A step towards reclaiming No. 1 rank - Ponting
Ricky Ponting hopes the two-Test series in India next month will be a step towards Australia reclaiming the No. 1 Test ranking. Australia are presently fourth in the ratings, 14 points behind top-ranked India, and a 2-0 win for the visitors will narrow the gap to four.
"It's an important tour for all of us," Pointing said before his side's departure to India. "I don't expect miracles, but I expect a very high level of performance over the next few weeks. If we happen to play the cricket I know we are capable of in India, and we can win that series, that will do great things for us to get back up near the No. 1 ranking."
Australia and India have been neck-and-neck in Test cricket over the past decade: India won seven matches, including two away, while Australia prevailed in six. Their last tour to India was one of the more one-sided contests, which the hosts won 2-0. In the build-up to this tour, there have been suggestions that it wasn't ideal preparation ahead of the Ashes that begin later in the year. Ponting, however, dismissed those claims.
"There's been a bit of talk the last few weeks about our preparation into what we've got later in the summer, and I definitely couldn't be happier with it, playing Test cricket at this time of year. I think it will be great to be challenged by a very good team and by the conditions. I think it will be great for us when November (and the Ashes) comes around."
Ponting also called upon the ICC to act quickly on the spot-fixing allegations that have marred Pakistan's ongoing tour of England. "The events of the last couple of weeks have had a big impact I'm sure around the world on the way that the game is viewed, but that's completely out of our hands. The ICC needs to be doing whatever it can to get on top of these things as quickly as possible."
Three Pakistan players - Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif - were provisionally suspended by the ICC after the spot-fixing controversy broke during the Lord's Test. Yesterday, the ICC launched an investigation into the third ODI at The Oval, after receiving information from The Sun newspaper prior to the game on Friday, alleging bookies were aware of certain scoring patterns that occurred during the match. Ponting lauded the ICC's moves to curb the menace, and said there was little players could do except play honest cricket.
"They've done a pretty good job over the last few weeks already and with this latest allegation, hopefully they will get to the bottom of this pretty quick as well," Ponting said. "There's nothing we [players] can do about that. As an Australian cricket team, all we can do is play the best brand of cricket day in and day out.
"I think if we all do the right things on the field, hopefully there will be something positive coming back on the newspaper pages about the game of cricket, which is what we will try and achieve."