Australia are in danger of being under-prepared for the first Test starting on Thursday after Ricky Ponting said his players could take days to recover from Sunday's record-breaking loss. The side should look to the Test specialists Shane Warne, Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden to pull them out of the trough created by their failure to defend 4 for 434 at Johannesburg.
Ponting said in the Daily Telegraph he was worried the damage might last until the Test, but the players would try to forget what happened. "We are really disappointed at the moment and I'm sure that will hang around a little while, to tell you the truth," Ponting said. "Hopefully not too many of those mental scars hang around this week."
He was also concerned that the South Africans would receive a huge boost from the victory, which was set up by Herschelle Gibbs's 175. "South Africa can obviously gain a lot from that," he said. "They'll still have quite a few of this squad in their Test squad. There's a pretty short turnaround until the Test match and we've got to get away and work hard."
As Australia's bowlers were being thrashed, Ponting wished he could call on Shane Warne, who retired from ODIs in 2003. There has been talk about whether Warne will return for the 2007 World Cup, but the team seems to need him sooner than that after it was rocked by Mick Lewis's world-record return of 0 for 113 in ten overs. "It would be nice to have Warney out there," Ponting said. "We picked a side that we thought was good enough to win. And we made enough runs to win. We just weren't good enough with the ball.
"I don't know what Warney's going to do. There's been a bit of speculation about him playing one-day cricket again. We'll have to wait and see."
Ponting defended his use of Lewis in the final stages as South Africa swept home with Mark Boucher's unbeaten 50. "He's the guy in our side to do that," Ponting said in The Courier-Mail. "That's his job, and as the captain you've got to go to your best."