A LIFE IN CRICKET: Gary Pratt remembers how he became a

PONTING’S

Gary Pratt

Gary Pratt

I reckon I could invent the cure for cancer and I’d still be known as the guy who ran out Ricky Ponting.

I know people have described it as the perfect run out. Even Duncan Fletcher said that. But, if I’m honest, I just picked it up and hoped for the best. I could see about one-and-a-half stumps so was just hoping it would go in the right general direction.

There’s no way I was aiming for the base of the stumps or anything like that.

We had no idea that Ponting had lost his rag so much.

I didn’t know until I was driving home. It just showed how important it was. He was looking really well-set.

It was a massive wicket.It’s true that the Aussies didn’t like the way we used substitute fielders. I guess they had a point, too. Often I would
just come on if a bowler wanted to nip to the toilet or freshen up a bit.

He didn’t pick the right occasion to complain, though.

I was on for Simon Jones at the time and Simon was in hospital. He hasn’t played for England since, so there isn’t any doubt it was a genuine injury.The spirit between the two sides was actually very good.

When The Oval Test finished we all had a beer together and Ponting showed what a fantastic fella he is.

I wasn’t there for the end of the Trent Bridge Test. Michael Hussey said he wanted me to go back to Durham as I was going to play in the next game. When I arrived, it turned out I wasn’t going to play. I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Australians had asked for him to get me out of the way.

I fielded in four of the Tests. I felt a part of things.

I knew the lads, anyway, and until the last day at The Oval, no-one seemed that tense.

They were a focussed bunch but, when they weren’t playing, they tended to do their own things. They certainly didn’t spend all their time together off the pitch.

At breakfast the day after The Oval Test, ‘Vaughney’ said to me out of the blue ‘you’re coming on the bus.’

None of us had any idea what that would be like, but it was an amazing experience.

What people tend to forget is that I was originally asked to spend time with the team in 2004 as I was seen as a promising batsman. Duncan wanted to get young lads in to see how they would react, so I was invited to spend some time with the team along with James Hildreth, Nicky Peng and Samit Patel. I first fielded against New Zealand at Headingley that summer.

I was there at The Oval again in 2006 when Pakistan forfeited the Test.

I had worked pretty hard on my fielding. I didn’t bowl much at the time, so I thought it was important to give my selfan edge when it came to selection.

I was lucky in that I was pretty quick and agile so it came pretty easily, but I worked on technical stuff with Trevor Penney.

I had a chat with Jonty Rhodes during his time for Gloucestershire, too. He said you had to think like a goalkeeper and stop everything; catching and run-outs were a bit of a bonus.

It was an odd summer, really.

While it was brilliant to be around the England team, I wasn’t able to get in to the Durham team in championship cricket. That was very frustrating. I was playing well in the limited-overs team and in the seconds. I used to make sure I had a bat In the end it didn’t work out for me at Durham. I didn’t get on with the coach, Martin Moxon and 2006 was a make or break season.

If Geoff Cook had been in charge, I think I’d still be there, but Moxon was much more a ‘do as I say’ sort of coach and it didn’t work for me.

My dream was to help.

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