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Ponting motivated by Ashes failures

Brydon Coverdale

August 13, 2012

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Ricky Ponting during a trip to the Tiwi Islands, August 10, 2012
Ricky Ponting has been in the Northern Territory over the past few days as part of Australia's training camp, and has his sights set on another Ashes tour © Getty Images
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Ricky Ponting has said he is motivated every day by the memories of losing the past two Ashes series in England and he hopes to retain his place long enough to have another chance to win the urn away from home. Ponting will be 38 when Australia tour England next year and having had his ODI career ended by the national selectors earlier this year, he knows that he will not make the trip unless his form over the coming 12 months justifies it.

As a Test-only player, Ponting now has plenty of down-time to ponder his goals, and while his colleagues fly out for a limited-overs tour of the UAE this month he will remain at home, working on his game. And visions of Michael Vaughan, Andrew Strauss and their team-mates raising the urn in triumph at The Oval will not disappear.

"It's one of the biggest motivators I have right now. Every morning I get up and go to the gym and I'm pounding away on the bike or the treadmill, it's with some of the memories of The Oval still in my mind from the last couple of tours," Ponting told ABC Radio on Monday. "They're things that don't go away quickly.

"We've been very close over there on the last couple of tours, haven't quite been good enough and we were nowhere good enough when England were in Australia last time. I think all Australian Test players have a point to prove to England and probably more of a point to prove in England."

But while thoughts of an Ashes redemption are in Ponting's mind, he knows that he cannot afford to overlook the many contests looming before that trip. His next engagement for Australia will be the Test series against South Africa starting in early November, before three Tests against Sri Lanka, and then a tour of India before the Ashes.

There is also the prospect of playing in two more Ashes battles, for back-to-back series have been scheduled for next year, with England to tour Australia barely six months after the series in England. By then Ponting will be 39, and while reaching that point while remaining in the baggy green might seem like a best-case scenario for him, it is not a goal he thinks is out of reach.

"It might be easier to sustain now that I'm only playing one form of the game," Ponting said of the desire to keep playing. "The amount of cricket that I've played over the last 15 years is pretty immense, 160-odd Tests and 370 one-dayers… that's a lot of cricket. Now that I'm not playing that one-day side of things I'm playing a few [Sheffield] Shield games this year, a few Ryobi Cup games, I'll get a few more Hurricanes games this year, but as far as where do I end, that all depends on how my hunger is and how I'm playing and how my form is.

"We've got 18 months of some of the most competitive Test cricket that we've had in a long time: South Africa in Australia, India in India and then the Ashes, back-to-back series pretty much. It doesn't get any bigger or better than that for an Australian cricketer. If I can make it through to the end of that, that would be great. If I can play well enough to have an impact on some wins through that period that would be great as well. Really for me all I can focus on now is being right for the start of November."

In Ponting's favour is the fact that few middle-order batsmen are knocking the door down at domestic level. The national selector John Inverarity has spoken of George Bailey, Peter Forrest and David Hussey potentially being the next men in line for Test cricket but none have dominated in the Shield over the past few years to the extent that their case is irresistible. Ponting said he would accept it if he lost his place to someone more deserving.

"If there's someone out there better than me that is breathing down my neck and pushing me out the side, that's international sport," he said. "If there's someone better than Michael Hussey or David Warner that's the way it is. You have to be picking the best team to win every game you play. I honestly think if we play the way these guys can play and we just do things that little bit better … they'll find it hard to beat us - I don't care who we play."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by Hammond on (August 16, 2012, 12:17 GMT)

@Front-Foot-Lunge- I don't hope so, we still have some very arrogant cricketers in the Aussie side that need an ongoing dose of defeat to wash away the still tangible vestiges of hubris and arrogance (and also amongst the Aussie cricket fans). Would love to see a 4-0 drubbing in England.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (August 16, 2012, 10:22 GMT)

Haven't the tables been turned famously eh? England unquestionably the better side and Ponting has spent the last few years being utterly humiliated. Yes, the jealousy from some Australian quarters reflected badly on a few, but I can't believe for a second that there is universal envy of England's success of the last few years; respect for the better side must surely prevail amongst mature cricket followers. England would love to bowl at Ponting again next year, they'd no doubt be delighted to bowl at any of the club-grade cricketers that currently don the Australian shirt. The question is - having spent so long now in the doldrums as an average, middle- ranked team, how long will Australia continue to remain the butt of all the jokes? I for one hope they manage to put up some kind of a fight soon, for reasons of posterity at least.

Posted by zenboomerang on (August 16, 2012, 7:03 GMT)

@thebrotherswaugh... Many experienced commentators have questioned Pontings captaincy skills with good reasonings - though his team support is probably unrivaled... Except for the India series, from the Oz summer of 2010, Ponting has averaged in Test series: @14.1 v Eng; @31 v SL; @17.5 v SA; @33 v NZ; @24.3 v WI... Hardly Test worthy, with India really only having one good 'in form' bowler the other series show where his batting is at & considering how low NZ & WI rankings are, Ricky has been under achieving for years... The Test series against the Saafa's will show if he is worthy of going on an Ashes tour or not, otherwise I would be blooding a replacement for the SL & India series...

Posted by thebrotherswaugh on (August 15, 2012, 21:34 GMT)

@popcorn - yep, we've seen how poorly AUS have done since Ponting resigned the captaincy to Clarke, who possesses neither the flair nor tactical acumen of the legendary Ponting. Note the sarcasm!! Ponting is a great cricketer, and he was a captain who fought tooth & nail for his team, you could never question his ticker or his willingness to do battle. But he was an average captain. Steve Waugh was much better (and if you look at his stats from when he concentrated on batting alone, the average is around 60 in tests), and his successor also. Ponting also LOST two Ashes series, something neither Taylor or Waugh EVER managed to do, but you conveniently omitted that little stat, didn't you. We'll agree to disagree.

Posted by RandyOZ on (August 15, 2012, 13:41 GMT)

Poms look very jealous of Ponting, the best since Bradman, as they have never had any champions (Botham - laughable!).

Posted by   on (August 15, 2012, 12:25 GMT)

Ricky is one of the best batsman we ever produced, but he should've retired at the end of the India series. I have a lot of respect for him, but he's long past his best to the point where he's a free wicket.

Posted by Meety on (August 15, 2012, 11:22 GMT)

@Kaze - I rate G Chappell ahead of Punter too, but for about 5 yrs, Ponting was the 2nd best batsmen of all time. Obviously waned, as did Chappell & Border. Border is harder to rate, as he was a lot more different. I just remember how often things seemed to be OK in Oz's dark days of the mid 80s IF AB was still at the crease! (Punter marginally ahead but that depends on which side of the bed I get out of in the morning)! @ popcorn - I think when people judge Punter's captaincy, they need to have a look at possibly the only other batsmen/captain of the modern era to have gone thru the same upheavals & see how he coped - that's Richie Richardson. It didn't end well for Richie Rich, Punter is light years ahead. Both had to cope with declining dynastys & were the gun batsmen. IMO - Punter was a great ODI captain, slightly above ave Test captain. I wished he'd of been more like his nickname when captaining the team.

Posted by reddawn1975 on (August 15, 2012, 10:03 GMT)

No Ponting is the best batsman since Bradman he is a modern day machine.And has led Australia through some good and tough times the Numbers don't lie doesn't matter which country he made runs didn't make runs he's a champion and far to many people have jumped on his throat way to soon.Support your champion like the Indians support there's.They show pure love for the game and there cricketers.keep going hard Ricky there's runs in you still

Posted by othello22 on (August 15, 2012, 9:26 GMT)

He has an uphill battle to retain his place until the Ashes begin, tough series against the Saffas (who may very well be number 1 by then), SL and a series on Indian dustbowls where he has never really looked comfortable. Ponting is one of the greats no doubt but he has looked vulnerable last few years especially when the ball is moving. Unfortunately, age is diminishing his once fabled powers but he is a very determined man and for his sake and Australia's, I hope he makes it. Of course, the other problem is that Australia's hopeless top order will never provide him with any starts either and it will once again be left to him, Clarke and Hussey to do all the heavy lifting just like last summer against india. Australian cricket is in a dire state, so it's hard to justify dropping a tried and proven batsman like Ponting unless there is an obvious replacement who is in red hot domestic form, which there is not.

Posted by popcorn on (August 15, 2012, 7:42 GMT)

@thebrotherswaugh,I cannot why you don not rate Ricky Ponting highly as a Captain. Do you think he achieved the Pinnacle of a Captain's success - the HIGHEST number of Test Wins as Captain in Test HISTORY, merely by strolling up to take the toss, let the players field wherever they wanted,had the Midas Touch to know WHICH bowler to give the ball to bowl,rode his luck to get Win after Win,merely did batting work and scored 41 Test Centuries,that he was lucky to have Shane Warne,Glenn McGrath in his Team, but Steve Waugh,Mark Taylor and AB did not have this luck? What utter nonsense! Ponting was the GREATEST ever Captain for Australia. I'll leave you with just one thought - Ponting has been the ONLY Captain to whitewash England 5 nil - he did that in The Ashes 2006 -07. The last Captain who did that was Warwick Armstrong 85 years before that. So give the guy his due Credit.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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