Ponting out for revenge
Ricky Ponting returns to lead Australia tomorrow, knowing he gets an immediate chance to exact revenge on England for the npower Ashes defeat.
Ponting, 34, was granted a fortnight rest period following the 2-1 Test series loss - and his colleagues opened up a 3-0 NatWest Series lead in his absence.
They need win only one of the final four matches, starting at Lord’s tomorrow, to seal the series - coincidentally thanks to the form of Cameron White, the man deputising for Ponting at number three in the order.
Twenty-six-year-old White has scored 200 runs in three innings, including a maiden one-day international hundred in the floodlit win at the Rose Bowl in midweek, and is now expected to switch to number seven.
“I might have to take someone down at training to get myself back into the side,” joked Ponting. “Cameron’s played really well. I’ve been impressed with how he’s played in all three innings.
“I thought the way he controlled the innings for us the other night and his own innings was very good. He’s been in and around the side for a few years and been waiting for an opportunity to bat a little bit higher up the order.
“I think he showed us all over the last couple of weeks he’s more than capable of batting anywhere in the order - and that’s a real ‘positive’ for us and makes selections for tomorrow’s game a little more difficult.”
Australia have now won 10 of their last 13 one-day internationals against England - although Ponting has observed from afar that, as in the Test campaign, there appears to be little between the teams.
“The results have been one-sided, but the games have been closer than the results indicate,” he said. “One-day cricket is a bit like that - the team that just grabs an opportunity when it comes up quite often goes on and wins games.
“They are probably a little bit more unsettled than we are at the moment. There’s a number of reasons why - we’ve played good cricket, and Michael Clarke has done a good job captaining the side.”
Ponting is certainly in better spirits than when he returned home in the immediate aftermath of that Ashes defeat.
“The reaction was pretty much what I expected,” he reported. “I don’t think there was anything that really shocked me too much about the way things were back in Australia.
“I think everybody in Australia really appreciated how good a series it was and how tight a contest it was through the whole series. For me it was all about clearing my mind and making sure that when I got back here I was ready to play well again. I feel terrific; I’ve had a few good sleeps over the last couple of nights, so I’ll be up nice and early and ready to go in the game.”
Australia also have a significant date at Lord’s next year, with one of the two neutral Tests against Pakistan scheduled for headquarters.
“This is one of the great places in the world to play Test cricket,” said Ponting. “We’ve had a great time over here this tour and we are looking forward to playing Pakistan here in 10 months’ time. It will be enjoyable.
“It’s very significant for them [Pakistan]. I’m sure they’d rather be playing here than not playing at all. That’s exactly the way we feel about it as well.
“Pakistan at the moment is obviously a fairly difficult place to tour for a number of reasons - and I think to be able to play Pakistan in neutral venues is something that’s going to be great for the game.”