Ponting: England hitting their straps
Ricky Ponting believes England are peaking at the right time ahead of this winter’s Ashes.
The Australia captain has been tracking England’s Test progress since they regained the urn last summer.
Since then, they secured a creditable draw in South Africa, won home and away against Bangladesh and now lead Pakistan 2-0 in the npower Test series.
The 35-year-old admitted he had been impressed by England’s recent form, particularly that of fast bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad, but insisted they would encounter very different conditions in Australia.
“Anderson and Broad and those guys have really stepped up,” Ponting said, ahead of Australia’s tour of India.
"They are coming together well as a team. We have to make sure at the end of the Indian tour that we have got everything in place to make sure that we're ultra-competitive against them.
"They certainly have bowled well and they've had great conditions to bowl in as well, the English.
"We'll have a different set of conditions and a different ball when they come out here and I'm sure our guys will equip themselves really well.
"We know where we have to bowl to all of their batsmen. They've got no one there who's going to surprise us at all."
England’s batting line-up will likely be similar to their last trip Down Under, when Australia won 5-0, perhaps with the inclusion of Jonathan Trott and Eoin Morgan.
Ponting talked up his side’s chances of whitewashing England again, despite the retirements of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist since the 2005 series.
When asked today if the new-look Australia could repeat that feat, Ponting replied: “It's absolutely possible. There's no reason why not.
"It's all in our hands. It's how well we play and how well we take charge of different situations. We've learned from a lot of the mistakes that we've made.
"There's no doubt we made some mistakes in the last Ashes series in England that probably cost us the series.
"We know now that we're a more experienced and probably a better team now than we were then.
"We put that together, plus we're playing in our conditions, we hope to win this series and win it well.
"Batting collapses probably were the reason we lost the series last time around and our inability to bowl them out on the last day in Cardiff.
"I've got confidence in the squad of players that we've got that they are going to be good enough to win an Ashes series."
Ponting gave his backing to under-fire batsman Marcus North, claiming he has been working hard to improve his inconsistent form.
"I have got confidence in the batting line-up that we have, that they are good enough to win an Ashes series. That's certainly what I will be pressing on the guys over the next month," he said.
"[North] by his own admission has probably been a little bit inconsistent. But when he's in and gets to 20 or 30 he generally goes on and makes a really big score and some of the hundreds he's made for the Australia team have been absolutely outstanding.
“When you see those types of innings you see the type of player he is.
"I have been a lot more inconsistent since the start of last summer than in most of my career. I have a lot of work to do - as the rest of us do."
Ponting revealed his bowling attack would be strengthened by Peter Siddle and Ryan Harris, both returning from injury, but that a surprise Test comeback from fast bowler Shaun Tait was unlikely.
"I don't think Shaun will have his body in a state that's going to be fit enough and strong enough to play Test match cricket," he added.
"We have got some one-day games coming in India and I'm sure his name will come up for selection there.
"If we get him through that nice and fit and he starts the Australian summer well we will see how it goes."
Ponting denied the two-Test series in India during October would hamper preparations.
"We've got what we've got,” he said. “A Test match is a Test match. It doesn't matter whether you are playing in India or Perth. If we can win there it will be a great confidence boost.
"We have a really good amount of cricket to play leading into the first Test in Brisbane and we have to make the most of every opportunity we get."