Enormous pressure is building on Ricky Ponting, and Australia’s captain was fortunate to escape with only a fine of 40 per cent of his match fee after openly questioning the umpires in the Melbourne Test.
There is no excuse for Ponting’s behaviour, after the third umpire told standing umpire Aleem Dar that Kevin Pietersen had not touched a ball from Peter Siddle through to keeper Brad Haddin.
The technology clearly showed that the ball had not hit the inside edge of Pietersen’s bat, and that the hot spot on the bottom of the bat was caused by it hitting the front pad – long after the ball had passed through to Haddin.
Of course, Australia were perfectly entitled to ask for the original decision of not out to be reviewed, but the reaction of Ponting and some of his players to the ‘not out’ verdict being verified was appalling.
The umpires had made their considered decision – and entirely correctly, though that in itself is not really the point – and it is the players’ duty to accept that decision and get on with the game.
As it was, the action was held up for several minutes while Ponting remonstrated with both Dar and Tony Hill, his colleague out in the middle.
It looks, indeed, as if things are getting right on top of Ricky. He is badly out of form with the bat, the Australians’ victory in Perth in the third Test – which dragged them back to 1-1 in the series – already seems like a mirage, and England are in a wonderful position at the end of day two to go on and clinch the win here at the MCG which would retain the Ashes.
More and more people are already beginning to question Ponting’s position as captain beyond this series, and perhaps his behaviour during the Pietersen incident betrays his own fragile state of mind.