Ponting sends out Ashes warning

Ricky Ponting, the Australian captain, feels that Australia are better prepared now to reclaim the Ashes which they surrendered last year, after their 2-0 series-clinching win at Durban

Cricinfo staff

Ricky Ponting feels Australia have regrouped fully after their Ashes loss last year © Getty Images
Ricky Ponting, the Australian captain, feels that the team is better prepared now to reclaim the Ashes which they surrendered last year, after their series-clinching win against South Africa at Durban. He admitted that Australia had no option but to get back to the drawing board after their loss to England, and are now reaping the benefits.
Speaking to reporters at the end of the match, Ponting said, "We've looked at ourselves and looked at the team. We've identified areas where we can improve. We've got more coaching staff in place and we feel we're better prepared now for Test matches than we were before. More importantly, we've got players putting their hands up, which was maybe lacking a bit in the Ashes."
Ponting and Shane Warne were the two main contributors in Australia's victory, with Ponting's centuries in both innings and Warne's 6 for 86 in South Africa's second innings which sealed the victory in fading light. Ponting was off the field on Tuesday due to a bout of food poisoning, while Adam Gilchrist took charge.
Ponting said, "With the cricket on I found it pretty hard to sleep, so I laid back and watched the boys win a Test match. There's lots of emotion in the dressing-room, it was a great series win for us."
Warne, the Man of the Match, was also relieved to get his rhythm back and praised the South Africans for their character, a refreshing change after indulging in verbal volleys with Graeme Smith, the South African captain, before the series.
"I wasn't that happy with the way I bowled in the first Test for a number of reasons, one of which was I didn't have much rhythm," said Warne. "In this game I didn't bowl that well the first afternoon but I was spinning the ball today and I just had to be patient.
"We had to work hard for our victory. It was easy at tea time for us to get too far ahead of ourselves, and think we could just rock 'n' roll, but they showed some fire. South Africa are a good side. They're hard to beat."
Smith too found the time to praise Warne, citing him as the difference between saving the game and losing.
He said, "I believe if they didn't have a world-class spinner, we could have got through today. He got the key wickets. In a sense, he's getting better and better every year, and he's proven that. Whatever he does, he knows he's got an incredible talent and an incredible ability."
Smith also compared his role as captain to that of the film Groundhog Day, where the protagonist endures the monotony of living the same day over and over again, leaving him jaded, along the lines of the frequency in which the two sides have been playing each other over the last few months. With the final Test to be played, he was confident his side would bounce back.
"To play someone for four or five months definitely takes its toll, it's like Groundhog Day some times. But I know the guys will be ready and be giving 100%."