Ponting - Bring on England
Ricky Ponting has his sights fixed firmly on reclaiming the Ashes after Australia whitewashed Pakistan.
Last Updated: 18/01/10 9:38am
Ricky Ponting has his sights fixed firmly on reclaiming the Ashes after Australia closed out a series whitewash of Pakistan in Hobart.
Australia completed a 231-run victory on the final day at the Bellerive Oval, their fifth win in six Tests since surrendering the Ashes in England last August.
And although they will play four more Tests in the 10 months before they begin their bid to defeat England in Brisbane in late November - two against New Zealand in New Zealand in March and two against Pakistan in England in July - Ponting believes his team has now put the disaster of last year's Ashes loss behind them.
"It's been a great series and a great summer for us," said Ponting.
"There was a fair bit of conjecture coming into the summer after the end of the Ashes about where we were going with our Test cricket and I spelled things out pretty clearly to the team about where I thought we were going and I think we have improved a lot through the summer."
With Shane Watson being named player-of-the-series against Pakistan and Nathan Hauritz emerging as a genuine frontline spinner - after taking 18 wickets at 23.05 for the series giving him 29 wickets in six Tests for the summer, the equal highest along with Mitchell Johnson of any Australian bowler - Ponting believes he now has a settled team at his disposal ready to reclaim the urn.
When asked if there were any areas he felt his side still needed to improve in, ahead of the Ashes, Ponting said: "I don't think there are to tell the truth, no
"I am really comfortable with the way a lot of the guys have come on through the summer.
"Watson in the opening role was something we probably weren't entirely sure about coming into the summer but I think he has put his own stamp on that particularly well, as he has with his bowling as well.
"And Nathan Hauritz has certainly stepped up to take 18 wickets in this series alone."
Ponting's Pakistan counterpart Mohammad Yousuf declared Australia as "the best team in the world" at the conclusion of the series.
"Yes, they (Australia) are the best team because they have a good side, good players - all good players - and they have good batsmen and bowlers and a wicketkeeper (Brad Haddin) averaging in the early 40s (with the bat) so they are a good side," he said.
Yousuf said given the little Test cricket Pakistan have played in recent times he could not be too critical of his team's performances over the series, particularly after they came so close to winning in Sydney.
"Obviously we lost the series and that is disappointing for the whole team but we played with a young and inexperienced side so I am happy," he added.
But the one area where Yousuf was scathing of his team's performance over the three Tests was in the field where they dropped a staggering 16 catches.
"That is where I think we lost the series, otherwise it may have been a different result," he said.
As for his own future as captain, Yousuf said he hoped to be in charge for the two Test series against Australia in England in July but could not guarantee he would still be in the job by then.
"That is a difficult question," he admitted. "But I enjoy my job and I am trying to do it sincerely and to keep trying to lift the team and myself up."