'Our blokes shouldn't be so friendly' - Waugh October 13, 2006

Former greats want Ashes edge back

Cricinfo staff

Tough talk: Ricky Ponting says "it was on for young and old" in 2005 © Getty Images

A growing group of former Ashes winners including Allan Border believes the Australian team needs a harder edge during its battles with England this summer. Border, Mark Waugh and Merv Hughes have indicated the on-field relationships with the opposition were too pleasant when Australia lost the urn last year, but Ricky Ponting wants his men smiling during the five-Test series.

"To me the perception was it was a very friendly series, played in fantastic spirit," Border said in The Courier-Mail. "We are not complaining about that, but there was a perception we didn't have an edge to our game that we've had in the past."

Waugh said on Inside Cricket this week the mixing between sides "takes away that little bit of aura you might have out on the field". "It's like when we used to play West Indies - they were pretty scary at one stage," he told the show. "They weren't too friendly out on the field. I'd like to see our blokes not be so friendly out on the field. You can play the game hard and fair."

The strong on-field attitude was cultivated by Border during the 1989 series and retained under Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh, but Hughes has said it was lost in 2005. However, Ponting said "it was on for young and old" throughout the series.

"We play our best when we are hard-nosed and aggressive and that's the way we have to approach it again," he said. "How you get on off the field is all taken away when you get on the field. We have to make sure we keep doing that."

Adam Gilchrist, the current vice-captain, said the claims of the former players were "rubbish". "They don't know what they are talking about in regards to that series because they weren't there, they weren't in amongst it," he said. "I respect their opinions on many things and understand maybe the message they are trying to get across there. But they don't know."