Tim Paine's decision to bowl first at The Oval took Ricky Ponting by surprise (Getty Images)
- Australia captain Tim Paine chose to bowl 1st in the 5th Ashes Test on Thursday
- Ricky Ponting was surprised by the decision
- Ponting also didn't want to read too much into Australian fielders dropping catches on Day 1 of the 5th Test
Put in to bat by Australia in a gamble by captain Tim Paine, England was pegged back from a strong position at 103-1 after lunch as Marsh ran through the middle order to immediately justify the decision to call him up in place of Travis Head.
England's batting frailties were exposed again as they wasted a solid start and laboured to 271 for eight at Stumps on Thursday.
Assistant coach Ricky Ponting has admitted to being surprised by Paine's decision to bowl first after winning the toss, but clarified that he will reserve his judgment on the matter till 'the game is over'.
"I never try to make too much of it until the game is over because really that's where it will be the right decision or the wrong decision," Ponting told cricket.com.au.
"It's always dependent on the result of the game. I'm sure (Paine) is probably breathing a little bit easier than he was just after lunch when England were going well.
"Root and Burns had put on nearly an 80-run partnership and the wicket had flattened out. Gutsy call but they're the sort of things you have to do as captain and make those big calls."
Ponting narrated what went on with the team after Paine won the toss at The Oval.
"I was standing with a couple of the Aussie boys on the side of the wicket and when (match referee Javagal Srinath) looked over and said 'Tim, you've won the toss'," Ponting said.
"I then said to the boys 'we're batting' and then Painey went to the mic and said 'we'll have a bowl'. I thought 'that's interesting'."
The Australians had a really poor day in the field as they shelled 3 catches off Joe Root's bat. It didn't hurt the visitors too much as the England captain departed soon after reaching his 4th half-century of the series and Ponting termed the fielding lapses as 'just...one of those days'.
"Siddle's was the easiest one dropped today. Paine's one is a 50-50 one for a fielder but it's probably a 70-30, 80-20 one for a keeper with the gloves on. And Smithy's, we probably mark him pretty hard as well. He catches them more often than not," said Ponting.
When asked whether the Ashes retaining victory in the 4th Test might have affected the concentration levels of the Australians, Ponting brushed aside such speculations asserting that the team had trained better for the ongoing Test 'than they have the whole series'.
"I'm not going to say they weren’t there mentally or their attitude isn't right, it's just been one of those days. I spoke to Justin (Langer, Australia head coach) this morning and he said they trained better leading into this game than they have the whole series.
"And that was always going to be the way. Justin and Tim, they're not going to let last week get in the way of trying to win another Test match this week."