Captain plans for full-strength England July 26, 2006

Vaughan could return for Ashes - Ponting

Cricinfo staff

Ricky Ponting expects to see his opposite number in November © Getty Images
Ricky Ponting refuses to believe Michael Vaughan will miss the Ashes despite the England captain ruling himself out until January. Ponting will prepare to face a full-strength squad in the series starting on November 23.

"You've got to remember those guys [Vaughan and Simon Jones] have been ruled out a long time ago," he said in Sydney's Daily Telegraph, "and there is still a few months to go before the series."

During a calamitous few months, Vaughan made a return to Championship cricket for Yorkshire before breaking down again. He underwent a fourth operation on his knee earlier this month and was ruled out of the Ashes. Jones, who is a more optimistic bet for playing against Australia, has a long way to go and will learn of his chances later this month. He is spending two days per week in an oxygen tent to speed up his recovery.

Ponting, though, is seemingly unconvinced by the fitness reports. "It's a long time to get over any sort of injury," he said. "I'm pretty sure they will want Vaughan and Jones here if they can get them here. We are preparing to play a full-strength side."

Ponting also disputed comments from Merv Hughes who last week suggested Australia's friendliness with the England players cost them the Ashes. "It's important you play the game with a smile on your face," he said. "You have to try and enjoy the game as much as you can. The first Test in England was as fierce a contest as I have ever been involved in. People talk about Warney and Pietersen but Warney was trying as hard as anybody and was as keen as anyone to get Pietersen out early on."

Talk of Andrew Flintoff and other England players appearing in Australian club sides before the Ashes did not concern Ponting. "I can't see why there would be too many problems with it," he said. "We've been going to England for years and playing county cricket and getting an idea about the conditions."