|Scorecard:||Australia v England|
|Event:||England in Australia 2006/07|
DateLine: 4th December 2006
Ashley Giles may have dropped the Ashes with his costly fumble to give prolific-scoring Australian captain Ricky Ponting an early life in the second Test, media said Monday.
England were in a dominant position, with high hopes of winning the match and leveling the Test series at one-all, when Ponting, on 35, lofted a pull shot off seamer Matthew Hoggard which Giles put down on the backward square leg boundary. Ponting cashed in on the dropped chance to reach 142 as the Australians moved to within 40 runs of the 352-run follow-on target in reply to England's imposing first innings of 551 for six declared at Sunday's third day stumps. Ponting became Australia's pinnacle Test centurion with his 33rd hundred and scored his 10th century in his last 13 Tests. Giles's blunder was given significant space in Australian newspapers Monday. "For all the debate which surrounded the modest bowling of spinner Ashley Giles heading into the second Test in Adelaide, it was his fielding which did England the greatest disservice yesterday," The Australian newspaper said. "Indeed, he may very well have dropped the Ashes after putting down a straightforward catch off Australia captain and century-maker Ricky Ponting. The ball tumbled to the ground and with it England's chance of closing its hands around Australia's throat." The miss came just two overs after Damien Martyn had been dismissed for 11 and would have left Australia at 78 for four on a benign pitch. "One of the reasons given for Giles being preferred to fellow left-arm finger spinner Monty Panesar was that Giles is the better fielder of the two," The Australian said. "Given that Panesar's fielding has sometimes been compared to a Monty Python sketch for its comical clumsiness, there is absolutely no guarantee that Panesar would have done any better were he in the same position." The Melbourne Age noted that little was said to Giles by his teammates after his missed chance. "England has been big on team unity in this series, but little was said to Giles now. Steve Waugh in his time might have muttered a taunt to him about dropping the Ashes," the newspaper said. "A cricket match takes days to win, a series months, a reputation years - but all of them only a fraction of a second to lose. This was one such fixed sliver of time. The erring player will argue that the proposition that a catch can decide a series is difficult to prove, but remain haunted eternally by the fact that it is impossible to disprove." The Daily Telegraph said there were warning signs for Australian cricket in the Adelaide Test. "Australia may yet come out of this slow-moving Adelaide Test with their house in order but must heed the warning signs if they are to avoid further trouble," the newspaper said. "One of the big pushes of the national selection panel this summer is to thoroughly pick apart each Test performance and doggedly attempt to improve the team - even if the sides wins. The first move should be the reinstatement of all-rounder Shane Watson from injury for the third Perth Test. Given the desperately docile state of the Perth pitch Australia need an extra bowling option. Australia's attack is getting older and, while still strong, is struggling for penetration on home wickets which have lost their zing."