Australia on track to regain the Ashes - Ponting
Ricky Ponting says that Australia have addressed the problems that led to their Ashes loss last summer and are now headed in the right direction towards reclaiming the urn.
Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Ponting said that he would prepare for this winter's series against England knowing that he had a settled unit. "Our Test cricket can't be faulted, really, since the last Ashes Test match. Everything we have done has been very, very good quality," he said. " The areas that we needed to address, I think ... after England we have addressed. We have certainly turned a number of things around and we are heading in the right direction."
Australia have fielded 21 players since the final Ashes Test last September, including five debutants, but Ponting remained confident of his side's abilities. "Matty Hayden is in as good a form as he has ever been. I feel like my game is going really well at the moment, Michael Hussey has barely put a foot wrong, so there are lots of great signs for us come Ashes time," he said. "It is great to see Jason [Gillespie] back and bowling well and it is great to see Michael Kasprowicz back and bowling well and Brett [Lee] in career-best form. I will be very confident going in knowing we have a very good settled line-up and a bunch of guys who are going to do everything they can to try to win the Ashes back."
Compared to a struggling England, who lost in Pakistan and drew in India and have had their share of injury woes, Australia have not lost a Test since the Ashes. "We know England probably haven't got everything in order right at the moment," Ponting said. "They have had lots of injuries and they have a really tough program heading into the Ashes series as well. So it is the one thing we are all really looking forward to now."
While confident that the apparent instability in a bowling attack missing Glenn McGrath had been sorted out, Ponting was hopeful that his champion bowler, missing because of family reasons, would be back soon. "We have to see where Glenn is at, hopefully he is going to be available for the Ashes, which would be good for us if he is because over the past 12-18 months he has been really good for us," Ponting said. "[Shane Warne] has bowled particularly well, Stuey MacGill bowled very well out here, so things are heading in the right direction.
"Now the guys have the chance to freshen up and get really fit for what is a really big six or seven months of international cricket for us with the Champions Trophy, the Ashes and the World Cup," he added. "So the opportunity is in our hands now for us to go away and work really hard and to make sure we are up to whatever confronts us. Come the first Test there should be no excuses for us; we should be primed and ready to go."
Ponting said that he would urge his team-mates to have as much time off as possible before they begin their summer preparations with a fitness test on June 19. The Australians will have two Pura Cup matches before the start of the first Ashes Test in Brisbane on November 23.