Was it not for the heroics of Paul Collingwood, James Anderson and Monty Panesar, the home side would undoubtedly be behind in the series after an anxious performance in Cardiff.
England were struggling on the lowly figure of 94 runs for 5 wickets at lunch. However the tenacious Collingwood managed to forge a partnerships with Andrew Flintoff, Greame Swann and James Anderson, producing a crucial knock.
Yet when Collingwood fell for 74, England’s numbers 10 and 11 were left with what seemed like a lengthy 40 minutes to salvage a draw from the first test. An unenviable task for Anderson and Panesar.
Collingwood’s impact was not over quite yet. Paired up with Panesar to act as his batting mentor, some of Collingwood’s obstinate batting style had clearly rubbed off on the spinner.
And come 6:30, England had miraculously survived an edgy 30 minutes and were moving closer to a draw in the match. With time to claim their final wicket slipping away, Australia were left infuriated when England’s 12th man, Bilal Shafayat, came on to the pitch to hand Anderson a new pair of gloves.
Indeed Shafayats cameo performance wasn’t over yet. At the next interval between overs, he once bounded onto the pitch, this time with a companion, the English physio.
Undoubtedly England were deploying the physio to waste some valuable seconds as they looked for the clock to chime an end to the tense test.
Speaking to the media after, it was a tactic which clearly disappointed Australian captain, Ricky Ponting.
“In the end, we were always going to be short on time once they had taken a small lead. And with a few minutes being taken up by other things, like England’s messing about with the 12th man and the physio, the clock just beat us in the end.”
He went on to say: “They can play whatever way they want to play. We have come to play by the rules and the spirit of the game and it is up to them to do what they want to do.”
Call it a lack of sportsmanship. Or call it a cunning ploy on behalf of the English team. It’s unlikely it would have affected the outcome of the match, but it does leave cricket analysts and fans with an interesting debate at the end of a thrilling first test in Cardiff.
Ex-Australian bowler Jason Gillespie on England’s ‘Timewasting’:
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