Ponting admits his men have work to do with bat and ball

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The Independent Online

Ricky Ponting was Mr Quite Cross after Australia had been denied victory in Cardiff. Yesterday, with his team well beaten, he turned into Mr Gracious Loser – and even managed to get a laugh out of the Lord's crowd.

Ponting might have made at least some mention of the several umpiring decisions which went against his team before Australia's first Ashes defeat at the home of cricket in 75 years was confirmed. Instead, he concentrated on congratulating England and then talking about the visitors' shortcomings. "We've been outplayed for the majority of this game, there's no doubt about that," said Ponting, whose assessment of the second Test brought applause from the crowd.

"I got my first clap as I left the stage after the post-game interview," added Ponting. "But it took me to crack a little joke to get a laugh out of them."

Australia's captain has become the man England supporters love to hate, and even at Lord's he took plenty of verbal flak, especially after spilling a simple slip chance on Saturday. "I'm not sure what all the animosity was there," Ponting said. "They seemed to take great pleasure out of me dropping that catch. I won't lose any sleep, though."

Ponting has more pressing issues to address. "Little skill areas have cost us big time throughout this game," he said. "And I'm not just talking about the bowling. We didn't bat very well, either, in our first innings. We have just been a bit off the mark through the game. The next couple of days, and then the tour game in Northampton, become really important. We've got some fine-tuning to do on our skills."

As for retaining the Ashes, Ponting knows what is needed. "It's about grabbing the momentum when you can and running with it for as long as you can," he said. "That will probably decide the series – it decided this game."