x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Ponting jeers are all part of the Ashes, says North

The Australian batting hero plays down the significance of the booing directed by England fans towards skipper Ricky Ponting.

Australian batting hero Marcus North has played down the significance of the booing directed by England fans towards skipper Ricky Ponting and insisted: "It is part and parcel of the game now." Ponting has been targeted by sections of England fans ever since he accused Andrew Strauss' team of time-wasting to save the first Ashes Test at Cardiff.

But North believes the treatment handed out to Ponting is no different to what England players experience in series against Australia Down Under. And the 34-year-old Ponting still received a standing ovation when he became the highest Australian run-scorer in Test cricket, overtaking Allan Border, during the drawn third Test at Edgbaston. North, who scored 96 in Australia's second innings, said: "A lot of us get booed out there. That is the home ground advantage I guess.

"The atmosphere when playing Test cricket here is great even though, without a doubt, the crowd is into us. When England come and play in Australia, it is exactly the same for them so it is part and parcel of the game now. "The atmosphere is great and it is a pleasure to walk out and play Test cricket in front of 20,000 England supporters who actually appreciate the cricket that is being played." North followed up his century in Cardiff by helping Michael Clarke in the decisive partnership which blunted England's hopes of going 2-0 up in the series.

He fell only four runs short of equalling Sir Don Bradman, Arthur Morris and Michael Hussey in becoming only the fourth Australian to score three centuries in their first five Tests. North said: "Obviously it was very disappointing not to get the extra four runs, but very satisfying to have that partnership with Michael Clarke which puts us all in a positive mood for what lies ahead after drawing the game."

Meanwhile, Ponting says his team will take great heart from their performance in claiming a draw at Edgbaston. "I've always said about Australian teams that when we're faced with adversity that we play our best cricket," he said. Ponting also revealed that Brett Lee, who was back in the Asutralia squad yesterday, could return in time for Friday's fourth Test after stepping up his rehabilitation following a rib injury. He added: "Brett has done a lot of bowling this week."

Clarke, the Australia vice-captain, will miss training today with a minor abdominal strain that he picked up at Edgbaston. * With agencies