Ricky Ponting has warned that his Australia team are "on the brink of something special" and taken a swipe at England's reliance on foreign-born talent as the build-up to this winter's Ashes gets under way.
"I am looking forward to the next eight months of international cricket probably more than I have any period of my career," Ponting, who became only the second Australian skipper to lose the Ashes twice after last year's 2-1 defeat, said yesterday.
"I have been lucky to play in a lot of great teams ... but I feel the current team of players now is on the brink of doing something special as well."
Australia head to the subcontinent to play two Tests and a one-day series against top-ranked Test side India in October before kicking off their home season with limited- overs matches against Sri Lanka.
They play the first of the five Ashes tests on 25 November at the Gabba in Brisbane. Despite beating Australia to win the Twenty20 World Cup and in their June/July one-day series, England would offer little new to ponder, Ponting said.
"I guess the beauty about their side is that we have seen all their players a fair bit. There will be no surprises, as far as we are concerned, on what they can do."
Ponting also had a dig at England's reliance on overseas-born players when asked about Irish cricketer Eoin Morgan.
"I just have a feeling [England] really like Morgan, what he brings to their set-up – plus he's not English," Ponting said of the Dublin-born batsman.
"I have got a lot of thoughts on why they pick those guys [non-England born players]; it is quite surprising when you look at their side and work out how many there are.
"But it doesn't matter where they are born, we have got to make sure whatever team they put out we are well equipped to break them down."Reuse content