Ponting targets Australia turnaround
Ricky Ponting believes his Australia side must improve drastically after losing the second Ashes Test in Adelaide by an innings and 71 runs.
Ponting, twice an Ashes loser as captain in England but a 5-0 winner at home in between, now knows his team must win at least two out of the three remaining Tests to take the series and reclaim the urn.
The Australia captain conceded England out-played his side from start to finish at the Adelaide Oval and is aware the hosts need to find ways of constructing match-winning totals and collecting 20 wickets.
It was Andrew Strauss’ well-drilled England who achieved both those objectives to wrap up victory on the final morning, on the back of Kevin Pietersen’s Test-best 227 and the 13 wickets shared by James Anderson and Graeme Swann.
Ponting insists his players need to re-discover their form after they were out-played by the tourists.
“There’s no doubt this is a bad loss for us,” he said. “An innings and 71 runs, having won the toss on a good wicket, says it all. They out-batted, bowled and fielded us this entire game.”
Ponting and Australia’s main aim is to improve in time for the third Test in Perth, starting on Thursday week.
“We’ve done a lot of talking about how we’re going to change and rectify things, but our actions have let us down. We understand that,” he said. “England played very well - no hiding that.
“The week off will do the boys the world of good, to get away and have a think about what they and we need to do to work our way back into the series.
“We have to win two Tests to win the Ashes - and we’ll have to play better than we have in the last Test and a half.”
Ponting is insistent, though, that his players are full of effort and commitment, with only the execution needing to improve.
He said: “I’ll never doubt that about any player that plays for Australia.
“There has been no lack of fight or endeavour (from us). It’s been our skills and thought processes that have let us down.
“We’ve talked a lot about how important it is to fight and win key moments.”
Australia lost the key moments of the game with part-time off-spinner Kevin Pietersen’s dismissal of Michael Clarke with the last ball of day four proving to be a decisive moment in the match.
“Yesterday afternoon we gave ourselves a bit of a chance,” Ponting added. “Losing that wicket last night broke our back a bit, but England ran on with that this morning. (Graeme) Swann bowled very well, and the quicks toiled away.”
Ponting still believes his side are capable of playing their way back into the series but knows they need to be at their ultimate best in order to do so.
“After the first three days at the Gabba, it looked like we were playing good cricket and had a group of players good enough to win the series,” he said.
“Now, it probably looks as though we’ll have to be at our absolute best to work our way back in.
“There’s nothing we’d change preparation, personnel wise. Everything was how we wanted it. Purely and simply, we’ve been outplayed.
“They’re playing well, but a week ago people were saying the teams evenly matched and Australia were favourites.
“I don’t think they’ve improved that much since or we’ve gone that far backwards - even though the scoreboards look that way.”
After scoring just nine runs in Adelaide, Ponting recognises he has a big task on his hands of re-capturing his own form with the bat.
“It’s a great challenge for me,” he said. “I have to make some runs as well, simple as that.
“To make nine in two innings on that wicket is nowhere near good enough for me. My expectations for myself are a lot higher than that.
“The challenge is to score runs and captain the side well in Perth and give us the chance to get back into the series."