Ricky Ponting, under fire at home for being the first Australian captain in 16 years to lose the Ashes, believes his side is still the world's number one team.
Speaking to the Herald Sun newspaper before the start of the ICC Super Series one-day internationals, Ponting admitted the domestic reaction following the series defeat and the criticism had hurt him.
"It has annoyed me since arriving home from England and the way some people have reacted, you'd think we'd lost the series five-zip. We acknowledge England deserved the win, but it's about performing at that level over a number of years.
"We have done that and remain number one in the world."
But Ponting did warn his players that they need to prove they still have the ability and toughness to be considered the best team in the world. "A lot of the squad hasn't played in a losing series and they know reputations are on the line. They know we have to prove ourselves again and I think they will respond to the challenge."
The Super Series one-day internationals and the six-day Test, he said, were opportunities for the side to recoup and rebuild. "They know the job has to be done and if you go a stretch without success, there's blokes breathing down our necks."
Ponting also dismissed suggestions made last week by Michael Slater that dropping Damien Martyn was about more than just his loss of form. Slater said last week that Martyn's demise might have been caused by a falling out with key personnel within the team's ranks. Ponting refuted the charge, "I think that's complete rubbish and I certainly don't think we've seen the last of Marto. We were all a bit shocked when he was dropped last week but I think he'll fight his way back."
Ponting's captaincy also came under fire during and after the Ashes by a number of ex-players, including Dennis Lillee. Lillee claimed that Shane Warne had played the captain's role through the series and called for Ponting to be replaced by Warne. Ponting admitted that he needed to lift his on-field presence.
"I will continue to seek the advice of my senior players and that's my style. But I agree I need to display more assertiveness on the field and put my stamp on things overall."
He also hinted that not playing all-rounder Shane Watson during the Ashes might have been a mistake, one he will be keen to rectify for the one-off Test. Watson is likely to play as a fifth bowler in the one-of Test leaving Simon Katich and Brad Hodge to fight it out for the middle-order batting spot. "I would have liked another bowling option during the Ashes. It would be handy to have a medium-pace option in our top six and Shane fits the bill."