DateLine: 29th December 2006
Ricky Ponting says Australia are looking to create something special and whitewash demoralized England in an Ashes series clean sweep next week after yet another pulverizing victory in Melbourne Thursday.
The crack Australians will go to Sydney aiming for the first 5-0 Ashes series win in 85 years after crushing England by an innings and 99 runs in the fourth Test inside three days at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Ponting senses Andrew Flintoff's team are at rock-bottom after their fourth heavy defeat of the series. Australia have outplayed England to win by 277 runs in Brisbane, six wickets in Adelaide, 206 runs in Perth and by an innings in Melbourne.
"Losing a game here in three days after winning the toss, I think they would be pretty demoralized at the moment," Ponting said. "I guess when you're in a situation like that you just have to play for personal and team pride, that's about all you can do."
Australia has an unwanted reputation of losing "dead" rubbers. South Africa won the third Durban Test in March 2002 after losing the first two of the series; England won in Sydney on the last Ashes tour here in January 2003 after losing the first four Tests; the West Indies scored a world record 418 for seven in the last innings to beat Australia in the fourth Antigua Test in May 2003 and India won the dead rubber in Mumbai in November 2004.
"There's a great feeling in the team and we're playing some great cricket, so I don't think we have to focus on any outcomes. We just have to focus on the process," Ponting said of next week's Sydney Test. "You can't ever take for granted winning a Test match, it's not an easy thing to do. It's hard work, but we have an opportunity now to create something very special for this team in Sydney and we'll be giving it the best shake we can to try and win that game."
Warwick Armstrong's team vanquished England 5-0 in the last Ashes clean sweep in Australia in 1921. Ponting, who has taken special delight in having the boot on the other foot after his anguish of becoming the Australian captain to lose the Ashes last year, said England would be crestfallen with their Melbourne performance.
"We've done everything in our power to make that be the way. England wouldn't be happy with their performance here, no doubt about that," he said. "When we are playing as well as we are and we're on a bit of a run then I'm sure all those little doubts turn into big doubts. We've seen that through this game. The way Matthew Hayden and Andrew Symonds were able to play right through most of yesterday (in a 279-run partnership) was obviously the defining moment in the game."