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Aussies eye Ashes whitewash

December 28, 2006 19:12 IST

Australia captain Ricky Ponting said his team's dream of completing an Ashes series whitewash is now a reality after their crushing win over England in the fourth Test in Melbourne on Thursday.

Australia sealed their biggest home win over England since 1954 when they humiliated the tourists by an innings and 99 runs inside three days to head into next week's final Test in Sydney with a 4-0 lead.

The only time a team has won an Ashes series 5-0 was in 1920-21 when Warwick Armstrong's Australians demolished England at home, but Ponting said his side have a real chance of emulating that success.

"You can't ever take for granted winning a Test match, it's not an easy thing to do," Ponting told a news conference.

"It's hard work, but we have an opportunity now to create something very special for this team in Sydney and we'll be giving it the best shake we can to try and win that game."

Sydney is looming as an emotional occasion for Australia's players with Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath both retiring from Test cricket, but Ponting said all his players would approach the match like any other.

He said they would be given two days off training after wrapping up the fourth Test inside three days before focussing on their build-up for Sydney.

"There's a great feeling among the guys in the team and we're playing some great cricket," he said.

"I don't think we have to focus on any outcomes, we just have to focus on the process and if we get that right along the way.

"We have a great opportunity now with a couple of days to really get away from cricket and when we do hit the training track in Sydney we make sure that we're ready to go and carry a bit of that good training and feeling into the game."

DEMORALISED ENGLAND

Ponting was reluctant to criticise England's lacklustre performance in Melbourne but said the manner of their defeat could have demoralising effect on the tourists.

"After losing a game like they have here in three days after winning the toss, then I think they would be pretty demoralised at the moment," Ponting said.

"I guess when you're in a situation like that you just have to play for personal and team pride, that's about all you can do.

"England wouldn't be happy with their performance here, no doubt about that.

"When we are playing as well as we are and we're on a bit of a run then I'm sure all those little doubts they have in their mind after the first and second Tests, those little doubts turn into big doubts through this series."

Australia's determination to complete a series whitewash is a direct result of the disappointment they felt at losing the Ashes in England last year.

The Australian players all took note of England's wild celebrations with their players paraded around London on open-top buses, drinking champagne and meeting the Queen, and decided on a ruthless and calculated plan to exact their revenge.

"I think we are playing very well. When there's big moments in this series we've won them very convincingly," Ponting said.

"That was one thing we didn't do in the last series. Whenever a big moment came up, we made a little mistake and allowed England back into the game and we haven't done that this time.

"When you are playing cricket at the standard we have without making mistakes, it really doesn't matter who you play."

 

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