Home > Cricket > Australia's tour of India > Report
Ponting raring to go
Deepti Patwardhan in Mumbai |
October 23, 2004 17:28 IST
After a four-week break from cricket due to injury, Ricky Ponting arrived in India on Saturday morning cheerful as ever. The thumb is yet to recover and the batting average in India (12.41) needs to be set straight, but the skipper is all excited to be a part of the action.
"It's nice to be in the thick of things again," he said. "I was looking forward to improve my average in India, considering the next time Australia tour here will be in 2010.
"In a way it has been more frustrating watching the series from the sidelines since Australia has done so well. I wanted to play a big part in it as a batsman and as a captain."
The Tasmanian was greeted in the city with the news of Sachin Tendulkar confirming his availability for the third Test. The Australia skipper is only too happy to have another world-class player joining the contest.
"His absence has been disappointing from the spectators' point of view. It will definitely give the Indian team confidence but the Australians are prepared for him. I think we always want to test ourselves against the best."
Under the leadership of Adam Gilchrist the team has shed its aggression but looked very purposeful. Gilchrist confessed his discomfiture at the helm on arrival in India but said he will steer the team in the direction charted by Ponting and coach John Buchanan.
"Gilly's done a great job so far," said Ponting, "I am happy the team has stuck to the finer details and being 1-0 up going into the third Test has been a good effort for us.
"We learned a lot from the last series  and the series against Sri Lanka earlier this year. That's probably the way you have to play in the subcontinent, through disciplined and patient cricket. In the first innings of the second Test, from 136 for none we went down 235 all out. That shows the contest can change quickly if you move away from the game plan.
"We have also set different fields [to the batsman] from the usual Australian strategy and all of them have worked for us."
Ponting will be with the team from the third Test in Nagpur but will play only in the last match, scheduled to begin on November 3, in Mumbai.
"I've had no batting at all and I am not going to rush into things. I will start practicing in the nets from tomorrow with the team and make sure the thumb is completely fit before I play the match in Mumbai."
He paid tribute to the efforts of Glen McGrath, saying the fast bowler has been a "great servant of Australian and world cricket in general".
Ruling out the inclusion of another spin bowler in the side, he said the fast bowlers did a very good job thus far.
"It keeps the team balance. We can't fit any more spinners in our side. Maybe, if any of our top-line batsmen could bowl medium pace we would've thought of bringing another spinner in. The fast bowlers have done well and the ball has also reverse swung a lot."
Not seen as a great advocate of 'walking', Ponting said the walking fad is being blown out of proportion by a section of the media.
"Gilchrist seems to have made up his mind that he will walk every time he thinks he's out. But it is not team strategy. Some people said Damien Martyn has become a walker, but he walked out only after he edged the ball to the first slip. So it's definitely not a fad and I will discuss it with the team later."
With a record of three wins in four Tests that he captained the side, Ponting said he is not under any pressure to keep the rank even if Gilchrist manages to win the third Test and close the door on India's hopes.
"I will definitely not be under pressure if we win the third match. There are at least five or six guys there who can do a good job of it; Adam is definitely one of them. Shane Warne and Darren Lehmann are also there. Adam had a big responsibility here and he's done an excellent job. But I am under no pressure at all, there is lots of support from the team."