LONDON // Ricky Ponting, the Australia captain England fans love to hate, earned a heartfelt round of applause from the Lord's crowd after declining to blame the several decisions that went against his side and admitting his team were outplayed in the second Test. Ponting endured a miserable match in his final Test outing at the home of cricket.
He dropped Ravi Bopara at slip, missed the chance to run out Kevin Pietersen, saw three of his batsman dismissed by contentious decisions in the second innings and was incorrectly given out caught behind in the first innings, denying him the chance to see his name etched on to the honours board for the first time. However, he was generous in defeat. "They [the decisions] are all irrelevant now," said Ponting who would probably have laughed had it been suggested that his side would find themselves one-nil down in the series after reducing England to 159 for seven at one stage in their second innings at Cardiff.
"At the end of the day we've been beaten by more than 100 runs in a Test match" he added. "We can't change anything that happened. England have been the better side from the first ball - and not only in the big moments. We just have to bounce back now. I have full confidence in my guys. We are going to bounce back quickly. "There is still plenty of cricket to play in this series. "We were outplayed for the majority of this game, from the first morning up until late up in day three. The way we fought back was a really good sign. To score 400 in the last innings was pleasing."
The second-innings performance of Michael Clarke, who was exposed by England's pace attack and struggled with the seaming and swinging conditions in 2005, was a major plus for Ponting and offered encouragement for the remainder of the series. Clarke survived a stern examination at the hands of an inspired Andrew Flintoff to compile an exquisite 136 and said: "When Flintoff is bowling like that he is as good as anybody I have faced in my career."