England v Australia, 4th ODI, The Oval June 30, 2010

Ponting lauds team effort in turnaround

Ricky Ponting took it upon himself to put Australia's tour back on track, leading from the front with a 93-ball 92, and ensuring against the indignity of a whitewash at the hands of the old enemy. But while that coveted 5-0 scoreline is now beyond England's reach, Ponting stopped short of declaring that normal service had been resumed. With the series long gone, he was happy simply to inject some confidence into his squad - in particular a bowling attack that is someway short of a first-choice line-up, but is rapidly developing a style of its own.

At Old Trafford it was Shaun Tait and Doug Bollinger who clawed their team right back into the contest by instigating a collapse of six for 18 in the closing overs of England's run-chase. Today, it was the other 90mph man in their ranks, Ryan Harris, who stepped into the vacancy left by a host of senior men, including Mitchell Johnson and Brett Lee. His third five-wicket haul in 16 ODI appearances first thwarted England's bid for momentum then ushered them straight to the exit. The final margin - 78 runs - was arguably the most comprehensive beating meted out by either side in this series.

"We've lost the series, but it's nice to play well, and I'm proud of the boys for the way they played today," said Ponting. "We're not that far away, but you don't need to be that far away to be shown up in international cricket, like we were in the first three games. What I said to the boys this morning was that we had to keep backing their instincts and talents, and soon enough our best cricket was going to come out.

"I thought the way we controlled the game today was pretty good," Ponting added. "To make 290 batting first was always going to be a hard total to chase, and Ryan and the boys did a great job with the ball. When you're in a situation like we were today, 3-0 down, it says a lot to be able to bounce back, to pick yourself up and play a game like we did today. That's what I'm most proud of from the group."

England were on the back foot throughout their run-chase - metaphorically and literally - thanks largely to the ferocity that Shaun Tait's belated inclusion has brought to the line-up. He was not at his absolute best on this occasion, but he didn't need to be, because his mere presence has helped to bring out the best in his colleagues, who set themselves to attack from the word go, rather than sit back and await their fate - as they did with particularly dire consequences at the Rose Bowl.

"We had our noses in front in the entire bowling innings and to close the game out the way we did gives us great confidence going into the last game," said Ponting. "Our attack for the last few years has been Johnson and Lee, so we've always had that firepower. If anything, we lacked zip in the first few games and we lacked the ability to get the batsmen off the front foot. Tait has been able to do that for us, because having that firepower to take wickets through those middle overs is vital in one-day cricket."

On this occasion, however, it was Harris who reaped the rewards of Australia's renewed aggression, as he collected his third Man of the Match award in 15 ODIs this year. "That was probably my best performance," he said. "I've been happy with the way I've been bowling, because I've been going out there with no fear and knowing I can get anyone out. I'm bowling quicker than I was three or four years ago, and I'm looking after myself and keeping my body strong."

Australia's management know all about the challenges of keeping their fast bowlers fit, and Ponting admitted he longed for the day he could take his pick of every one of the seven or eight men who are challenging for selection in the run-in to the Ashes and the World Cup.

"We've been tested a lot in the past 12-18 months, the amount of injuries to our quicks has been hard to deal with and cope with," he said. "Even when you have four men on the tour, at some stage they'll pick up niggles and you have to manage them. But put Lee, Johnson, Hilfenhaus and Siddle back into your group and suddenly your stocks look really good again.

Having big Josh Hazlewood here has been good as well, he's had some exposure, and Smithy [Steven Smith] has stood up well in the last few games. But I'm looking forward to having all those guys to pick from. It'll be nice as captain not having to worry about injuries."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Cameron on July 2, 2010, 4:09 GMT

    ...speaking of "right old rubbish" gnomeorram: yours ranks at the top of the heap. How long have England been an ODI work in progress (as you put it)? 40 years? Near enough. Get over your little string of 8 wins on the trot. Where is the solid, sound, grassroots selection process from the English? It doesn't exist; they just add Kolpak after Kolpak. Australia invests in the game locally (as well as internationally) & as a result it harvests from the strongest domestic competition. Its OWN domestic competition. Australia will always have a competitive side. There has been no major slide down the rankings following the recent big name departures. Granted, we have come back to the field. However, there are no spineless showings other unmentioned nations are famed for. Work in progress? What's the timeline on that gnomeorram? Round it off at a ton shall we? Chat when you've actually got some ODI silverware, perhaps....

  • richard on July 1, 2010, 13:02 GMT

    Some right old rubbish written below.

    Dilruk, it was the Aussies who were rescued by rain at Old Trafford in 2005. Nothing could have saved England in 06/07!

    Marcio, I've clocked some one-eyed nonsense in your postings here recently, but this one takes the biscuit. This is not a good Aussie team: it is an uncertain, mediocre team with pretty ordinary future prospects. Even the cautious way they compiled 290 yesterday betrayed the lack of confidence in the team. A decent Oz lineup would have put on 340 on that pitch. It's also instructive that they were only able to put on a competitive target after the series had gone to an England team that, let's be honest (as even Andrew Strauss is), is still far more work-in-progress than finished article.

    satty and other Lee fixators: it's time to let him go, I'm afraid. On the pitch, he will never again be the bowler he is in your head. I say this with genuine regret, as Brett Lee is undoubtedly on the side of the angels.

  • Dummy4 on July 1, 2010, 7:08 GMT

    not that england are a good team,they are mostly lucky in their backyard.even the weather gods saved them in one match in the ashes in 2005 or 2006 if I am correct.Even though england win some games against australia they cant win convincinely to be called as a good team.

  • Manasvi on July 1, 2010, 6:32 GMT

    Mitchell Johnson and perhaps Brett Lee will add more spice to this lineup. However, I was surprised to see Hazelwood being given a chance so early. A better bet would have been Nannes who has played against England before and is more experienced and pretty quick too.

  • Satish on July 1, 2010, 5:15 GMT

    Way to go aussies, put in mitch and Lee back in the team and they are sure gonna win the matches with ease. Good to see punter getting some runs, these were long time dues.

  • Marcio on July 1, 2010, 4:25 GMT

    The Oz bashers have gone quiet again. So much for the idea that the Australian team is hopeless. The sheer nonsense written here over the last few weeks has been mindboggling. The world's no. 1 ranked one day team (by miles) does not suddenly become incompetent. Some people should actually think before they write. But then again, 'thinking' is rarely the motive for such posting - just a chance to spew vitriol.

    Well done Australia.

  • ronald on July 1, 2010, 0:37 GMT

    My dad once said to me " dem aussies are always tough to beat." My cousin, Deon Brewster, said "great depth", of the aussies. My own observation is that they detest losing. They r not going to be dethroned easily, especially since they have been putting a lot of money in their sport for the past 20 years. They have a serious mgmt team that doesnt play favorites; their boys r always fit n ready(heard it is greatly stressed). Look at MHussey; didnt get a break until he was in his 30s. They have a very good leader in Ponting. And how about this - every little kid in Austrailia wants to be a cricketer when he grows-up! So, HM cricket team, cherish your little win, because serious 'licks' r ahead!

  • Rajaram on June 30, 2010, 22:20 GMT

    I thought Australia clawed back very well in the third ODI, and deserved to win.Thanks to the Englishman partisan umpire Ian Gould giving Steven Smith out lbw for a ball that hit his back foot, and going down leg, then not giving Andrew Stauss out lbw to Michael Clarke out when he was clearly out,England won that game. I wonder why Ricky did not bowl Watson in the final overs in Game 3.He is a wicket taker.In this ODI, Australia showed why they are the best in the world - both with bat,and ball - and a second string attack at that.

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