|Player:||RT Ponting, A Flintoff, SJ Harmison, SK Warne|
DateLine: 28th November 2006
Ricky Ponting expects Australia's winning form to carry through to this week's second Ashes Test as England search to resolve their selection issues ahead of Adelaide.
England leave chastened by a massive 277-run loss to Ponting's team, succumbing to defeat early on the final day at Brisbane Monday to put immediate pressure on Andrew Flintoff's team to hold on to the Ashes.
With just four days to the next Test, Ponting believes the scheduling has worked in Australia's favour and will look to take a firm grip on the five-Test series with victory in Adelaide from Friday.
"It will be terrific for us, having played as well as we have," Ponting enthused after leading Australia to his 23rd win as skipper in 31 Tests. "There's not much time for England to go away and do too much to get their game in order, that's the way I'm looking at it. We'll be right to hit the track again on Friday and there's a really good feeling around the group having played as well as we have over the last five days so we can continue that and carry it into Adelaide."
While Ponting has the luxury of which players to leave out of a winning side, if necessary, England will have to think long and hard what to do with misfiring pace spearhead Steve Harmison. The Durham giant stuttered from the first ball of the Test when he spectacularly sprayed a wide to second slip. Harmison claimed just one wicket - Shane Warne for 17 in the first innings - in his match analysis of 1-177 off 42.1 overs. "I think through the game Harmison got better, his spells late on the first day and second day were a lot better and he's completely a rhythm bowler and if he's a little bit out, then the radar is a little bit out," Ponting said. "I'm sure they will be paying a lot of attention to what he's doing in the lead-up to Adelaide and they'll need him at his best going forward in this series."
Ponting was also asked at his post-match press conference to justify not enforcing the follow-on after Australia held a massive 445-run innings lead. It was the largest lead an Australian Test side has enjoyed without enforcing the follow-on, surpassing the 380-run margin Bill Woodfull's team had enjoyed when winning against England at The Oval in 1934.
"I felt the bowlers would have been better to have a break at that stage of the game (after bowling a total of 61.1 overs)," Ponting said. "The wicket was only going to get harder to bat on, the weather looked good going right through the game, so those cracks that were pretty predominant on the second day were only going to get worse. I thought our bowlers could exploit those well later in the game. Also getting England back out in the field again and maybe getting some of their bowlers, who looked tired in the first innings, to bowl again and try and wear them down. I make decisions on behalf of the team and what I think is best to win a game of cricket. That's the way we decided to go and we won the game very comfortably so I'm more than happy with the decision I made."
Ponting also ridiculed suggestions that England were "under-cooked" for the Gabba Test. "Well, they couldn't have been any more than us. We had one first-class game after the Champions' Trophy in India, we've only been back in the country for a week and a half before the first Test, so if anyone was going to be under-cooked it would have been us. I don't think they can use that as an excuse. From the start of this game we got the momentum and they found it hard to get it back in their favour."