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Australia v England, 1st Test, Brisbane, 5th day

We must get even better says Ponting

Peter English at Brisbane

November 27, 2006

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Ricky Ponting - determined not to get carried away by the win at the Gabba © Getty Images
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Australia will remember their year-old feelings of first-Test euphoria as they try to avoid the same lapses that cost them the 2005 Ashes. Seventeen months after the 239-run victory at Lord's they have recorded a thumping 277-run triumph at the Gabba and Ricky Ponting is determined not to fall away again.

The pre-lunch clean-up of the five wickets needed for a 1-0 lead left Australia with an afternoon of celebrations, but Ponting insisted the players would look over their shoulders as well as to the future. "It's a good opportunity to sit back and think about the series last year and about what we might have been thinking going into the second game," he said. "We need to make sure we're better the second time around."

England's era-ending comeback for a 2-1 victory will be harder to match in conditions the home side has mastered. Australia have not lost a series here since the 1992-93 visit of West Indies and this result has created an envious advantage ahead of the more sombre surfaces of Perth and Adelaide. Ponting's men can afford to be patient while England have to push the pace.

"Some of us are in a position that we've been in before - 1-0 down with four Tests to play," Flintoff said hopefully. Kevin Pietersen's first-over dismissal to Brett Lee, caught clipping to Damien Martyn at short midwicket, ended the prospect of a day of drama and Australia chipped away over the next 90 minutes, with Stuart Clark and Shane Warne collecting four victims each.

Ponting, the Man of the Match for his double of 196 and 60 not out, returned to the field after a back injury on Sunday to marshall the victory. The move not to enforce the follow-on dragged the match into a fifth day and the plan was challenged by the former captains Steve Waugh and Ian Chappell.

It has become a feature of Ponting's captaincy along with consulting as a group on tactics. Australia led by 445 runs after the first innings and Ponting had opened the discussion to the team before batting again on the way to setting a target of 648.

"There were a few different thoughts and feelings going around at the time," Ponting said. "I felt the bowlers would have been better to have a break at that stage of the game. The wicket was only going to get harder to bat on ... I thought our bowlers could exploit those cracks well later in the game. There was also the fact of getting England back out in the field again."

Mostly Ponting wanted to wear England down and he was willing to gamble with the weather and running England back into form. "I read the papers this morning and noticed a lot of people were pushing that argument [that he should have enforced the follow-on], but I am making decisions on behalf of the team and what we think is best to win. We won the game very comfortably so I'm more than happy."

Ponting also rejected claims England had been under-prepared for the series after playing only three warm-up matches. "They couldn't have been any more than us," he said. "We had one first-class game after the Champions Trophy and were only back in the country for a week and a half before the first Test, so if anyone was going to be under-cooked it would have been us. I don't think they can use it as an excuse."

Peter English is the Australian editor of Cricinfo

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