Defeat will cost Ponting job - Vaughan
Michael Vaughan has ramped up the pressure on Australia skipper Ricky Ponting ahead of the Ashes by predicting that he will lose the captaincy if his side fail to regain the little urn this winter.
Ponting, who presided over defeats in England in 2005 and 2009 but orchestrated a 5-0 whitewash in 2006-07, has already intimated as much himself.
“I’d probably be looking for a new job if we lose again,” he said in July. “It’s as simple as that.”
Although the prolific batsman has only suffered one Test series loss on home soil - against South Africa in 2008-09 - Vaughan expects another this winter will cost Ponting his job.
“If he loses the series he will go,” said former England captain Vaughan, who got the better of Ponting in the 2005 Ashes. “He has lost the Ashes twice and hasn’t won an Ashes in England either.
“Obviously he won the 06-07 Ashes 5-0 but he had a better team to manage those days. Now he has a team that is almost back in the ranks of normal cricket teams.
“His record in Australia is phenomenal but he will have to be at his best, both as a captain and as a batsman to put England under pressure.”
England have not won the Ashes in Australia since 1986-87, but Vaughan believes Ponting may struggle to preserve that record with several key bowlers now retired.
“It’s harder being a captain when you don’t have the ammunition in your bowling attack that includes the likes of (Shane) Warne, (Glenn) McGrath and (Jason) Gillespie,” said Vaughan.
“He doesn’t have the x-factor bowlers who can change games. That puts your batsmen under a lot more pressure because they know that you have to get lots more runs to give your bowlers something to bowl at.
“If they’d have got 300 a few years ago, they knew that Warne and McGrath would get them back in the game, but now they need 400-plus to really put England under pressure.”
Vaughan, who missed the 2006-07 series with a knee injury, believes Andrew Strauss can match the achievement of Mike Gatting’s team, who won in Australia 24 years ago.
“They can win it,” said the 36-year-old, who scored three centuries Down Under in the 2002-03 series.
“It’s our most realistic chance since 1987. For so many years it seemed that they didn’t know how to lose but they do now.
“The likes of Graeme Swann, Kevin Pietersen, Stuart Broad and Andrew Strauss are real match-winners and we therefore have a great chance.”
Vaughan reckons the outcome of the first Test at Brisbane, where England have not won since 1986, could be crucial.
“I see whoever wins that match in Brisbane going on to win the series,” he said. “Australia have a great record in Brisbane; they haven’t been beaten in 24 years.
“They will probably go in with four seamers because that’s how conditions will suit. (Off-sinner Nathan) Hauritz won’t play and the likes of Mitchell Johnson and Peter Siddle will come in. They will be key to the outcome of the series too.”