South Africa v Australia, 2nd Test, Durban, 5th day

Proud of how we bounced back - Ponting

Brydon Coverdale in Durban

March 10, 2009

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Ricky Ponting: "To be able to bounce back and win the way that we have here against a side that no one thought we could beat makes the achievement even more special for me" © AFP

Ricky Ponting has captained Australia to an Ashes clean sweep and two World Cup triumphs but never has he been prouder of his players than after they wrapped up their series victory in South Africa. Leading a vastly inexperienced side that few expected to succeed, Ponting guided his men to wins in Johannesburg and Durban to ensure they held on to the world No. 1 Test ranking.

"I'm extremely proud of the players," Ponting said. "This is as happy as I've been in my whole career as an Australian player. This is a great achievement from this team, and I'm sure there will be a lot of people back home in Australia really proud of what the team has done."

Players like Phillip Hughes, Marcus North and Ben Hilfenhaus were untried at Test level before this tour while a string of other squad members were still making their names. Ponting said the win was "certainly right up there" with any of his other achievements in the Australia side, largely because they entered the series as underdogs following their defeat at home against South Africa.

"To be able to bounce back and win the way that we have here against a side that no one thought we could beat makes the achievement even more special for me," Ponting said. "World Cups are great, Ashes 06-07 was an amazing achievement to win that 5-0, bouncing back the same sort of way that we have now.

"I'm not putting it above any of those but if you look at our group of players, and you all did I know very carefully, that we were bringing away on this tour, there'll be a lot of people around the world who didn't think that this was achievable. So for us to have achieved what we have done over this week would make this win as special as any that I've been a part of."

Ponting has become used to being in charge of the world's No. 1 side over the past few years. South Africa took the top Test ranking only briefly in 2003 but Ponting said the ICC championship mace had been the furthest thing from his mind as this tour approached.

"I haven't mentioned the trophy once around this whole group because it's not the reason we play," Ponting said. "We play to win games of cricket for Australia and to do the best that we can for each other as a group of players. Whatever happens as a result of that, happens. If silverware comes your way then great, but that's not the reason that we play the game."

Australia will enter the third Test in Cape Town searching for a 3-0 result, the kind of clean sweep that used to be commonplace for Ponting's sides. Although some of their young bodies will be sore and sorry after back-to-back Tests, the squad has nine days to recover before the Newlands Test begins on Thursday March 19.

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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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.
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Series/Tournaments: Australia tour of South Africa
Tour Results
South Africa v Australia at Johannesburg - Apr 17, 2009
Australia won by 47 runs
South Africa v Australia at Port Elizabeth - Apr 13, 2009
South Africa won by 61 runs
South Africa v Australia at Cape Town - Apr 9, 2009
South Africa won by 25 runs
South Africa v Australia at Centurion - Apr 5, 2009
South Africa won by 7 wickets (with 142 balls remaining)
South Africa v Australia at Durban - Apr 3, 2009
Australia won by 141 runs
More results »
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News | Features Last 3 days