Recently, Ricky Ponting confessed that Andrew Flintoff’s over in the 2nd Ashes Test 2005 was the best over he has ever faced in his cricketing career. The confession came as response to the video shared by England Cricket on the 10th of April, amidst lockdown in the wake of ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Following the confession, the former Australian captain was barraged with some bouncers (read questions) on twitter. He hooked many of these in his flamboyant style and conceded that Shoaib Akhtar’s spell at Perth in 1999 was the fastest bowling spell he had ever faced in his career.
However, twitterati reminded Punter of Indian pacer Ishant Sharma who had torment him on India’s 2008 tour down under and especially of the fourth morning of 3rd test in Perth, “when Ishant made Pointing his bunny.”
Here’s a look at all of these overs
Shoaib Akhtar’s Fiery Spell
Shoaib Akhtar was at its fiery best in the early years of his career. Batsmen found him too hot handle on the slowest of wickets. Now imagine him bowling in a pacers paradise like Perth, fabled for its pace and bounce.
During the 3rd Test on Pakistan’s tour to Australia in 1999, just two years after Shoaib Akhtar’s debut, he bowled the spell which “Punter” reckons as the fastest bowling spell his has ever faced.
Shoaib started his spell with four consecutive no balls. As he was screaming through the pitch, Wasim Akram walked up to him and asked him to relax and take his time. Followed the first legitimate ball of the over at 149.1 kmph.
The next ball was a half-volley at a whopping pace of 152.7 kmph. But was driven straight past the bowler for a boundary by Ponting. The average speed of the first over was 148.52 kmph.
The following over’s average speed was 147.74 kmph. The fifth ball of the over was bowled right outside the off stump. Ponting thought of playing the delivery but the pace and the bounce was forced him to let go of the ball at the last moment. He dropped his shoulder, the ball clipped his shoulder on its way to the wicker keeper.
Shoaib was consistent through the third over as well. Ponting in an interview told Cricket Australia that he would try and get into position to hit Shoaib for a pull or a hook shot but the ball would cross him quicker than he expected.
Andrew Flintoff’s Class Reverse Swing Spell
During the 2nd Ashes Test at Edgbaston in 2005, Australia had begun well, 47 for no loss, chasing a target of 282.
Michael Vaughn desperately needed a wicket and turned to Andrew Flintoff, who had taken 3 wickets in the last innings. As he took the ball, he was on a hat-trick. Justin Langer defended the first ball of the over.
Flintoff bowled Langer off the second delivery as the ball shattered the stumps after hitting his elbow. Flintoff had now taken 3 wickets in his last 4 balls.
Ponting walked in and the third ball rocked his pad as the whole Edgbaston appealed but it was too high for an LBW. The fourth ball took an edge and fell short of the man at gully.
The fifth ball was a sharp off cutter that banged the pads and the whole crowd appealed once again but was given not out as the impact was outside off. By this time, Flintoff has successfully changed the whole atmosphere around the ground.
The sixth ball was a no- ball and it left alone by Ponting as it was way past the off stump. The last ball was a big leg cutter, as Ponting tried to drive it past the bowler, it moved away from his bat and just kissed the bat on its way to the wicket keeper’s gloves. Ponting was out for a duck.
Flintoff had now taken 4 wickets in the last 8 balls of the Test match. He took two crucial wickets from the first over of his spell as he moved the ball both ways with fierce pace. The match went down to the wire. Finally, Australia lost the match just by 2 runs and England went on to win the Ashes.
When Ishant Sharma Made Ricky Ponting His Bunny
Ricky Ponting lead Australia were on a 16-match winning run and had gone 2-0 up in the 2008 Border-Gavaskar Trophy in the run up to Perth Test. At Perth, Australia had an incredible record of being invincible in the last decade.
Indian batters had played with purpose and set a daunting 413 run target for the hosts. Ishant Sharma, who had recently become a part of the Indian squad, was brought in to ball at when Australia were 90/2.
Ishant had got better of Ricky Ponting in the first innings when he failed to understand his variations. Ishant rattled the Australian captain as he bowled a huge in-swinger that struck the pads. Following a huge appeal, the umpire gave it not out as hawk eye showed the ball was clipping the top of the stump.
The next ball was another in-swinger, Ponting moved to the off stump and left the ball alone as the ball slapped his pads on its way to Dhoni. Another huge appeal, but it was turned down as the ball did not come back enough to hit the stumps.
When Australia were 113/2, after half a dozen really close chances, Ishant was asked whether he’d like to bowl another over? He answered in affirmative, took the ball and walked up to his run up.
He bowled a full-length delivery swinging in to the stumps as Ponting took his left leg outside the line of the stumps and did not offer a shot. After a huge appeal, the umpire decided to not give Ponting out. Hawk-eye showed that the ball was going on to hit the top half of off stump. He should’ve been given out.
Ishant went back to his run up and set Ponting up by bowling a perfect length, a perfect ball. After numerous in-swinging deliveries, he bowled a length ball that kept straight. Ricky Ponting pushed hard at the ball trying to play a drive on the up, but only managed to edge the ball to Rahul Dravid in the first slip.
Of all the three, which do you feel was the best spell that you have seen Ricky Ponting face in his career? Do let us know in the comment section.
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