With paceman Glenn McGrath retired, it appears Ricky Ponting has taken on the role of making the bold prediction about Australia regaining the Ashes from England with a 5-0 series sweep.
"It's absolutely possible, there's no reason why not," the Australia test captain told reporters today at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, where he was meeting with Cricket Australia officials to map out preparations for the Ashes series starting November 25 in Brisbane.
"It's all in our hands," Ponting added. "It's how well we play and how well we take charge of different situations.
"We've learned from a lot of the mistakes that we've made."
McGrath said ahead of the 2005 series in England that Australia would win 5-0. But Australia lost 2-1, giving England its first Ashes series victory since before Australia reclaimed the old urn under Allan Border in 1989. McGrath was injured in the hour before the second test started in 2005, after spearheading Australia to a win in the opening match of the series. Australia lost two of the next three tests, and went down to the wire in saving the other one on the last day.
Australia recovered from the 2005 series loss — when almost two decades of domination came to an end and sparked widespread celebrations in England — by winning the 2006-07 Ashes series at home 5-0. But the English reclaimed bragging rights in England in 2009 with another 2-1 win.
Ponting said his side has improved in the interim.
"We know now that we're a more experienced and probably a better team now than we were then," Ponting said. "We put that together plus we're playing in our conditions. We hope to win this series and win it well.
"Batting collapses probably were the reason we lost the series last time around and our inability to bowl them out on the last day in Cardiff. I've got confidence in the squad of players that we've got that they are going to be good enough to win an Ashes series."
Ponting admitted England's form in taking a 2-0 series lead over Pakistan was impressive. Australia split a two-test series with Pakistan only weeks earlier in England.
"(James) Anderson and (Stuart) Broad and those guys have really stepped up," Ponting said of the England bowling attack. "They are coming together well as a team. They certainly have bowled well and they've had great conditions to bowl in as well, the English."
Ponting said England will have to learn to adapt to Australian conditions.
"We'll have a different set of conditions and a different ball when they come out here and I'm sure our guys will equip themselves really well," Ponting said. "We know where we have to bowl to all of their batsmen. They've got no one there who's going to surprise us at all."