'Fletcher is a very irrelevant person in my life'

'Fletcher is a very irrelevant person in my life'

Verbal volleys

'Fletcher is a very irrelevant person in my life'

Ricky Ponting

"I have been a bit blown away by all the fuss over my comments on England's physio and 12th man in Cardiff," Ponting wrote in the Daily Telegraph. "As I tried to explain that night, I was disappointed when they came back out on to the field for a second time, but it had no bearing on the game. Now it seems as if we're all talking about that one little incident, when we've just witnessed one of the great climaxes to a Test match. "It's all done and dusted, it was over within a couple of minutes, and the players have all moved on." England sent on their 12th man twice in two overs as well as their physio as tailenders James Anderson and Monty Panesar held out for a draw.

Captain Andrew Strauss said it was merely to convey messages to the batsmen and that there had been no time wasting. Ponting, using the classic Australian put-down, described it as "pretty ordinary." Former England coach Duncan Fletcher took issue with that and wrote in Wednesday's Guardian: "Ponting has to be careful. Someone needs to sit down and ask him what he understands by the spirit of the game. The way he plays is definitely not in the spirit."

Ponting described Fletcher as "a very irrelevant person in my life and probably in the cricket world at the moment. "In recent years our record of players being reported or stepping over the line in international cricket has probably been as good as anyone's."
Others were not so keen to let the tourists off the hook.

"Had the words been spoken by just about anyone else on Planet Cricket, they might have carried some weight, but from the diminutive Aussie they smack of crass hypocrisy," wrote Matthew Syed in The Times. "This is a man who has turned slow play into an art form. Australia have been fined 33 times for slow play since 1995: 20 of them under Ponting's captaincy and eight times since the start of 2008. "This is a man whose attempts to put pressure on umpires has become so sustained, insistent and aggressive that it has started to cause concern at the highest levels of the game. "This is a man who has been fined six times for breaches of the ICC Code of Conduct (in addition to the fines for time-wasting). "Had the positions been reversed, we know what would have happened. Ponting would not merely have sent on the 12th man and the physio; he would have dispatched the batting coach, the doctor and the team toe-nail cutter.

"Hell, he would have sent out Dame Edna, Rolf Harris, the cast of Home and Away and Skippy the bush kangaroo if he thought he would have got away with it."

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