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Ricky Ponting talks tough

Sydney: Under-fire Australian skipper Ricky Ponting on Tuesday had stern words for his teammates, saying it was imperative for them to “play at a higher level” following the humiliating series defeat against India and that nobody should take his place in the team for granted.

Ponting said there was no reason why Australia could not bounce back and win all the six home Tests this summer despite the setback in India and it was time for his team to make a “positive statement”.

No excuses

“We have to play at a higher level than we did through the India tour, there’s no doubt about that, and there are no excuses and there’s no reason why we can’t,” Ponting told reporters at the airport shortly after arriving from the tour of India where Australia lost the Test series 2-0.

He said he would not allow the defeat to have a bearing on his captaincy.

“I will continue to be a ruthless captain and a ruthless player and I expect all my teammates are in exactly the same boat. And if they’re not now, having lost a Test series in India 2-0, we have to look around for some other guys,” he warned.

Confident

“I’ve got total confidence that we can bounce back and that we can win every Test we play in Australia this year,” he said.

Ponting was adamant Australia deserved to retain the No.1 ranking despite the series loss and predicted his team would play “some of the best Test cricket we’ve seen for a while” in the upcoming home Tests against New Zealand and South Africa.

Ponting said it was important for the team to come out and make a positive statement after admitting India had played the more consistent cricket over the course of the four Test series.

“Just seeing the look on some of the guys’ faces on the plane, there is genuine excitement about moving on from the Indian series.

“It’s important we put that series behind us as quickly as we can and we start focussing on whatever positives there were and start looking ahead to New Zealand and South Africa in Australia,” he said.

Like he had done in the post-match press conference in Nagpur, Ponting stoutly defended his decision on the fourth day of the Test when he opted to use his spinners and part-time bowlers to make up for slow over rate rather than relying on specialist fast bowlers.

He said he felt spinner Cameron White had been a good option because of the bounce he could get and that his pacemen needed a break after having been used for most of the pre-tea period.

“I still feel the decisions I made weren’t negative at all, I’ve had an opportunity to sit back over the last couple of days and think about those decisions I made there and then,” Ponting said.

“Even talking to other players, I’m very comfortable with the decision that I made,” he added. — PTI

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    Corrections and Clarifications

    The second paragraph of a PTI report "Ricky Ponting talks tough" ("Sport", November 12, 2008) was "Ponting said there was no reason why Australia could not bounce back and win all the six home Tests this summer despite the setback in India .." It should have been five home tests (two against New Zealand and three against South Africa.)

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