Cruelty, thy name is Ponting
Ricky Ponting declared a few overs before tea on the fourth day of the second test
at the MCG, setting South Africa a target of 366 to get in around 130 overs, a far cry from the 491 he asked them to get in a similar span of time in the first test
at the WACA
ten days ago.
Today, after Hayden and Symonds put on 120 runs in just 15 overs, Ponting started looking at the declaration. Obviously the message was sent out a few overs before the rapid fall of wickets because the two thumped a few boundaries and sixes, leaving Nicky Boje and Jacques Kallis with very admirable figures, the two conceding over five an over without a single entry in the wickets column. That last column changed for Kallis in the 83rd over of the innings when Hayden tried to pull a short one into the city's Central Business District. *
The vertical distance the ball travelled was certainly not what Hayden had in mind and Boucher had enough time to pouch the catch a few metres from the bat. One boundary later, Symonds pulled in the opposite direction and did better, reaching Nel on the boundary line. Gilchrist, whose form has been laughable of late
, obviously had watched Hayden and Symonds get out. He had spent enough time in the dressing room, on the way out to the middle and at the non-striker's end to take a decision on whose attempt he'd try to better. He picked Hayden's hoik. He definitely did better though, because his shot landed in deep square-leg's hands.
Ponting then called the batsmen in. It was as cruel a decision as you could get. With three wickets in the over, off the third, fifth and sixth balls of the over, and the tailenders batting, Kallis had a huge chance of getting a hat-trick
in his next over. It would have been South Africa's first test hat-trick since 1960, since George Griffin's at Lord's
, a match in which he was no-balled several times for chucking.
Kallis was denied the opportunity to do so because of a totally selfish declaration by Ponting. Whatever happened to the age when bowlers would push mid-off and mid-on back when a new batsman came in so that he could get off the mark?*
- I was taking artistic liberty and I hope I was right in assuming that Hayden's onside was in the direction of the CBD. Correct me if I'm wrong though :)