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CRICKET: I'M SO SORRY; Ponting's apology after his outburst over England sub.

RICKY PONTING last night made a public apology for blowing his top after being run out by a substitute fielder.

The Aussie skipper dropped hints that England were indulging in gamesmanship over the use of the 12th man. But Ponting still said sorry for launching a bitter outburst after Gary Pratt ran him out on 48. The sub was on for seamer Simon Jones who went off injured after bagging his second five-wicket haul of the series.

Australia were forced to follow on for the first time since England last held the Ashes and closed the third day on 222 for four, still 37 runs in arrears.

The Aussies have been concerned by England's 12th-man policy - using fielding specialists instead of the traditional bowler.

And Ponting let rip at Michael Vaughan's team as they huddled in celebration after taking his wicket. He then said something to coach Duncan Fletcher on the home balcony.

After his dismissal from a direct hit by one of domestic cricket's best fielders Ponting said: "I am very disappointed with my dismissal given it was at a crucial stage of the game and I had worked really hard.

"I let myself down and for that I apologise to those who view me as a role model.

"My frustration at getting out was combined with the disappointment of a run-out by a substitute fieldsman - an issue that has concerned us from the start of the summer."

Fletcher claimed he could not hear what Ponting had to say due to "the crowd going ballistic at that stage."

But he defended England's policy of allowing their bowling attack - that had knocked Australia over for 218 thanks to Jones' five for 44 - to rehydrate while bringing on young agile subs.

He said: "We try to get someone who is not playing first class cricket, usually from a county who are having a rest.

"We have had Gary around as 12th man on numerous occasions.

"In the modern game you have to take on a lot of fluids. You have to come off to relieve yourself of those."

Opener Justin Langer, who struck a half century, shared Ponting's frustration.

He said: "In cricket there are great traditions, particularly in Test matches. As long as I have played the game the 12th man is one of the bowlers.

"But Englishmen are much more intelligent than Australians - you only have to look at the Barmy Army - and it's no surprise they've come up with this before us


Ponting: On the ropes
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 28, 2005
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