Australia still 'long way' short of best, says Ponting

Australia 535 New Zealand 270 & 203
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The Independent Online

Australia's captain, Ricky Ponting, says his team will need to improve if they are to match South Africa in the upcoming three-Test series despite completing a convincing victory over New Zealand here yesterday.

Brett Lee took five wickets as the hosts dismantled the Black Caps' batting line-up to record an innings and 62-run win in the second Test which sealed a 2-0 series whitewash.

Ponting insisted the team could not afford to get carried away, saying: "Realistically, that New Zealand team is not the strongest we've ever come up against and they are probably the first to admit that. We are not kidding ourselves; we've got a long way to go if we want to stay the No 1 team in the world. We have to play at our optimum. When I spoke to the guys coming into this game I felt there was a lot of room for improvement and I think we've all seen a great deal of improvement from most players in this game."

Australia have already turned their focus to the first Test against South Africa at the WACA, which starts on 17 December. Ponting revealed Shane Watson could get a recall, leaving Nathan Hauritz with another one-off Test performance and Jason Krejza an extended wait on the sidelines.

"Everyone we've spoken to in domestic cricket this year has said it [the WACA pitch] has been very fast and very bouncy, the relaid wickets I mean," Ponting added. "I don't think we'd bring another specialist fast bowler in, I think we'd look at an all-rounder like Watson."