Ponting: the Ashes just keep getting bigger

The Ashes are about much more than a traditional spat between a mother country and one of her former dominions – with all that entails. They can rescue Test cricket.

Events of the next six weeks are expected to be viewed around Planet Cricket and if all goes according to plan they will give another fillip to a game that is constantly fighting decline. The Ashes of 2005 did Test cricket its biggest favour since its inception and while a reprise would be ridiculous to expect, there is no doubting the responsibilities of both England and Australia.

"I actually feel it has got bigger and bigger, the last few series in particular," said Australia's captain, Ricky Ponting. "Although we didn't like losing in 2005, I think it has led to a regeneration of Test cricket all round the world. It was an amazing series of cricket for anyone to be part of. From that moment on, every series we have played has just grown and grown and grown to the point where God knows how long we have been talking about this series in Australia. You have just got to look around this room here and see the excitement in all your eyes as well, and sold-out crowds is a great sign for Test cricket."

The first three days of each of the first three matches have sold out. Cricket Australia are breathing a huge sigh of relief that England remain such a draw since they need the money.

Andrew Strauss, the England captain, said: "Everyone is looking for Test cricket to show its potential and why we love it so much. If there is interest there that can only be good for us as players going out there to represent our country."

Before the series started, Strauss and Ponting were pictured holding the Ashes urn, or at least a replica – the real thing was secured, as always, in its glass case at Lord's, from where it will never be moved.

Four years ago the urn, under heavy security, did a tour of Australia, provoking calls that it should stay in the country of the holders. They were naturally ignored. Ponting, asked if the holders should look after the Ashes, said: "Why not? That would be good. I know there was a lot made of it last time, about how far it was but I'm sure with the technology available they can do something to make sure it's safe on a journey across the world."

The question is purely academic, though when pressed Strauss sided with MCC on the fragility issue. "I think it's at the home of cricket for a reason," he said. The captains went about their business briskly, though Ponting refuted any suggestion of frostiness between them.

"Not frosty, not at all," he said, though he did not claim mutual eternal friendship. "I was at Sydney airport flying up here and we bumped into each other there. We have known each other a long time, played a lot against each other and I guess been lucky enough to captain a lot of games. It was businesslike as you'd expect, two captains showing respect for each other and their teams doing what we have to do."

Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
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

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower