Ponting’s Ashes fate will be decided upon how he performs in the next couple of series
Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has revealed that losing the previous two Ashes series to arch-rivals England has encouraged him to work harder in order to retain his spot on the nation’s Test squad.
When England and Australia clash next year, Ponting will already by 38, and he knows that if he does not perform well in the upcoming series against South Africa, then there will be no Ashes series for him.
Ponting has already had his ODI career ended when selectors dropped him from the squad earlier this year, and the former captain does not want to see the same thing happen to his Test career.
While many of his Australian team-mates will be in the United Arab Emirates to play a limited overs series against Pakistan, Ponting will use the time to work on his game, and try to regain some form ahead of the South Africa series.
Ponting’s visions of former England captain Michael Vaughan and current captain Andrew Strauss lifting the urn at The Oval has spurred him on even more.
Speaking exclusively to ABC radio, Ponting said: “It’s one of the biggest motivators I have right now. Every morning I get up and go to the gym and I’m pounding away on the bike or the treadmill, it’s with some of the memories of The Oval still in my mind from the last couple of tours, they’re things that don’t go away quickly. We’ve been very close over there on the last couple of tours, haven’t quite been good enough and we were nowhere good enough when England were in Australia last time. I think all Australian Test players have a point to prove to England and probably more of a point to prove in England.”
But, even though Ponting’s focus is on the Ashes series next year, he knows that he cannot get ahead of himself, as Australia host South Africa and Sri Lanka at home before heading to India and then moving on to the back-to-back Ashes series against England.
Australia will tour England first before England head down under barely six months later.
Even though Ponting will be 39 at the time when England come to Australia, Ponting has not ruled himself out of playing the series just yet.
“It might be easier to sustain now that I’m only playing one form of the game, the amount of cricket that I’ve played over the last 15 years is pretty immense, 160-odd Tests and 370 one-dayers… that’s a lot of cricket. Now that I’m not playing that one-day side of things I’m playing a few [Sheffield] Shield games this year, a few Ryobi Cup games, I’ll get a few more Hurricanes games this year, but as far as where do I end, that all depends on how my hunger is and how I’m playing and how my form is,” Ponting said.
“We’ve got 18 months of some of the most competitive Test cricket that we’ve had in a long time: South Africa in Australia, India in India and then the Ashes, back-to-back series pretty much. It doesn’t get any bigger or better than that for an Australian cricketer. If I can make it through to the end of that, that would be great. If I can play well enough to have an impact on some wins through that period that would be great as well. Really for me all I can focus on now is being right for the start of November,” Ponting added.
However, Ponting must make sure he performs well in the next couple of series if he is not to lose his spot on the Test roster to one of the young and upcoming batsman such as George Bailey, Peter Forrest or David Hussey.
But, Ponting noted that if he were to lose his place, he would accept it and move on.
“If there’s someone out there better than me that is breathing down my neck and pushing me out the side, that’s international sport, if there’s someone better than Michael Hussey or David Warner that’s the way it is. You have to be picking the best team to win every game you play. I honestly think if we play the way these guys can play and we just do things that little bit better … they’ll find it hard to beat us – I don’t care who we play,” Ponting said.