Ponting hails ‘relentless’ bowlers as Australia retain Ashes

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MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Sept 9, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – Former Australia
captain Ricky Ponting said on Sunday that the tourists’ “relentless” bowlers
deserve as much credit for retaining the Ashes as Steve Smith.

The world’s top-ranked Test batsman, Smith has been in superb form this
Ashes with 671 runs, including three hundreds, at an average of 134.20.

Smith made a commanding 211 in Australia’s 185-run victory in the fourth
Test at Old Trafford, a result that left them 2-1 up with just one to play
ahead of next week’s finale at The Oval.

But Ponting — twice a losing Ashes series captain in England in 2005 and
2009 — insisted the bowlers’ efforts should not be ignored.

“I think they (Australia) should have had a bigger lead, not just on the
back of Steve Smith,” Ponting, one of the best batsmen of his generation,
told Sky Sports.

“Everyone is talking about what impact he has had, but the whole bowling
department has been absolutely outstanding. Look at the difference in the
bowling attacks in this game.

“(Mitchell) Starc, (Pat) Cummins, (Josh) Hazlewood and (Nathan) Lyon, match
that up with the England attack. There were more holes in that England attack
than the Australia one.

“They were relentless in everything they did.”

Meanwhile, ex-England skipper Nasser Hussain said Australia deserved to
keep the Ashes.

That England took the game into the final hour of Sunday’s last day before
being dismissed for 197, having been none for two after Cummins took two
wickets in two balls, said much about their resolve.

But Hussain, the last England captain to fail to win an Ashes series on
home soil in 2001, said the hosts could have no complaints given they had
lost the opener by 251 runs and then only drawn level thanks to Ben Stokes’s
stunning century that secured a one-wicket win in the third Test at
Headingley.

“There has been progress,” said Hussain.

“You can’t fault the character and resilience of this England side. Other
England sides would have just crumbled in a heap.

“But the problem is they often find themselves 10 for two, 20 for two.

“Against certain sides you can come back from that, but from nought for two
last night against this Australian attack, you can’t come back from that.”

“Let’s be honest, if England had gone to The Oval at 1-1, I think it would
have been a travesty,” he added.

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