Shane Warne slams Ricky Ponting for Ashes 2005 “shocker”
Shane Warne was not happy with Ricky Ponting's decision to bowl against England in the second Test of the 2005 Ashes series. (Getty Image)

After his tirade on Steve Waugh, another excerpt from Shane Warne’s upcoming book has revealed how the former legspinner was miffed with Waugh’s successor, Ricky Ponting, for opting to field against England during the second Test of the legendary Ashes series of 2005. Terming Ponting’s call “the worst decision made by a captain I played under”, Warne, in another extract from No Spin, revealed how the defeat to England in that game almost resulted in a mutiny.

In what is now regarded to be one of the greatest Test series ever, Australia had hammered England by 293 runs in the first Test at Lord’s with Glenn McGrath registering figures of 5/53 and 4/29. However, heading into Birmingham, the fast bowler got injured and the surface was a lot drier than expected. Ponting made the decision to bowl first on that wicket, a move that left Warne bewildered.

“Ricky’s decision was a shocker, presumably thinking that one good morning with the ball would finish England off,” Warne wrote. “He didn’t rate the English batting and it cost him, and us. Here is the truth. Forget anything else you’ve heard or read. Ricky relied on John Buchanan’s stats, which indicated that the bowl-first, bat-last tactic at Edgbaston won more games than it lost. He looked back at the filthy weather of the previous few days, not forward, and made an assumption about the pitch having moisture in it. Wrong!

“It was a belter, an absolute road, which was to spin later in the game. He ignored McGrath’s injury because arrogance refused to let him believe England could play. The entire series was defined right there, at Edgbaston, when Ricky was blind to the cricketing facts in front of him. England were thrown a huge bone and fed from it for the rest of the series.

“I rate it as the worst decision made by a captain I played under, just topping the charts ahead of Steve Waugh when he made India follow-on [at Kolkata in 2001], because it was based on arrogance about the opposition and our own supposed invincibility, not the cricketing facts.”

Batting first, England piled 407 through half-centuries from Marcus Trescothick, Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff before attaining a 99-run first-innings lead over Australia. It was then Warne who brought Australia back in the game with 6 for 46 in the second innings to bowl England out for 182. Needing 283 to win, Australia came within striking distance of taking a 2-0 lead before Flintoff dismissed Michael Kasprowich, the last man to narrowly win the match by two runs.

Warne then went on to recall how following the loss, the then Australia coach Buchanan had the players’ desire questioned, something that nearly led to division in the team.

“On the bus on the way back to the hotel after the game, John Buchanan called a team meeting. I was like, ‘Oh no, what’s he going to say now?’,” Warne wrote. “We collected in the team room and he started with an obvious line, something like, ‘We didn’t play very well again this game.’ Yep, true, Buck. Then he said, ‘But why didn’t we play well?’ Maybe you tell us, Buck. So he did.

“It was along the lines of ‘I don’t think you blokes care enough and, playing like you are, I don’t think you’re worthy of wearing the baggy green cap.’ I could sense the rage bubbling in the room and could feel it burning inside me, but I waited for the captain, anyone, to say some-thing. Everyone sat there quietly, heads down, no-one willing to get involved. I thought, ‘To hell with this,’ stood up and said, ‘Buck, don’t you ever tell me I don’t care enough and that I’m not worthy of wearing the baggy green cap. I’ve busted my balls for a long time, so has everyone else in this room, so how about we just play and you keep your thoughts to yourself.’

Australia narrowly avoided a defeat in the third Test before finally going down to England in the fourth game at Trent Bridge. The fifth Test at the Oval resulted in a draw which meant that England had regained the Ashes after 16 years with a 2-1 win.