'Staggering': Ricky Ponting slams England over 'unacceptable' act

Riley Morgan
Sports Reporter

Australian great Ricky Ponting has questioned the tactics of England after a strong display from the Aussies at Old Trafford on Day Four of the fourth Test.

Smith and Pat Cummins, the world's top-ranked batsman and bowler, lived up to their mantle on Saturday to bust the contest open as their side stalked a 2-1 series lead.

But prior to tea the match was in the balance on Day Four when brilliant spells from Stuart Broad (2-54) and Jofra Archer (3-45) left the AUssies reeling at 4-64 with a lead of 259 runs.

But after tea, captain Joe Root insisted on bowling bowling Craig Overton and Jack Leach, despite the two quicks tearing the Australian batting line-up apart.

Steve Smith and Matthew Wade took advantage of the move and put on a 105 fifth wicket partnership and guided Australia to a strong lead before declaring.

Ricky Ponting was baffled at Joe Root and England's tactics after tea on Day Four. (Getty Images)

Ponting said he was baffled at the decision to try and smother the Aussies when they were struggling.

"I was extremely surprised at England's tactics after tea. To not start with one of Archer or Broad for me was staggering,” Ponting told Cricket.com.au.

"I think the most important phase of play for England was the first hour after tea and they decided to go with Overton and Leach, and I know Overton only bowled three overs but it just seemed to quieten the whole crowd down and it gave Smith a chance to get in and get settled and start again.

"I think they bowled six overs in 40 minutes. You'd have to say it's unacceptable to bowl seven-minute overs."

Ponting went on to say Australia don’t need to be spooked with a repeat of Headingley with the pitch at Old Trafford deteriorating into Day 5.

Smith does it again

Fresh from his astonishing double century in the first innings at Old Trafford, Smith again proved the thorn in England's side in the second innings.

With batsmen falling around him - including David Warner for a second duck in the match - Smith took the match by the scruff of the neck.

Steve Smith of Australia bats during Day Four of the 4th Ashes Test between England and Australia at Old Trafford on September 07, 2019 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

Having rolled England for 301 and with a first innings lead of 196, Smith belted 82 runs (off 92 balls) to well and truly put the match out of England's reach.

Incredibly, it was Smith ninth consecutive Ashes half century, seeing the former skipper break his own record.

Smith's latest display of mastery with the willow had fans gushing with admiration for a man described by many as the best batsman since Don Bradman.