Ponting believes there is nothing stopping either nation from winning the series
Fresh off a draw in the first Test against the South Africans at The Gabba in Brisbane, former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has announced that both nations have a lot in common with each other.
In 2009, despite being labelled as the underdogs, Ponting led his men to victory over South Africa in their backyard, which allowed them to keep hold of the world number one Test ranking.
Fast forward three years later and it is South Africa’s turn to be branded as the underdogs as they head down under looking to retain their world number one Test team ranking, which they took from England over the summer.
In the past four years, South Africa and Australia have each won four Tests apiece and Ponting is calling on his team-mates to realise how similar both teams really are.
“I don’t think there’s anything negative at all about being an underdog going into a series, South Africa are deservedly the No. 1 team in the world. But I think the gap between them and us is not that great. When we were No. 1 we knew we had everyone chasing us. South Africa are certainly going to know over the next few weeks that they’ve got a very good cricket team chasing them and trying to take that No. 1 mantle away,” Ponting said.
With two Test matches remaining, South Africa will look to be victorious in both and end their record of not having won two consecutive Tests out of their last 20.
In contrast, Australia have won eight of their last 10 Test matches, which gives them a slight edge heading into the final two Tests at Adelaide and Perth.
“I don’t know what makes them tick, I don’t know what makes them worried about big occasions in games, all I know is that when we’ve played our best for long periods of time against South Africa we’ve managed to have a lot of success. We know what it is that makes us play our best cricket. We know what makes us achieve great results. We just have to do those things better than South Africa do for five days,” Ponting added.
Even before the start of the first Test at Brisbane, many cricket pundits believed this series was going to come down to which side had the better bowling attack.
“The attack that we put out last year will be very similar to what we go out with in our conditions and conditions that we know very well, all the guys, Siddle and Pattinson especially, have got a lot of first-class cricket under their belt and have taken a lot of wickets at the start of the summer. We have to know that the way we bowled and the way we played last year was somewhere near our best and if we produce that again, it doesn’t matter what batting line-up we’re bowling to, we’ll take 20 wickets in a Test match. We’ve got some areas for their batsmen that we’re going to target. Our young quicks are dying to get out there and have a crack at some of their top-order players. You can expect some fireworks. Some of their top order can expect a lot of short balls as well, that’s an area that we think we can really attack them,” Ponting said.
Despite having been able to handle Morne Morkel in the past by limiting him to 23 wickets at an average of 38.21, Australia still have Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander to worry about.
Ponting will clearly remember how Steyn and Philander ripped through the Australian lineup with relative ease in last year’s two-Test series, which ended as a 1-1 draw.
“I think we’ve played him well in the past, when you’re that tall and you bang the ball into the wicket you tend to get more bounce than the shorter fast bowlers do. I think that’s his great weapon. We’ve had a look at what he’s done over the last few series… if anything he’s managed to bowl a little bit fuller the last few years than he did before that, which has probably enabled him to have more success,” Ponting said about Morkel.
The second Test between Australia and South Africa is scheduled to begin on November 22 in Adelaide.