New Zealand v Australia, 2nd Test, Hamilton, 5th day

Ponting looks to the Ashes after undefeated summer

Brydon Coverdale in Hamilton

March 31, 2010

Comments: 34 | Text size: A | A

Ricky Ponting gets his hands on the Trans-Tasman Trophy, New Zealand v Australia, 2nd Test, Hamilton, 5th day, March 31, 2010
Eyes on the next prize: Ricky Ponting has the Trans-Tasman Trophy, but he really wants the Ashes back © Getty Images

Ricky Ponting is confident Australia are in the best possible shape to regain the Ashes later this year, after a summer in which they won seven out of eight Tests. Series victories against West Indies and Pakistan were followed by a 2-0 triumph in New Zealand and all that is left before the battle for the urn is a two-match series against Pakistan in England.

Ponting said after the final home Test in January that there were no boxes left to tick before the Ashes, although the return to form of Marcus North and the emergence of Ryan Harris over the past two weeks have given him extra reason to believe. The Test squad features no passengers and such is the depth that if everyone is fit, the challenge will be deciding who to leave out.

"We can't be any better placed at the moment, we have two Tests to play in England then it's straight into it," Ponting said. "There will be no excuses from where we are sitting. We've done everything we would have liked for us to have achieved throughout the summer, there's never been a game that has dragged on. When there's been big moments, we've stepped in and got the job done. That's what I expect from these players and they know that.

"We have got great depth at the moment, which every good team needs and every good team wants. You look at Doug Bollinger, he came into the side when a few guys were injured in India and he hasn't looked back and the same for Ryan Harris, he's stepped up to the plate and become a very good international cricketer."

Harris ended his first Test series with nine wickets at an average of 23, while Bollinger has firmly established himself alongside Mitchell Johnson as a frontline fast bowler. It leaves questions over Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus, who began the summer as the first-choice new-ball bowlers before succumbing to injury.

Hilfenhaus was the Man of the Match in his only Test of the summer before being sidelined by a knee problem, while Siddle struggled for most of the season and then suffered a back stress fracture that should keep him out of the series against Pakistan. If both men are fit by Ashes time, the make-up of Australia's attack will be a difficult selection issue.

"It's a tough question. I'm not sure what the right answer is," Ponting said. "A lot of it might be based on conditions when we get to Brisbane as well, knowing what the ball will do up there. Looking at someone like Doug, he'll swing the new ball. Hilfenhaus got five I think up there and Man of the Match against the West Indies in the first game of the summer last year. Being a quality swing bowler like he is, if he's fit then he'll come into calculations.

"It's a good problem to have. Knowing someone like Pete Siddle as well, who can run in and bowl at good pace and unsettle batters and be a good guy to have around the group. To have those guys all fully fit will make the job tough for the selectors. I'm not sure who has got their noses in front at the moment."

What is certain is that Australia's summer couldn't have been much better, the only Test blemish being when West Indies drew in Adelaide. By the time Under the Southern Cross was belted out at 5.20pm on March 31 at Seddon Park, it signalled the end of an excellent season, with the players dispersing either home or to the IPL before their next challenges, which will culminate with the Ashes opener in November.

"There were probably some question-marks over our Test cricket before the summer started, being a little bit inconsistent through the Ashes series," Ponting said. "I'm really proud of what the group has been able to do, especially when you consider all the cricket that we've had to play. Generally when you get a bit tired teams can fade away but I think if anything we've got better and stronger as a group as the year has gone on. I'm really happy with what we've achieved."

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

RSS Feeds: Brydon Coverdale

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Winsome on (April 1, 2010, 18:54 GMT)

JimDavis, you've got it spot on. Haddin's general sloppiness, his poaching into the slips (which keeps them from decent spatial awareness) and his keeping close up does my head in. Our slips cordon is at a pretty low ebb as I NEVER know if North will hold on to even easy catches and Punter is not as sharp as he used to be.

Hauritz is the best we've got at present, but that really isn't saying a lot. He's a gutsy player, but I never feel he looks threatening. Katich looks far more likely whenever he bowls. Even Clarke does.

Still visiting offies rarely do much in Aus so Swann may find himself with some very hard work. That's the only plus I can think on the spin front.

And lets hope Good Mitch is here to stay for a while.

Posted by tragicmagic on (April 1, 2010, 12:36 GMT)

It is a shame that Australia didn't blood Smith and drop North in this series. Once again Australia's weakness is not trialling new players at the right time, Pontings and selectors over conservatism again! We need to bring in youth to the batting and the team. Hussey should have been dropped last ashes and Hughes should not have been dropped. Watson should be batting at 4 not Clarke! Its not rocket science fellas.... Don't hang on to people for sentimental reasons.

Posted by tragicmagic on (April 1, 2010, 11:04 GMT)

It is a shame that Australia didn't blood Smith and drop North in this series. Once again Australia's weakness is not trialling new players at the right time, Pontings and selectors over conservatism again! We need to bring in youth to the batting and the team. Hussey should have been dropped last ashes and Hughes should not have been dropped. Watson should be batting at 4 not Clarke! Its not rocket science fellas.... Don't hang on to people for sentimental reasons.

Posted by gabbakid on (April 1, 2010, 1:38 GMT)

Australia has had a very good Summer and looks to be favourite for the next Ashes series. While there are a string of fast bowlers competing for places I would like to see the stars of the recent Under 19 World Cup kept in mind especially when the PMs XI is selected. I hope Smith from NSW steps up as a Spin option in the next Sydney test. The only slight cloud is that Ricky Ponting had a poor return this time. He is one of our great batsman but is showing now that form slips as he nears the end of his career. It happened to Greg Chapell, and to Steve Waugh. Ponting has been a great but I hope he retires after he wins back the Ashes.

Posted by Benchman on (April 1, 2010, 1:26 GMT)

Australia are improving definetly.Though - I think the only teams like SA, India and england can give them enough trouble. On paper the batting line of INdia is no doubt the best with sehwag, Gambhir, Dravid, Sachin, Lakshman, Dhoni - what a line up and add to it Raina, Yuvraj or Badrinath. anyway Oz shouyld have young guns raedy and firing. They should paly with Watson,Katich, Ponting ( in very poor batting form now lacking confidence against the short ball and not scoring enough runs for the no 3 spot) Clarke,Hussye, Steven Smith, Haddin, Johnson, Hauritz,Bollinger and may be Harris or Hilfenhaus. The bowilng has 4x fast / fats medium bowlers and two spinners in smith and Hauritz. If thos attack develops it will be a better than all attacks in the world. They need an express bowler in place of Harris may be call up and persuade Tait to play Test Cricket again or unearth a fiery Right arm fast man . They also should include young players as reserves like, Hughes,Khwaja and others

Posted by redneck on (March 31, 2010, 22:25 GMT)

here, here jezzricho. i couldnt agree more! johnson's poor ashes series is the only blemish on his test career, the rest has been excellent! i dont know where some of these new south welshmen get off, they wont rest until they have all 11 test players comming from new south wales! they didnt even make the sheild final this year!

Posted by Rusty_1 on (March 31, 2010, 22:13 GMT)

Both teams are far below the 2005 standards. Neither team is much like the 2007 standard either. Both are closer to the standard of the 2009 teams. Both teams will do well in their respective home conditions and that's the reason Australia will win the 2010 ashes. You would expect KP & Strauss to do well for England cause they always stand up for the big games. I also expect Swan to fire & think I Broad should be suited to Australian conditions (seam movement). For Australia, Ponting & Hussey are like Strauss & KP - they stand up in the big matches. Bollinger & Johnson are superb in home conditions and will be the difference.

Posted by _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on (March 31, 2010, 21:09 GMT)

@Sir_Freddie_Flintoff. Its sort of funny though. Alot of commentators/experts/past players and what not kept on saying that the Aus attack will struggle to get 20 wickets. You also say they are not test standard. For a good while I kept on saying yea and agreeing....but lately I asked myself...which test attack right now won't struggle to get 20 wkts? Strangely enough, the Aussie test attack seems more potent than majority of the test attacks going around. Is this testament to the standard of test bowling these days or do we all need to reanalyze? Is it the media just saying stuff for argument sake or are the pitches too flat?

Posted by _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on (March 31, 2010, 20:58 GMT)

Should be a close-ish Ashes, which for all cricket fans should be a big moment in the test calender (it is a historical series after all). I think it will be about mentality more than anything. Ponting and Aus have shown so far that they are a much more daring and attacking team than Eng. Ponting's declarations cont to be very sporting and with his bowlers in form, you can bet on them to defend 400. They still seem,however to be prone to collapses, which will suit Eng style of play. Eng have shown that they still are into playing the "waiting game." It is a ploy that enables them to win "key" moments in a test BUT I still think they need to be more aggressive in order to move unto the next level, for Aus are rediscovering their habit of digging themselves out of holes. Swann is going to be their X-factor no doubt and alot depends also on the revived Ian Bell, I think more so than KP.

Posted by   on (March 31, 2010, 19:52 GMT)

ashes... haahhahahha.. how many times will Team Australia regain the Ashes. they might be coonsistent against other teams..Australians will be tested high in Ashes and against india. i accept that there was a team work inside to such victories. but these people are not the invincibles like Steve(waugh)'s and the pontings. Still Team australia need to find a perfect opening slot like Hayden & Langer. they sent the leather to all parts of the ground. katich miight fit to some extent. Watson can do the job of Steve's(as an alrounder) Punter is as good at his position.. the later middle order has to be consistent with the performance, just in case the top 3 will go on a low score. All the best Australia. Get back the No. spot from India. btw, am Indian.

Posted by ansram on (March 31, 2010, 19:19 GMT)

Australian bowling is not at all as good as it was during the time of Warne, Gillespe and McGrath. Pakistan, WI and NZ are depleted teams and series wins against these teams are not inidcators of bowling strength. Pak was torn by an internal crisis, WI has rarely been a competitive side for the last fifteen years and NZ has never been quite been among the top three teams.

Infact, all these three teams put up some sort of challenge which you would not expect against an Australian side ten years ago. I think Australia would prevail over England but it could be a stiff one for the Aussies.

Posted by   on (March 31, 2010, 18:56 GMT)

Can I ask what the issue is here with Ponting's alleged "overconfidence" and "arrogance"? All the man said was that Australia are as well-placed as they could expect to be at the end of the home summer. The phrases "England are a bunch of talentless no-hopers" or "we're going to thrash those hapless poms" are conspicuous by their absence. He didn't say Australia are better than England or that England are pathetic or that he expected the Ashes to be a stroll in the park. He said that his team had performed up to his expectations during the summer and that he was very happy with the cricket that they played. I will be the first to admit that early in his captaincy he was painfully rude but give the guy a break - he didn't say anything wrong, save the obloquy for when he does.

Posted by ZainHaq11 on (March 31, 2010, 18:47 GMT)

I am waiting for the time when Australia will have to decide between Mich, Siddle, Ben, Harris and Doug. Not to forget the fact that Clint Mckay is on standby and knocking on the door.

Posted by Simon_1 on (March 31, 2010, 15:29 GMT)

I am a neutral so all my views here are impartial. I expect Australia to start as favourites due to "home conditions" against England in next summers Ashes series but only just. But I agree with bingobob on Ponting being slightly "over-confident". He must remember that in this unbeaten summer he faced 3 sides poorer than England. Australia almost lost a test match against West Indies, Pakistan and here if New Zealand had applied themselves better with the bat Australia could have faced a 1-1 scoreline. While England should have lost 2-1 rather than a 1-1 draw to SA they have faced a far tougher workout than Australia have. The tour to Bangladesh in their home conditions was tough as well. Its good to be confident, Ponting, but don't be over-confident!!!

Posted by Simon_1 on (March 31, 2010, 15:25 GMT)

I am a neutral so all my views here are impartial. I expect Australia to start as favourites due to "home conditions" against England in next summers Ashes series but only just. But I agree with bingobob on Ponting being slightly "over-confident". He must remember that in this unbeaten summer he faced 3 sides poorer than England. Australia almost lost a test match against West Indies, Pakistan and here if New Zealand had applied themselves better with the bat Australia could have faced a 1-1 scoreline. While England should have lost 2-1 rather than a 1-1 draw to SA they have faced a far tougher workout than Australia have. The tour to Bangladesh in their home conditions was tough as well. Its good to be confident, Ponting, but don't be over-confident!!!

Posted by livinproof on (March 31, 2010, 15:06 GMT)

Sir Freddie's analysis of Australia's bowling stocks and suggestion that Strauss is some sort of master tactician compared to Ponting can only mean he's been partaking in lots of his namesakes favourite pastime before posting. Lock up your pedalos.

Posted by sidzy on (March 31, 2010, 14:13 GMT)

i think OZ will win the ashes but u r right its england best chance of winning the ashes. aus lack a genuine spinner but in aus eng bats seem to lack the temparament i would say 3-2 to aud. as far as beating some low ranked sides are concerned its good that aus faced these sides & were able to rebuild after all retirements and winning always gives u confidence

Posted by arcalis on (March 31, 2010, 14:04 GMT)

As an Englishman i'm very jelous of the depth and strength of the pace bowlers Australia have and because of this i expect them to regain the ashes but i don't expect it to be plain sailing. The weak links being North and Hauritz. Any time North has come to the crease under pressure he has failed. Hauritz's figures flatter to decieve and if Watson's injury troubles resurface Australia's stubborn habbit of just 4 bowlers (without his accurate seamers) may be their undoing. Fingers crossed.

Posted by Bollo on (March 31, 2010, 14:03 GMT)

More to the point, Australia have lost 1 of their last 30 test series at home, and drawn only 3. Nothing about this England team suggests they can achieve what many far better teams over this period have failed to do. In case anyone has forgotten all the hoopla preceding the last tour Downunder, England lost those 5 tests by 277runs, 6 wickets, 206 runs, an innings and 99 runs, and 10 wickets, and they haven`t won a `live` Ashes test in Aus for the best part of 25 years. Tell me again how it`s all going to be different this time around.

Posted by JimDavis on (March 31, 2010, 14:03 GMT)

1. Spin option still not good enough. 2. Keeper still not good enough. 3. Slip cordon still not good enough. 4. Batting still prone to colapse without warning. 5. At least the pace bowling stocks getting better with each series, even if it leaves us with a large number of good bowlers rather than a small number of excellent bowlers. Unfortunately I think it might take an Ashes lose at home to sort out the first 3. England, SA or India would not let Australia back into a match like NZ did in this second test.

Posted by JGuru on (March 31, 2010, 12:36 GMT)

Australia have certainly come a long way since The Ashes. Even though it could be argued that they got pitted against teams that lacked vigor, their performance speaks volumes for their mental strength. Post Brisbane test, Johnson apart, no other bowler had quite an international experience. Bollinger, McKay and now Harris have certainly proved that they can win Test matches. More over, most of the wins this summer has been quite emphatic and comprehensive. Barring Sydney test, Australia looked almost untroubled. Having said that, Australia will not underestimate the might of England and would be well aware of the importance of winning the coveted Urn back. If the batting department becomes even more consistent and Hauritz stays confident through out, I reckon the Aussies will remain very difficult to beat. More than anyone, Ponting has the hunger and urge to win back the little trophy and we can be pretty sure they will travel the extra mile to wipe away the bitter memories of 2009.

Posted by Bollo on (March 31, 2010, 12:35 GMT)

We hear the same stuff every time England come out to Aus. Fact remains that in the last 20years England have won 3 tests in Aus - all of them after the Ashes have been lost. Forgive me for remaining sceptical.

Posted by tragicmagic on (March 31, 2010, 10:26 GMT)

Ricky has a weakness against the Pom's and they know it. He is inclined to be too conservative in his captaincy and the selectors also have been conservative and slow to make changes at the right time. The pressure of playing the Pom's is the reason. Australia will need to avoid brain freeze and the best way is attack attack attack and get rid of the dead wood early. It will be interesting to see how Ponting plays his hand.

Posted by   on (March 31, 2010, 9:47 GMT)

Well done punter u gotta calculated mind,refrained from scoring 12000 mark ,prefered in front of home crowd

Posted by jezzricho on (March 31, 2010, 9:43 GMT)

Twopac - you wouldnt happen to be from NSW would you??? lol get a clue b4 you post silly biased comments mate

Posted by jezzricho on (March 31, 2010, 9:39 GMT)

Sir freddy flintoff...your an idiot! You dont think bollinger and johnson are test standard? There better then any fast bowler going around in England by FAR! any lefty who can swing it and bowl at 150kph is gonna be a first choice pick in any team mate! These two will single handedly rout the weak batting line up England have. Johnson was sooo poor in the ashes last year but has put that behind him now(England should aswell other wise they will be in for a rude shock) lol as for Englands talk about below test standards aahhh hahahaha there pathetic at best. If we play to our potential it will be Aus 5 - Eng 0, If we play solidly it will be Aus 3 - Eng 1, If we play as poor as last ashes it will be Aus 2 - Eng 2...but thats not gonna happen ;)

Posted by Mogadon on (March 31, 2010, 9:22 GMT)

Both sides are (still) in a similar state. Neither sides bowling has anyone quaking in their boots, both attacks are relatively inexperienced with no test regulars with a background of consistent achievement over several years, except perhaps Anderson who can be a touch mercurial. The batting for both teams is more experienced and more of a known and this is where I see a slight advantage for England with a middle order thats on the up rather than the down (North and Hussey). Ponting and Clarke have sufficient class to carry them but if they go quickly then there could be an advantage for England. It'll be a tight series, looking forward to it!

Posted by   on (March 31, 2010, 8:22 GMT)

England always flatter to deceive in Australian conditions. The home series for England demonstrate that they are a much stronger team at home than they are abroad. As a neutral, I would expect to see a fairly one-sided Ashes series if you look at history and recent results. I would say 3-1 to Australia. The England attack lacks genuine spearheads and I doubt Swann will be the threat he has been in Australian conditions. There quicks don't engender to much fear either. The English batting needs to get more resilient and productive for England to survive in Australia. Strauss, Cook, Pietersen and Collingwood will really need to find consistency to challenge Australia.

Posted by bingobob on (March 31, 2010, 8:07 GMT)

As an Australian I am horrified at the arrogance of Ponting. England have the best chance in more than 20 years to win the ashes (even though they won on 05 and 09, they still are better positioned now)... Beating 3 of the worst test teams does not mean that Australia have removed all their weaknesses. Australia still don't have a decent spin bowler, and there are selectors that are suggesting that Siddle and Hilfenhaus may be brought in (despite Bollinger and Harris showing they deserve their spots).I think England will be quietly confident.

Posted by Woody111 on (March 31, 2010, 6:17 GMT)

Yep, it will be a different England that tour this summer to that which poor Flintoff brought out last time. KP still has more to prove that he's back but he did well in Bangladesh. Swann will factor and Cook is starting to prove me wrong on his worth. The interesting thing will be if Bell finally shakes off his Ramprakash tag and nails a spot as Bopara will still be around the traps. Trott looks to mirror Collingwood's feat at being the most boring batsman in cricket (well, with Katich). I'm still not sure of the pace bowling though - Broad needs to be careful he stays fit and Bresnan and Finn have work to do but early signs are good. Still reckon we'll flog you 5 zip though!

Posted by AJ_Tiger86 on (March 31, 2010, 6:17 GMT)

Australia should not get carried away with victories against hopeless teams. Their bowling attack still is not upto test standards. Siddle, Johnson, Bollinger and Hauritz are by no stretch of the imagination quality bowlers. On the other hand, England have not and are not likely to find a replacement for Flintoff any time soon. But England's biggest advantage is the captaincy of Strauss. Ponting is a far inferior captain to Strauss. So, all in all, the Ashes down under will be a good one.

Posted by twopac on (March 31, 2010, 5:32 GMT)

Everything that has been said about Australia's test summer is true. Great performances and unbeaten except for the Adelaide test. But the nagging feeling is that England will be quite a task next summer. The top six cannot afford to crumble like they've done in Sydney and Hamilton. The attack is getting better every test, but no Warne or McGrath means that England will be quietly confident, especially with KP getting back into form. Australia must use the Pakistan series in England to bring in Steve Smith and Usman Khawaja in place of Hussey and North. Steve Smith is an All-rounder that has the ability to score hundreds at no. 6 and Usman Khawaja can finally let Ricky have some rest at no.4 by coming in at first drop. If successful in England, and the selectors still retain North and Hussey for their experience next summer, it wouldn't hurt to see what Smith and Khawaja are like at the elite level. Remember '05 and '09 Ricky? must have a balance of youth & experience!

Posted by popcorn on (March 31, 2010, 5:29 GMT)

Ricky Ponting is absolutely right. There are no weak links in the Team. Solid batting depth,solid bowling depth, and agile fielding.There is always room for improvement, and looking ahead, to the Ashes and beyond,I suggest the following actions:1) Steven Smith should be carefully groomed, played in the Tests against Pakistan later this year, and in the ODIs in India.2) Philip Hughes should perfect his technique against the short ball under the tutelage of Greg Chappell at the Centre of Excellence at Brisbane.3) The throw -downs for run-outs can improve,so Tim Nielsen and Mike Young should work on that. 4) Shane Watson should be tutored on Slip fielding. 5) The slip fielders and wicket Keeper should be given "live" training on communication,and understanding - is this my catch? 6) Fitness Training,run-ups,should be focussed on.

Posted by Vindaliew on (March 31, 2010, 5:24 GMT)

Ponting should be wary of his overconfidence. The calendar has been rather lopsided for Australia, not pitting them against any team expected to really push them. West Indies, Pakistan and New Zealand were all expected to just roll over in the face of Australian might, and yet the Windies drew one and threatened to pull an upset. Pakistan also gave Australia a scare before it all fell apart. England, on the other hand, went through a gruelling series against South Africa, although Bangladesh's good performance against them will be encouraging to Australia.

It's like Australia, through no fault of their own, spent time preparing for the Ashes sparring below their category, while England at least had a good work out with South Africa. Australia might still win, of course, but beating (and failing to clean sweep) three teams ranked below England in the test standings should not allow Australia to take the Ashes for granted.

Comments have now been closed for this article

Email Feedback Print
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.
Tour Results
New Zealand v Australia at Hamilton - Mar 27-31, 2010
Australia won by 176 runs
New Zealand v Australia at Wellington - Mar 19-23, 2010
Australia won by 10 wickets
New Zealand v Australia at Wellington - Mar 13, 2010
New Zealand won by 51 runs
New Zealand v Australia at Auckland - Mar 11, 2010
Australia won by 6 wickets (with 17 balls remaining) (D/L method)
New Zealand v Australia at Hamilton - Mar 9, 2010
Australia won by 6 wickets (with 16 balls remaining)
More results »
News | Features Last 3 days
News | Features Last 3 days