Ponting fires salvo at ECB

March 20th, 2009 - 9:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Bryce McGain Sydney, March 20 (IANS) Australian skipper Ricky Ponting has accused the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) of stopping Australian Ashes hopefuls from joining the county teams.
Comeback paceman Stuart Clark and tyro opener Phil Hughes have signed county contracts to get some match practice before the Ashes series.

Clark will join Kent as he steps up his return from elbow surgery, while batting sensation Hughes will play with Middlesex.

With the touring party likely to feature players untried in England like Ben Hilfenhaus, Peter Siddle and Bryce McGain, it’s important that Australia settle quickly when they arrive in the Old Dart.

But the move has drawn howls of protest from England, with former players and leading officials saying Australia are being handed an advantage.

“We are giving two players the opportunity to use our conditions… and get match practice after injury,” England selector Geoff Miller complained.

“I cannot imagine Australia would do something reciprocal before we go over there next time or any time. I want England and the counties to work as closely as possible and this does not make the relationship closer.”

Ponting said he was bemused why England were making such a fuss.

“It will help them (Hughes and Clark) for the fact that they will get to play some cricket and probably get a good amount of cricket under their belt,” Ponting was quoted as saying in Daily Telegraph.

“I am not sure they’ll learn too much about themselves or about the England Test team, though, by playing those few county games that they’re going to play.”

Ponting said Australian players have been using county cricket as a warm-up throughout history and English players travelled overseas to do the same.

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