By India Today Sports Desk: Legendary Australia batter Ricky Ponting said he was stunned by the field that was set by Ben Stokes on Day 3 of the Ashes 1st Test that led to the dismissal of centurion Usman Khawaja. The field placement, which is being referred to as 'Brumbrella', took the cricket world by surprise as England had as many as 6 fielders in close-in positions in front of the square.
While Test captains in the past have set aggressive fields, especially to new batters or lower-order batters, Ben Stokes's field to Usman Khawaja, the opener who was batted on 141 helped raise eyebrows. The England captain, who was constantly changing fields trying his hand at every little possibility to unsettle a rock-solid Khawaja, had 3 close-in fielders on off-side and as many on the leg-side while leaving the slip cordon empty.
In the shape of an umbrella, short-in fielders had surrounded Usman Khawaja who was facing a rejuvenated spell from Ollie Robinson. The ploy worked immediately as Khawaja stepped down the track in a bid to hit one over the close-in fielders and paid the price by losing his off-stump. Robinson bowled a full-length delivery that Khawaja missed.
Robinson's expletive-laden send-off made headlines, overpowering the brilliance of Stokes's field setting that undid the Australian opener.
"I don't think I've ever seen a field like that in Test cricket before. There was just an umbrella of fielders around in front of the batsman's face. And it was all about bowling a couple of slower balls and being able to bowl a yorker. And sure enough, Khawaja used his feet, gave himself some room, gave up his stumps, and the yorker knocked his off stump out of the ground," Ricky Ponting told the ICC.
"It's fantastic stuff. It's really refreshing for the Test game to see a team play this way and a captain happy to try everything he possibly can."
'HE'S MAKING A CHANGE EVERY BALL'
Ponting heaped praise on Ben Stokes's captaincy, saying that the England all-rounder is not afraid of stirring things up and constantly looked to employ new plans.
Stokes's plan worked as Australia crumbled, losing their last 4 wickets for just 15 runs, folding for 386.
Notably, England had declared as early as the opening day after posting 393 for 8 in 78 overs, taking a few by surprise.
"It's hard to keep up with them all, he's making a change almost every ball, which is great, it's proactive captaincy. He's always trying to move the game forward, he's looking at any little way that he possibly can to pick up a wicket and change the momentum of the game," Ponting said.
"With Khawaja's innings, I'd hate to try and count how many times he changed the field for him and how many bowling changes and tactical changes he made to try and get Khawaja out - and then it finally worked.
Australia stuck to their own method and came out firing with the ball before rain played spoilsport in Birmingham on Day 3. England lost both their openers and were reeling at 28 for 2 at Stumps