Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ponting aims first barb

It is an running joke that came painfully home to roost four years ago but with another Ashes series down under looming the Aussies are once again aiming for a 5-0 whitewash.

Admittedly fed the line by a journalist, captain Ricky Ponting responded to the suggestion that his side could repeat 2006's 5-0 triumph by claiming "it's absolutely possible".

We shouldn't be surprised at this as the Australians are renowned for their bullish confidence and they will use that in the media to try and out-psych the opposition before a ball has even been bowled.

Glenn McGrath predicted 5-0 wins ahead of virtually every series, although he had to wait until his last one for it to come true. That tour was a black mark in the English history books and one they hope not to repeat.

But while McGrath could make those predictions knowing he could help inflict some of the damage, Ponting will not be able to call upon the services of the quick bowler this time round. Neither will he be able to field the likes of Shane Warne, Matthew Hayden or Justin Langer, who have all retired since the last Australian Ashes series.

Australia's confidence exists for a reason and although they will rightly start as favourites in the Ashes betting - they have only lost one Test since they relinquished the urn last summer - they must surely admit in private that England carrying a significant threat. Andy Flower's men have shown their win last year was not just a flash in the pan with a hard-earned draw in South Africa and a wins over Bangladesh and Pakistan this summer.

Batting collapses and a failure to adapt to the conditions were the principal reasons for Aussies' failure last year, if England do the same down under, then Ponting's confidence will not be misplaced. The cricket betting certainly suggests the home side will be hard to beat.

Still, those words could well come back to haunt him if things don't go as planned.

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