 campaign was doomed for failure right from their team selection for the first Test, believes Ricky Ponting.

Speaking after the tourists’ embarrassing innings defeat at Melbourne ensured that the series was finished as a live contest before even reaching its middle day, the former Australia captain accused England’s decision-makers of overthinking their big calls to such an extent that they ended up snookering themselves.

Ricky Ponting. Photo Credit: Getty Images.
Ricky Ponting. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

Ricky Ponting Was Surprised By The Fact That Either Of James Anderson And Stuart Broad Didn’t Play In Brisbane

Recalling the opening Test at Brisbane, for which there was a poor weather forecast and a green pitch, as well as a little history of spinners playing a key role, England opted for spinner Jack Leach over experienced pacer Stuart Broad, while leaving out highest wicket-taker pacer James Anderson as a precaution to have him ready for the day-night Test in Adelaide.

James Anderson told reporters after his four-wicket haul at the MCG that he had been “fit for that game”. It was just the third time in 169 matches that England had gone into a Test without either of their great legendary fast bowlers.

“They’ve out-thought themselves with their selections for Brisbane, looking forward to Adelaide and then looking forward to the MCG,” said Ricky Ponting, analysing the series.

James Anderson, Stuart Broad (Credits : Twitter)
James Anderson, Stuart Broad (Credits: Twitter)

“Pick your best team from the start and then see how far that group can take you. The fact that Anderson and Broad didn’t play in Brisbane is staggering,” said Ricky Ponting.

Once selecting Mark Wood, Chris Woakes, and Ollie Robinson as their seam attack – alongside Ben Stokes, in his first competitive red-ball game for England since March after a significant spell out of the game – they won the toss in overcast conditions but chose to bat first. Rory Burns was bowled round his legs by Mitchell Starc to the first delivery of the series, which set a grisly tone for all that has followed.

“The fact that Joe Root didn’t bowl first in Brisbane was staggering,” added Ricky Ponting. “The fact that Mark Wood didn’t play in Adelaide was staggering. He looked like one of the most likely bowlers up in Brisbane.”

Mark Wood was a rare bright spark in a nine-wicket defeat, offering searing pace and hostility in a team otherwise absent of those qualities, with Jofra Archer and Olly Stone both missing with injuries.

But with England worried about the burden on their X-Factor fast bowler, they rested him for the pink-ball Test at Adelaide, instead of unleashing Stuart Broad and James Anderson together – both fresh after missing the opener, but also rusty because of the shortage of cricket in the build-up.

Ricky Ponting Reckons England To Plan Well In Future

For the second time this year – following a similarly galling defeat at Ahmedabad in India tour – they had drastically misjudged the conditions of a Day-Night Test. Jack Leach, taken down by Australia’s left-handers at Brisbane in the 1st Test, was left out despite the 2nd Test’s Adelaide Oval’s curator publicly warning them that not selecting a spinner would be a serious error.

Ollie Robinson ended up bowling off-spin, while Dawid Malan unfurled his part-time leg-breaks. Jack Leach and Mark Wood watched on from the sidelines.

Jack Leach Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian
Jack Leach Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Ricky Ponting said: “All their planning, their thoughts, and their structures have just been completely wrong, and it’s come back to bite them. There’s no good looking forward from Brisbane if you’re going to be one or two-nil down. And that’s what it was: they planned for Melbourne – already being two-nil down, they’ve come here and been pantsed again. So, they’ve got some really, really deep thinking to do.”

Jack Leach, a hero from Headingley in 2019, was treated with contempt in the first Test by Australia’s batsmen and went for 1-102. The decision to drop the experienced spinner for the next Test came back to bite them in Adelaide where they went in without a spinner on what proved a turning wicket. He could only bowl 13 overs because he conceded 102 runs in them at a staggering economy rate of 7.8 in the 1st Ashes Test.

Joe Root’s men were the fastest to surrender the Urn after they were skittled out for a meagre 68 on day 3 of the third Test to lose the match by an innings and 14 runs. England had lost the first two Tests by nine wickets and 275 runs at Brisbane and Adelaide respectively.