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Ricky Ponting on Root’s length frustration: ‘If you can’t influence your bowlers on what length to bowl, what are you doing on the field?’

Root Ponting
by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Ricky Ponting has criticised Joe Root for failing to influence his own bowlers, questioning his credentials as skipper after the England captain complained that his side did not bowl the right lengths in their 275-run defeat to Australia in the second Ashes Test.

After the game, Root admitted that he wanted his attack to bowl fuller, lamenting that the team had made the same mistakes as the 2017/18 Ashes when England suffered a 4-0 defeat at the hands of the hosts.

“I don’t think we bowled the right lengths,” Root said after the game. “If we’re being brutally honest, we needed to bowl fuller.

“As soon as we did in that second innings, we created chances. We need to do that more, we need to be a bit braver, get the ball up there a bit further because when we do, we’re going to create chances and make life difficult.

“That’s one of the frustrating things because it’s something we did four years ago and got it wrong and we didn’t learn from it. We made the same mistakes last week [in Brisbane, first Test] – we just have to be better and we’ve got to learn those lessons very quickly.”

Responding to his post-defeat comments, Ponting asked why Root was the England skipper if he couldn’t influence his own bowlers on what lengths to bowl.

“I nearly fell off my seat when I heard that,” Ponting told cricket.com.au. “Whose job is it then to make them change? Why are you captain then?

“If you can’t influence your bowlers on what length to bowl, what are you doing on the field?”

Australia went up 2-0 in the series with a comprehensive win in Adelaide, built on a solid 473-run foundation in the first innings. In both innings, Australia declared from a position of strength, leaving England’s bowlers to play catch-up.

Ponting said that the result could have been different if Root had been assertive enough to get his bowlers bowling as he wanted, saying that the skipper should have intervened early on day one itself, before the Australian line-up did the bulk of the damage.

“Joe Root can come back and say whatever he likes but if you’re captain, you’ve got to be able to sense when your bowlers aren’t bowling where you want them to,” said Ponting. “And if they’re not going to listen, you take them off, simple as that.

“Give someone else a chance that is going to do it for you. Or you have a really strong conversation with them on the field to tell them what you need. That’s what captaincy is all about.”

“Regardless of whether they have taken 1,150 wickets between them – well, too bad.

“‘I need you to bowl differently here to how you bowl in England, I need you to bowl differently to how you bowled four years ago, and if you’re not willing to do it then I’ll find someone that can’ – that should have been the conversation five overs into day one.

“If they had that [conversation] maybe the result could have been different.”

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