Ponting not planning to quit
Australia captain Ricky Ponting is refusing to entertain the idea of retirement as he gets ready for the Ashes in England.
Last Updated: 30/06/09 4:56pm
Australia captain Ricky Ponting is refusing to entertain the idea of retirement, despite seeing his former Ashes foe Michael Vaughan call it a day.
Both men are 34 years of age but, while Vaughan confirmed his decision to bow out of the game on Tuesday, Ponting remains very much focused on the job at hand.
He has been involved in some feisty exchanges in the past with England including his verbal outburst towards then coach Duncan Fletcher at Trent Bridge four years ago after being run out by substitute fielder Gary Pratt.
And the tourists' skipper insists he has lost none of his competitive edge, as he prepares his troops ahead of the first Test in Cardiff on July 8.
"I've not mellowed as a competitor or a cricketer. I hope I'm as competitive as I've ever been on the field," Ponting said. "I am loving the game as much as ever and I am involved in a really youthful group of blokes who are a joy to be around.
"To me, this is as exciting as it gets, to be captain of Australia in England in an Ashes series with a new fresh group of players.
"I've never thought about retiring. While the enjoyment is there, while I can add to what the team is trying to do, and I can improve as an individual, then that will determine how long I play.
"But I've never considered what might be an end date because I am enjoying the game as much as ever and want to keep contributing and be the best player I can be for the team."
This week's fixture against the England Lions provide the final test for the tourists ahead of the summer series and, with fringe international players like Ian Bell and Steve Harmison among the opposition, Ponting knows it will be an important workout for his team.
"It is a big step for us from last week, there is no doubt about that. Although the Sussex game was a really good hit-out for us, we need to lift our cricket to another level," he added.
"This week we will be up against much better and much stronger opposition than last week and for us, with it being the last game before the Test, the intensity needs to lift up a little bit.
"Hopefully we can get the result we are after and the batters and bowlers can get some good quality time out in the middle and make sure we get what we can from this game and are ready to go at Cardiff.
"It is good to have this calibre of opposition as our last game. You look at their bowling attack and their quicks have all played international cricket.
"It will be really good preparation for us but, on the flip side of that, it gives those guys a really good chance to impress the England selectors as well so all in all it should be a really good game of cricket."