Ricky Ponting flew home from England after the Ashes this summer a deeply disappointed man, but the Australia captain believes that time away from the game helped him to lead his side to victory in the Champions Trophy.
Monday's six-wicket victory over New Zealand completed a fine tournament for the 34-year-old, who was named player of the series having scored 288 runs in five matches – only Shane Watson, who scored tons in the semi-final against England and the final, came within 80 of the Tasmanian. Crucial to that success, he believes, was the time he spent at home while his team-mates won the first three games in the post-Ashes NatWest Series. Ponting returned to England for the four subsequent matches, leading Australia to a 6-1 victory.
"The time I had at home just gave me the opportunity to get away and not think about the game," Ponting said. "We all know how much of a mental game cricket is and when you can't think as clearly as you want, and you can't sometimes get out of training what you want because you are thinking of other things, it makes performing that little bit harder.
"To just freshen up in that manner over the years, I have found it has made batting and leading the side a little bit easier. The other day, at the start of the semi-final against England, I was jumping out of my skin."