Ponting warns Three Lions
Ricky Ponting has warned England that the Australians will provide far stiffer opposition than the West Indies have.
Last Updated: 20/05/09 8:00am
Ricky Ponting has warned England that the Australians will provide far stiffer opposition than the West Indies when they arrive for the Ashes this summer.
The Australia captain was speaking after the tourists named their 16-man squad for the eagerly awaited series.
England go into battle on the back of a 2-0 series whitewash of the West Indies, but Ponting says his side will prove a sterner test, particularly having learned lessons from the shock 2-1 series loss in 2005.
Ponting said: "They've obviously done everything very well in these last two Test matches against the West Indies but I can guarantee that they'll be facing a stiffer opposition than the West Indies when we arrive.
"England will be a very stiff and tough opposition, we know that, they always are when we play against them.
"The last series out here in Australia was a 5-0 result to us but it could've been a whole lot different had we not done some exceptional things.
"With 2005 we got off to a great start in that series and then things just slipped away from us from there. A lot of us have been there, learnt from our mistakes from last time and we're keen to obviously rectify that.
"There's one thing on my cricketing resume that hasn't been achieved yet and that's being captain of a winning Ashes series in England. That's something very dear to my heart."
Only six of the Australian squad - Ponting, Michael Clarke, Brett Lee, Simon Katich, Brad Haddin and Stuart Clark - have toured England previously, with Haddin and Clark not playing in 2005.
Rookies Phillip Hughes, Marcus North, Peter Siddle and Andrew McDonald have been selected but Ponting believes the squad is "a very good blend of youth and experience" and he is confident the youngsters can stand up.
"I don't really think that's a great hurdle for us at all," Ponting added.
"Going to South Africa we went there with a less experienced team because we've got an extra three Test matches into some of these guys now.
"You don't face many tougher tasks than playing South Africa over there and our guys came through particularly well so that really excites me about what we've got coming up on this Ashes tour.
"Inexperience, it can be something you want to steer away from but as I said we've got a great balance of youth and experience so hopefully when the big moments come around it will be all of us who stick up our hands and get the job done over there."
Ponting also believes there is enough flexibility in the squad to cope with the demands they will face.
"If you look down our actual top-six batters we've got some guys there as well that can offer some really useful part-time spin options," he said.
"Whenever you're picking a team you're looking for some flexibility, you're looking at guys being able to play different roles at different times for you through the course of a game.
"There's no doubt through the last South African series it was a lot of those guys, all-rounder types, that really did a good job for us.
"With Shane (Watson) in the squad as well, someone that can bowl 140-plus kilometres an hour and bat anywhere in the top six, it gives us great flexibility in our squad."