Ponting - Legends are made
Ricky Ponting is expecting one of his players to step up and write their name into Ashes folklore in the absence of Brett Lee.
By Joe Drabble
Last Updated: 07/07/09 11:16am
Australia captain Ricky Ponting is expecting one of his players to step up and write their name into Ashes folklore in the absence of injured paceman Brett Lee.
The Baggy Greens have been rocked on the eve of the Ashes opener with news that their most experienced bowler has been ruled out of the Cardiff Test after damaging an abdominal muscle in his left side.
The injury could also keep Lee out of the second Test at Lord's, as the 32-year-old's injury nightmare continues after ankle surgery has kept him out of action since the 2008 Boxing Day defeat to South Africa.
However, as they had to on the return tour of South Africa earlier this year, the Australians' other pacemen must provide the firepower if they are to retain the famous urn.
"Reputations and legends are generally made out of these bigger series and there is no bigger series than an Ashes series to do that," said Ponting.
"One good initiative we have had since we have been here is during every game day or training day, one or two guys have been telling us what an Ashes series means to them, and what it means to be a part of it.
"Hearing them say some of the things they have said makes me think they really want to forge their own identities and make an impact in this series."
Lee, who has taken 310 Test wickets for his country, was the pick of the Australian bowlers in their recent tour match against the Lions in Worcester, finishing with match figures of 7-114.
And Ponting admits the setback his left him with a selection dilemma ahead of Wednesday's showdown.
"The work he did last week was pretty impressive as everybody saw," said Ponting, referring to Lee's reverse swing masterclass against England's A side.
"So the thinking caps will have to go on and we will have to work out what the best XI will be in these conditions down here. We have got more than capable guys to step into that void."
New-ball pair Mitchell Johnson and Peter Siddle are certainties to lead the attack after eye-catching performances in the 2-1 win over the Proteas earlier this year and they will be joined by Stuart Clark, another bowler back after a lengthy injury absence.
The wet weather in south Wales could yet see that trio joined by swing bowler Ben Hilfenhaus, rather than off-spinner Nathan Hauritz, who has struggled on the tour to date.
"If it rains more then you would have to think about that, with the wicket being under cover for a couple of days," Ponting confirmed.
Whichever XI the tourists field at the start of their bid to defeat the old enemy, Ponting feels his squad are better prepared than four years ago when England famously halted a 16-year period of Australian dominance.
Most of the pre-series talk has revolved around that incredible 2005 summer rather than the revenge whitewashing in 2006-07, something which has not been lost on Ponting.
"All the talk since we have been here has been about 2005 - which is about 50 Test matches ago," Ponting said.
"It has been a long time between then and now. You can understand from their point of view they will want to replicate everything that happened and they did in 2005.
"But I think we are a better team as a result of that series, and better prepared than we were then.
"If you look at our overall squad, we have got really good balance, not just in one certain area but right the way through.
"Our fast-bowling attack - all five of the guys feel as though they should be in the team - is a real positive for us.
"We have flexibility as well in that all of the bowlers are very different in what they do and what skills they have.
"We have got a good blend of experience and youth in our batting as well. I think those things puts us slightly ahead of whatever England have got."