'Got away from him': Ricky Ponting's truth bomb for Marcus Harris

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·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
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Former Australian Test captain Ricky Ponting says Marcus Harris let a crucial century 'get away from him' on day two of the Boxing Day Test. Pictures: Getty Images
Former Australian Test captain Ricky Ponting says Marcus Harris let a crucial century 'get away from him' on day two of the Boxing Day Test. Pictures: Getty Images

It was a case of so close yet so far for Marcus Harris in Australia's first innings in the Boxing Day Test.

Under intense pressure after failing to post a meaningful score in the first two Ashes Tests, Harris nonetheless retained the support of coach Justin Langer heading into the clash at the MCG.

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The under-siege 29-year-old looked as though he had responded though, posting his first half-century of the Ashes series, before disappointingly edging a Jimmy Anderson delivery into the slips.

Sent back to the rooms for 76, top-scoring in Australia's first innings on what has proven to be a tricky batting deck would have been cold comfort for Harris.

He faced the most balls of any batsman in the first innings by a considerable margin, but his failure to truly kick on for a century left some observers slightly disappointed.

Former Test captain Ricky Ponting was one of those, with the batting great saying after the conclusion of day two that Harris had impressed him early in his innings.

It was only after he got past 50 that Harris appeared to relax a little too much, Ponting said - unintentionally setting the stage for an impressive England fightback with the ball.

"It definitely is (his best Test innings) but it might just be one that's got away from him," Ponting said in an interview with cricket.com.au.

"He had to work so hard to get past fifty today. When he got to fifty it looked like he just relaxed a little bit. 

"There were a lot more errors after he got to fifty than there were before he got there, and he got stuck in the middle of a great spell of bowling.

"His scoring rate plummeted just before he got out and that's what Test match cricket is all about – bowlers putting pressure on batters, but also batters finding a way to combat that and still rotate the strike.

"That didn't happen there and it led to a couple of dismissals - Travis (Head) as well and then Marcus Harris soon after."

Late carnage, hosts put one hand on Ashes

Fortunately for Harris, Australia's bowling attack managed to do some serious damage with the ball after building a lead of 82 after their first innings.

Harris top-scored after the middle order largely failed to fire, with decent contributions from tailenders Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins helping extend the Australian lead.

Australia took four English scalps in the last 58 minutes of day two of the third Test to leave the tourists on the brink at 4-31, still requiring another 51 runs to make Cummins' men bat again.

Mitchell Starc (2-11) narrowly missed out on a hat-trick after his stunning spell put Australia on the verge of taking an unassailable 3-0 series advantage after 13 wickets tumbled at the MCG on Monday.

Scott Boland (2-1) backed up Starc's heroics by cleaning up opener Haseeb Hameed, then nightwatchman Jack Leach two balls later, to have the Melbourne crowd roaring for the Victorian debutant.

Star allrounder Ben Stokes had to come out and survive a painful five-minute period before stumps.

Starc dismissed opener Zak Crawley and stoic No.3 Dawid Malan in consecutive balls to leave England in an all-too familiar position.

Mitchell Starc put England well and truly on the back foot in their second innings, taking two quick wickets late on day two of the Boxing Day Test. (Photo by HAMISH BLAIR/AFP via Getty Images)
Mitchell Starc put England well and truly on the back foot in their second innings, taking two quick wickets late on day two of the Boxing Day Test. (Photo by HAMISH BLAIR/AFP via Getty Images)

Joe Root (12no) was left to face the hat-trick ball, which the England captain just avoided edging to wicketkeeper Alex Carey.

"It was absolutely bouncing...40,000 in the crowd felt like 100,000 when Starc was on the hat-trick," Australia opener Marcus Harris said.

"That was something you dream of as a kid to be a part of."

Earlier, irrepressible veteran Jimmy Anderson (4-33 from 23 overs) put in one of his best performances on Australian soil to give England an outside chance of keeping the series alive heading to Sydney.

Australia's first-innings lead of 82 paled in comparison to the first two Tests when they were 278 and 237 runs ahead respectively.

The MCG pitch is already tricky to bat on so Australia could become nervous with even a modest fourth-innings chase, but it would take something to rival Stokes' Headingley classic in 2019 to make that even a possibility.

With AAP

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