Ponting: We were outclassed

Ricky Ponting’s post-match team talk is not for public airing, after Australia’s landslide defeat in the second Ashes Test.

But it is hard to see how he could have indulged in much more straight talking in the confines of the dressing room than he did in his subsequent press conference.

Ponting, twice an Ashes loser as captain in England but a 5-0 winner at home in between, knows his team must win at least two of the three remaining matches to get their hands back on the urn this winter.

He must be aware too that they urgently need to either identify reinforcements or somehow galvanise themselves into players who can make match-controlling totals and take 20 wickets.

It was Andrew Strauss’ England who achieved both those objectives to wrap up victory on the final morning at the Adelaide Oval, on the back of Kevin Pietersen’s career-best 227 and the 13 wickets shared by James Anderson and Graeme Swann.

Ponting’s brutally honest verdict will confirm to his team-mates that they are currently operating way below their captain’s requirements.

“There’s no doubt this is a bad loss for us,” he said.

“An innings and 71 runs, having won the toss on a good wicket, says it all.

“They out-batted, bowled and fielded us this entire game.”

Ponting and Australia’s task is to try to put things right before the third Test in Perth on December 16.

“We’ve done a lot of talking about how we’re going to change and rectify things, but our actions have let us down. We understand that,” he said.

“England played very well – no hiding that.

“The week off will do the boys the world of good, to get away and have a think about what they and we need to do to work our way back into the series.

“We have to win two Tests to win the Ashes – and we’ll have to play better than we have in the last Test and a half.”

Ponting is insistent, though, that Australia’s current failings do not stem from a lack of hard work or intent.

He said: “I’ll never doubt that about any player that plays for Australia.

“There has been no lack of fight or endeavour (from us). It’s been our skills and thought processes that have let us down.

“We’ve talked a lot about how important it is to fight and win key moments.”

They lost one of those ‘moments’ last night, when part-time off-spinner Pietersen had Michael Clarke caught at bat and pad with the last ball of day four after a fighting innings of 80.

“On Monday afternoon we gave ourselves a bit of a chance,” Ponting added.

“Losing that wicket last night broke our back a bit, but England ran on with that this morning.

“Swann bowled very well, and the quicks toiled away.”

Ponting cannot accept either that England have suddenly surged past his team in terms of ability in the space of a week – after Australia dominated the early stages of the drawn first Test in Brisbane.

“After the first three days at the Gabba, it looked like we were playing good cricket and had a group of players good enough to win the series,” he said.

“Now, it probably looks as though we’ll have to be at our absolute best to work our way back in.

“There’s nothing we’d change preparation, personnel wise. Everything was how we wanted it. Purely and simply, we’ve been outplayed.

“They’re playing well, but a week ago people were saying the teams evenly matched and Australia were favourites.

“I don’t think they’ve improved that much since or we’ve gone that far backwards – even though the scoreboards look that way.”

Ponting is as hard on himself as any of his team-mates, and knows he can do better with the bat – just as surely as Australia must do better at everything.

“It’s a great challenge for me,” he said.

“I have to make some runs as well, simple as that.

“To make nine in two innings on that wicket is nowhere near good enough for me.

“My expectations for myself are a lot higher than that.

“The challenge is to score runs and captain the side well in Perth and give us the chance to get back into the series.”

Meanwhile, Australia opener Simon Katich has almost certainly been ruled out of the remainder of the Ashes series because of an Achilles tendon injury.

Leave a Comment