England switched Ashes venues on purpose - Ponting

Ricky Ponting will lead Australia's defence of the Ashes Getty Images

Ricky Ponting believes the Ashes schedule was changed deliberately to avoid England hosting the opening game at Lord's, a ground they haven't beaten Australia at in 75 years. The contest will start instead at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff from July 8, the first time a five-day fixture has been held in Wales.

"Last time we played the first Test of the series at Lord's, and we felt comfortable with that because we almost knew we were going to get off to a good start," Ponting said in the Sun-Herald. "There are places you turn up where players know that Australian teams have had success before, and it makes you feel a bit more comfortable playing there.

"There was a fair bit of talk about it last time, starting the Ashes at Lord's, given our record. This time around, it will be the second Test match, and I've got no doubt they changed it on purpose."

Australia have not lost a game at Lord's since 1934 and it was the ground where they had their only success in 2005. Despite a 239-run victory in the opening match, they went on to lose 2-1 and end their 16-year hold on the urn. In 34 Tests at the home of cricket they have won 15 and lost five.

"There's all these big boards up around the rooms, and you want to get your name on those boards at Lord's," Ponting said. "That's one thing that I'll be certainly looking to do because I haven't done very well there. I've made a one-day hundred there, but not done so well in Tests."