Legendary Australia spinner Shane Warne has slammed Ricky Ponting's decision to bowl first after winning the toss at Edgbaston in the infamous 2005 Ashes series. In fact, Warne went on to term the decision as the “worst” made by a captain he had played under.
In his new book ‘No Spin’, Warne also revealed the team's divisions as England won the thrilling Edgbaston Test by 2 runs.
"Ricky's decision was a shocker, presumably thinking that one good morning with the ball would finish England off," Warne wrote. "He didn't rate the English batting and it cost him, and us. Here is the truth. Forget anything else you've heard or read. Ricky relied on John Buchanan's stats, which indicated that the bowl-first, bat-last tactic at Edgbaston won more games than it lost. He looked back at the filthy weather of the previous few days, not forward, and made an assumption about the pitch having moisture in it. Wrong!
"It was a belter, an absolute road, which was to spin later in the game. He ignored McGrath's injury because arrogance refused to let him believe England could play. The entire series was defined right there, at Edgbaston, when Ricky was blind to the cricketing facts in front of him. England were thrown a huge bone and fed from it for the rest of the series.
"I rate it as the worst decision made by a captain I played under, just topping the charts ahead of Steve Waugh when he made India follow-on [at Kolkata in 2001], because it was based on arrogance about the opposition and our own supposed invincibility, not the cricketing facts."
Warne also recalled that coach John Buchanan's attempts to right the ship by questioning the players' winning desire led to near revolt in the team.
"On the bus on the way back to the hotel after the game, John Buchanan called a team meeting. I was like, 'Oh no, what's he going to say now?'," Warne wrote. "We collected in the team room and he started with an obvious line, something like, 'We didn't play very well again this game.' Yep, true, Buck. Then he said, 'But why didn't we play well?' Maybe you tell us, Buck. So he did.
"It was along the lines of 'I don't think you blokes care enough and, playing like you are, I don't think you're worthy of wearing the baggy green cap.' I could sense the rage bubbling in the room and could feel it burning inside me, but I waited for the captain, anyone, to say some-thing. Everyone sat there quietly, heads down, no-one willing to get involved. I thought, 'To hell with this,' stood up and said, 'Buck, don't you ever tell me I don't care enough and that I'm not worthy of wearing the baggy green cap. I've busted my balls for a long time, so has everyone else in this room, so how about we just play and you keep your thoughts to yourself.'
"McGrath said, 'I'm with Warney.' Magilla said, 'I'm with Warney too.' Ricky was like, 'Hey, hey, alright, calm down, you blokes.' I said, 'F*** this meeting, I'm not taking this shit from him,' and started to walk out."
Warne was absolutely gutted with the comments of Buchanan as he further wrote: "There is no-one who can say I'm not worthy of the baggy green - no-one. John Buchanan would have no idea how much blood and sweat I've put in, never mind the tears, especially on that tour. That's not just me either, it's all the guys. We've all busted our guts and given it everything.”
"Punter said, 'Hey, let's calm down.' But I had mentally gone. 'This meeting is over, Punt,' I said, and was out of there. Buck never really understood when to make a point and when not. It was like he couldn't judge the moment. He thought he knew us but he didn't. And that was proved time and time again with these ridiculous meetings."
Australia eventually lost the 2005 Ashes series 2-1, with England securing a lead by winning the fourth Test at Trent Bridge by three wickets.
(With inputs from ESPNcricinfo)