Ponting sure new boys can replace old masters

It may have escaped your attention, but the Australians are here. Apart from sending Andrew Symonds home in disgrace, losing a couple of World Twenty20 games against West Indies and Sri Lanka, and holding an unscheduled training camp in Leicester, they have not done much since arriving in England three weeks ago. But all that could be about to change.

Certainly, captain Ricky Ponting seemed bullish enough yesterday when he and the rest of the Ashes tour party met the media in Hove ahead of the first of their two warm-up games which lead into next month's first Test, in Cardiff. Then again, Ponting was pretty up-beat during a similar gig in Nottingham before the Twenty20 tournament – and we know what happened next.

There was a time, of course, when an Australian tour party needed no introductions. But the likes of Warne, McGrath, Gilchrist, Langer and Hayden have been replaced by Hauritz, Hilfenhaus, Haddin, Hughes and North – all fine players, no doubt, but not men with hundreds of Test wickets and thousands of runs behind them.

"It's pretty obvious," said Ponting when asked how his latest squad differs from the one he led to defeat here in 2005 and then guided to a 5-0 whitewash win on home soil 18 months later. "Five or six ultra experienced guys have gone and five or six reasonably inexperienced guys have come in. But I'm very happy and very excited about where our Test cricket is heading and there's a good chance for this group of players to really forge an identify for themselves and for the team through this tour."

The first opportunity comes tomorrow with the start of a four-day, 12-a-side match against Sussex. Then Australia will take on an England Lions side – including Steve Harmison and Ian Bell – in Worcester next week before heading to Cardiff. "We've got a couple of games and we want to get a lot out of them," said Ponting.

"We've got the right to use 12 players in the Sussex game but that doesn't mean we will be using it as practice. We'll be trying to get used to the conditions because we think this wicket will be most like the one in Cardiff, so there is an opportunity to get used to the pace and the bounce, and maybe a bit of spin."

Ah, spin. Ponting reckons England will go down the two-spinner route in Cardiff but seems unconcerned at the prospect of facing Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar or about having only Nathan Hauritz, rather than Shane Warne, to fight back with. "I think our record on the subcontinent will hold us in good stead," he said. "We are proud of the way we have been able to perform in all conditions around the world and we've had a chance over the last couple of weeks to start getting our head around what we believe will probably be a very dry wicket in Cardiff."

If Australia's tour had gone to plan from the outset, Ponting and Co would only just have finished playing Twenty20 cricket. Instead, they slunk away to Leicester after finishing bottom of their group. "We had the best practice facilities we could have hoped for," insisted Ponting, who had originally regarded an unscripted stay in the Midlands with what seemed like horror.

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly finalists Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge
tvLive: Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge face-off in the final
Sport
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture