Ponting unable to contain excitement
Ricky Ponting admits he cannot recall being as excited in his 15-year career as he prepares for tomorrow’s deciding npower Ashes Test at the Brit Oval.
Australia captain Ponting leads his team into the fifth and final match of the campaign with the destiny of the urn still undecided.
Avoiding defeat, however, will give Ponting, 34, a sense of revenge - in what could be his last Test in England - following the 2005 series loss that resulted in calls for his resignation from some Down Under.
The tourists also go into the match with genuine momentum after beating England by an innings at Headingley Carnegie to square things at 1-1.
“I spoke to the other players before the first Test and told them I was excited about the whole series and how much it meant to me,” Ponting said.
“But this game now, I don’t remember being this excited for a game. I was up at 6.30am wanting to get to breakfast, have the team meeting, get to training.
“I can’t wait for Thursday to come around and I can sense that around some of the other players in the group.
“When we lost in ‘05, I don’t think it hurt me any more than it hurt the next guy in the changing rooms and it will be the same this time around.
“We’re all here together, we’re all a part of it and all in exactly the same boat.
“It’s a special series to all of us, and look, it might be my last chance to get a crack at doing it here but I’ll just prepare as if it’s any other game and hopefully go out and play as well as I can in this game.
“If we play our best cricket and it means we win, if we play our best cricket and it means we lose, then that’s all we can control.”
One man who will definitely be featuring in his final Ashes Test is England talisman Andrew Flintoff, the scourge of Australia four years ago and still the hosts’ most vital player despite his knee problem.
England badly missed him in Leeds, where they were blown away in a little over seven sessions.
“He’ll want to have a good game in his last Test match so whether or not that frees him up or whether or not that puts more pressure on him I’m not sure,” Ponting said.
“Having not been in that situation of playing my last game, I don’t know what it’s like but what we do know is, whenever he plays for England, the crowd gets a lot more involved in the games.
“Whenever he’s bowling, the whole ground lifts a little bit and the difference between the first three games and Headingley was they just didn’t have him to turn to and the crowd didn’t get involved in the game.
“It will be sad to see such a big figure in the game of Test cricket move on.
“He’s been a great opponent of ours over the years and someone who’s always played the game in the right spirit, so we’ll see how he goes this week.”
While England are boosted by the return of all-rounder Flintoff, man of the match in the victory at Lord’s, they have also settled on handing a debut to Warwickshire batsman Jonathan Trott.
“We understand that Trott is a good player and we’ve had an opportunity the last couple of days to have a good look at him and the way he plays,” Ponting added.
“We’ve spoken to a couple of the guys around the county scene that have played a bit against him as well, so there will be no excuses as far as our preparation goes against him.”
Australia will consider pace bowler Brett Lee, following a rib muscle injury that kept him out of the first four Tests, while spinner Nathan Hauritz comes back into the reckoning.