Australia gunning for Butt
Ricky Ponting is hoping to make life as difficult as possible for new Pakistan captain Salman Butt and his team at Headingley.
By Joe Drabble
Last Updated: 20/07/10 4:20pm
Australia captain Ricky Ponting is hoping to make life as difficult as possible for opposite number Salman Butt when the MCC Spirit of Cricket Test series resumes at Headingley.
The second Test gets underway in Leeds on Wednesday with Ponting's men leading the two-match series 1-0 after a 150-run victory at Lord's.
All-rounder Shahid Afridi, who captained Pakistan in the series-opener, has since retired from Test cricket, with vice-captain Butt taking the reigns for the remainder of the tour of England.
Butt was the scourge of the Australia bowlers at HQ, where he posted half-centuries in each innings and fell just eight runs short of achieving the fourth Test century of his career.
The 25-year-old will, however, be saddled with greater responsibility in Leeds and while Ponting denied he would be subject to some old-fashioned Australian verbal jousting, he warned the opener to expect a far tougher time from his bowlers.
"We know they've got a new leader for this game, and he's someone who played well in the last game," Ponting said.
"We have to make sure we make life as tough as possible for him.
"We can only do that with the ball and how we bowl. I think our guys learned a fair bit about him bowling to him last week. We had done all our preparation, but I just don't think we executed the way we needed to for longer enough periods of time.
"It showed at times last week when we bowled reasonably tight overs to him that a big shot was never too far away. We just have to make sure we build pressure for longer periods of time.
"How he'll deal with being captain I'm not sure. There's obviously more responsibility when you're captain and a top-order batsman, and as an opener it's going to be a hard job for him.
"But he's been chosen as captain for a reason and the way he played last week was as good as I've seen him play."
Asked if Butt should expect more chat from the Australians in the field, Ponting replied: "No, not at all. He's stepping up into a leadership role with their team, but their won't be any more pressure put on him like that.
"If any more pressure needs to be put on him this week it's going to be what we do with the ball."
Ponting will be looking to get back amongst the runs himself after he endured another forgettable Lord's Test match when he managed scores of 26 and zero.
However the Tasmanian has a much better record at Headingley, the venue which saw him post his maiden Test century 13 years ago.
Ponting averages 105.25 at the home of the White Rose county in three previous visits - with Australia's only success at last year's Ashes arriving at the ground.
Asked to put his finger on why he has such a good record at Headingley, he said: "I don't know, I can't answer that.
"I made my first ever Test match hundred here. When you have success at certain grounds you do have a good feeling about them when you come back. "The pace and bounce is generally pretty good here."
With cloudy conditions expected for the opening few days of the Test, Ponting is sure that the swing bowlers will play a key role, as his side looks to wrap up the two-match series and a ninth consecutive Test win.
"Headingley is renowned for swinging around when it's a bit overcast so there's no doubt our batters are going to have to work really hard this week and apply themselves," he added.
"But the same thing can be said about the bowling. I think we'll be better off for having played a Test match and having played so well last week.
"A strength of this team is they want to keep improving. We have won eight games in a row now, but they are not happy with that.
"They want to win nine in a row this week and keep putting out best foot forward."