Australia v England, 3rd Test, Perth, 4th day December 19, 2010

Unchanged Australia take confidence from Perth


Ricky Ponting has told his team to maintain its newly-found high standards after Australia's breakthrough victory ended a five-Test winless streak and squared the Ashes series. The crushing 267-run success gave the hosts some much-needed momentum as the sides heads to Melbourne for a Boxing Day Test that will now be a blockbuster.

"We got a nice old hiding in Adelaide last week and so to bounce back as drastically and dramatically as we have done, it says a lot about us and where we're at," Ponting said after missing the final morning with a broken little finger. The result caused a dramatic shift as the campaign swung in a similar way to the see-sawing 2009 Ashes in England.

"There was a lot of emotion in this win, we hadn't had much to celebrate up to now," Ponting said. "We have now set a new set of standards this week, this is the best way for us to play our cricket, and we have to maintain those standards. We have had a better team performance here than we have for a long time and it is important we don't take this for granted, but make sure this win is significant."

Australia have picked an unchanged 12 for Melbourne and have the option of adding a standby player if Ponting's injury continues to be a problem. Phillip Hughes and Steven Smith held their spots after unconvincing contributions and Michael Beer retains his place as Australia seek stability.

Beer, the left-arm spinner, was released to play for Western Australia in their Sheffield Shield loss to Tasmania and went wicket-less in 11 overs. Australia had huge success with a four-pronged pace attack at the WACA but will need more variety on the drop-in surface in Melbourne, where Beer is in line to debut in front of a crowd that could top 90,000.

"He's grown up in Melbourne his whole life, so he'll know what the conditions are going to be pretty much down there," Ponting said of Beer. "Whether he plays or not will depend on what the wicket looks like a couple of days before the game."

After the innings thrashing in Adelaide, Ponting thought "here we go again" when Australia slumped to 5 for 69 on the first day, but they recovered through the batting of Michael Hussey, Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson. Johnson then surged Australia ahead in England's first innings before he and Ryan Harris finished off the match.

The Australians were the target of fierce criticism after their performances in the first two Ashes Tests and this was the first time they have sung the team song since they beat Pakistan at Lord's in July. "It has been warranted," Ponting said of the public and media reaction over the past month. "Yes, it has been pretty harsh, but you expect that when you're not performing the way people want you to perform. That is the way the team has taken it.

"We've not been that worried about it, we've just tried to be better to give you guys something good to say about us and we've done that this week. The feeling around our group has been great and nothing has changed. I've just waited for it to click together like it has done this week and that is what makes me so proud of the guys."

The last Ashes series had a handful of key turning points and this campaign has a familiar feel as two solid sides trade blows without any knock-outs. England won the second game at Lord's after being out-played in the drawn opener, while Australia drew level in the fourth Test before losing the match and the urn at The Oval.

Ponting said his side had gained momentum and confidence after failing to grab it in Brisbane and Adelaide. "We've got the tide going back in our direction now and, more importantly, we've got some of our key players going well," he said. "Like Mitchell, who is on top of the world and has as much confidence as he's ever had in his career.

"Mike Hussey is in the same boat, as is [Shane Watson], Ryan Harris, Ben Hilfenhaus and Brad Haddin, so we've got a number of guys playing somewhere near their best and that is why I'm confident in this group. It is amazing what impact confidence and that winning feeling amongst the group can have. It can make the team achieve some special things."

Australia squad Shane Watson, Phillip Hughes, Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey, Steven Smith, Brad Haddin (wk), Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle, Michael Beer, Ben Hilfenhaus.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on December 23, 2010, 20:17 GMT

    Hauritz is the best spinner in the country at the moment, and a very handy bat---he has scored two recent centuries. But a bad tour of India now means that the selectors seem to be saying "you will no longer play for Australia". Even Warne never did well in India--but the selectors neglect that fact. Melbourne and Sydney are nothing like Perth and Australia needs a decent spinner. Honestly, can you say Beer is better than Hauritz--get real. With no quality spinner, I can't see Australia winning the Ashes. I can see Swan and Panesar wreaking havoc in Sydney---yes, England may play two spinners in Sydney, and with the selectors not willing to play Hauritz, our best spinner, and Sydney and Melbourne not having the bounce of Perth, spin friendly Sydney, you would still have to favour England

  • Craig on December 22, 2010, 15:23 GMT

    @BPWC White is not in form - he's averaging 28 in the shield. Hodge hasn't even played a shield game.

  • John on December 22, 2010, 5:07 GMT

    Ponting seems to be under the impression that Australia are now playing well. That simply isn't true. Hussey is batting well and holding the side together and even so Australia made less than 600 runs for 20 wickets in both the last two tests (they only made 28 more at Perth than at Adelaide). Johnson and Harris took 18 of the 20 English wickets in Perth, on a pitch that isn't likely to be repeated in Melbourne or Sydney. Johnson's spell of 4/7 was brilliant, but he doesn't have a history of consistency. Harris used the fast bounce and movement of Perth better than anyone, but he only got 2/84 at Adelaide and he was the best of the Aussie bowlers there. After that there's nothing much; Hilf hasn't bowled as well as I thought he would and Siddle has taken exactly one wicket in the last 2 tests and that was one of the luckiest dismissals he will ever get. No top-class spinner and 4 of the top 6 bats not contributing- that's not good form. It's England's turn to bounce back.

  • Hammad on December 21, 2010, 12:40 GMT

    yup thats right.....The Mighty Aussies are back in the business again!!!! Love to see Australia back to winning ways , but the job is not done yet ..there are two tests remaining and you guyz must also remember that if England wins any one of the two tests they are going to retain the Ashes

  • Dummy4 on December 21, 2010, 11:30 GMT

    For most people Australia's victory in the last test was very unexpected. Australia's team selection throughout the series has been so poor. I feel they have tried everything possible to keep Hauritz out of the team selection. Doherty was a terrible decision for the first 2 tests. North was and is a better bowler than Doherty. For a balanced side the Aussies need a quality spinner in the team. Hauritz should be in the starting XI for sure. Based on the series so far Australia are heavily reliant on the 5 players on form Hussey, Watson, Haddin, Harris and Johnson. They need few of the other six to start playing. Ponting looks nervous as a batsman. He needs to go back to basics and start playing game that has made him a great cricketer. Clarke and Hughes are really struggling too. Hilfenhaus should be dropped and surely Bollinger is a better option if fit. I think it will be an interesting game and if Australia lose it will because they'll be missing a quality spinner. Over and Out.

  • Matt on December 21, 2010, 11:06 GMT

    This is a huge mistake, and as a Melbourne local i am sad to see Australia will pay for it with the ashes.

    Hauritz must play ahead of Beer, and the team cannot afford 5 passengers in the team like Hughes, Clarke and Ponting (and Smith for that matter). There are much more in form batsmen in the country like White, D Hussey, Hodge, Khawaja, Klinger or maybe even Ferguson or Marsh.

    As good an investment in the future Smith is, he can't possibly play as a batsman in the same class as Bell.

  • Ashwin on December 21, 2010, 9:33 GMT

    if aus want to win in Melbourne they need to play a spinner its a flat pitch and swann will have a good time on it. Hughes has been a failure for aus on many occasions plz give some one else a chance steven smith isn't ready for test cricket yet and hilfy and siddlel are basically hopeless when will stupid ponting and the selectors learn when their are other players who can take hughes and smiths spot and score runs and also replace hilfi and siddle and get wickets

  • Kerry on December 21, 2010, 3:07 GMT

    Pretty much the same view as Warren Smith. If selectors are going to insist on including a spinner, surely it has to be O'Keefe. He's the only one in the country with a 1st-class avg < 40. To expect Beer, Hauritz or Smith to make significant inroads into world-class batting line-ups is ridiculous. Prefer to see 4 quicks: Johnson, Harris, & two out of Bollinger (if fit), Hilfenhaus & Copeland (also quite economical). Variety is nice, but it's a bit like SAf in the 1990s: you can't pick what you don't have. Lately, it seems like the selectors are trying to invent a spinner. Smith's batting looks inept, but selectors will retain him because half the batting line-up is out of form, his age & the fact that he bowls a bit of spin. They'll probably end up carrying a half-baked all-rounder in the side for a few series until finally they realise he's not the future of Aus cricket. With so many batsmen failing to deliver, you wonder why selectors have gone for the struggling Hughes over Khawaja.

  • Ashwin on December 21, 2010, 3:00 GMT

    if aus want to win in Melbourne they need to play a spinner its a flat pitch and swann will have a good time on it. Hughes has been a failure for aus on many occasions plz give some one else a chance steven smith isn't ready for test cricket yet and hilfy and siddlel are basically hopeless when will stupid ponting and the selectors learn when their are other players who can take hughes and smiths spot and score runs and also replace hilfi and siddle and get wickets

  • jules on December 21, 2010, 1:52 GMT

    i've seen grannie's on walkers with better foot work than hughes has at the moment .this kid will never recover from the damage being done to him by the incompetance of hilditch

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