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Ponting wants batting improvement

Investec Test Series
Ricky Ponting

Australia captain Ricky Ponting has called for a batting improvement © Getty Images

Ricky Ponting has urged Australia to try and ignore the frenzied pace of this summer’s Ashes series in a desperate attempt to end the batting failures which have plagued his side.

Despite fielding a batting line-up which is the envy of world cricket, including Adam Gilchrist coming in at number seven, Australia have got beyond 350 only once during the opening two npower Tests with both sides taking aggressive and positive batting to the limit.

But as Australia prepare for the third npower Test at Old Trafford, a venue which traditionally rewards good batting, captain Ponting is urging his side to try and bat with more caution to set more competitive totals.

“No one has faced 150 balls in the Test series yet and no batsman making a hundred is unusual at this stage of a series,” said Ponting. “Our top order have got off to good starts and then just got out.

Matthew Hayden

© Getty Images

“I have done it twice already myself and most of our guys feel like they are in good touch but have made bad choices at different times, which we have not been accustomed to doing for a long time.

“We pride ourselves on big partnerships and guys making big individual scores and we just have not got there yet. We had a good batters’ meeting and spoke about a lot of things.

“We have just got to be hungrier and bat for longer periods of time. All those things come into it - patience and discipline and at the same time trying to be pretty positive and aggressive as well.

“That’s the fine line between batting well and not batting well and so far we have been on the wrong end of it. I know everybody’s working hard and everyone’s batting well, we have just got to go on and get those big scores.”

Stephen Harmison

England's bowlers have troubled the Australian batsmen © Getty Images

The key factor in Australia’s failure to set challenging totals has been their intention to impose themselves on the opposition, which they have been unable to do so successfully against England’s formidable seam line-up.

England have tried to match that positive attitude and the result has been a type of helter-skelter cricket which has thrilled the crowds at both Tests but bears little resemblance to the Test cricket of old.

“It just seems like the last two Tests have been in fast forward, it has been remarkable cricket so far,” conceded Ponting.

“If we can get the game into the fifth day we will be happy because it means the whole tempo would have slowed down and hopefully that means some of our guys will have batted for extended periods which we need to do to win Test matches.

“Maybe we have got carried away but I don’t think any batsmen have felt that way. We have just got to be a bit more disciplined and a bit mentally tougher at different times and get through tough periods which we have been confronted with all the series.”

Brett Lee

Australia are hopeful that Brett Lee will be fit © Getty Images

Australia are expecting Brett Lee, who has spent the last two nights in hospital after sustaining an infection to his left knee, to be fit enough to bowl on Wednesday afternoon and prove his fitness for the Test.

Glenn McGrath, ruled out at Edgbaston on the morning of the Test after suffering an ankle injury during the warm-up, is rated as extremely doubtful and both Shaun Tait and Stuart Clark - called up from county duties with Middlesex - could come into the equation.

Asked about Lee’s chances of playing at Old Trafford, Ponting added: “I think he has a pretty good chance to tell the truth.

“He is very positive about things and the doctors that he has spoken to since he has been there are very positive about things as well.”