Ponting excited by vibrancy of Australian youth

Tourists' captain says he is confident his hungry young side can take home the urn

Losing half a team – virtually half a World XI, really – would have finished a few captains. In Ricky Ponting's case, though, waving farewell to five household names and ushering in a handful of raw new recruits has had exactly the opposite effect. He could go on and on, it seems, especially if the men under his command develop into another band of world-beaters.

It would be silly to suggest that Ponting was glad to be rid of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist, Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden. Indeed, if one or two of them pitch up to Sophia Gardens early enough this morning they could find themselves hauled out of retirement. But there is no doubt that leading an emerging side has given Australia's 34-year-old captain a real lift towards the end of his career.

Surround yourself with the young and the keen: that is sound advice for anyone when the clock starts ticking quicker than ever. Ponting, of course, had no choice in the matter but, despite many a prediction of doom and gloom, he still finds himself captain of the top-ranked team in Test cricket. And the excitement of trying to keep it that way, by retaining the Ashes, shines from his eyes.

"I'm as excited for this series as I've been for any series I've ever played in, and that says a lot about where I'm at and where this current team is at," said the feisty little Tasmanian. "I know we are in really good shape as a group and looking forward to the challenge ahead of us."

Six months ago, that challenge looked too tall for a team of mortals, rather than one of super-heroes. Australia had lost in India and then, soon after, lost at home to South Africa. They were on the slide. Oh yeah? A 2-1 win in South Africa put that theory on hold and showed that players like Phil Hughes, Mitchell Johnson and Peter Siddle were perfectly capable of doing justice to the Baggy Green.

"There's no doubt there is a lot of hunger around the group to build on things which we felt we started in South Africa where our standards of play were very high," said Ponting on the eve of his fourth Ashes series in England. "Winning in South Africa, with young players, was one of the most satisfying moments of my career.

"Coming into this Test the desire to do well for yourself and for your mates is as good as I've ever seen it around the group and that's an exciting thing for me. Hopefully through the next couple of months you are going to see some things that will surprise you about our team. I know what all these guys are capable of and I want to see some things from them that everyone is going to be amazed about."

Ponting has ticked almost every box in Test cricket. But he was also the Australian captain who lost the Ashes in England in 2005 so putting that record straight must be a motivating factor – even if he plays it down.

"It would be great to win – it would be great for everyone to have our hands on the urn. If we are good enough, we are good enough and I've got a really good feeling we are going to be good enough."

First Test: Probable teams


AJ Strauss (capt)

AN Cook

RS Bopara

KP Pietersen

PD Collingwood

MJ Prior (wkt)

A Flintoff

SC J Broad

GP Swann

JM Anderson

MS Panesar


PJ Hughes

SM Katich

RT Ponting (capt)

ME K Hussey

MJ Clarke

MJ North

BJ Haddin (wkt)

MG Johnson

PM Siddle

SR Clark

BW Hilfenhaus

Umpires: Aleem Dar & Billy Doctrove

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan