Ponting senses new era in one-dayers
Australian captain Ricky Ponting admires the rapid improvement his one-day side has made, but won’t be happy until they win Monday’s Champions Trophy final in Centurion.
Australia are one step away from becoming the first nation to successfully defend this title by walloping England by nine wickets in Friday’s semi-final at SuperSport Park.
After limiting England to 257, Ponting and Shane Watson posted the biggest partnership by an Australian pair in one-day internationals – an unbroken stand of 252 – to complete an emphatic victory.
Ponting was encouraged by the way they had improved in every match, given the recent form of younger players like wicketkeeper Tim Paine, fast bowler Peter Siddle and batsman Callum Ferguson.
Ponting considered this tournament and the recent 6-1 one-day series win over England after the Ashes a new limited-overs era.
“We’ve been talking about playing at a level that is going to get us into big games,” he said.
“At the start of the England series we were focusing on being prepared for the Champions Trophy and being in a position like (Friday’s) where we can play our best cricket when it matters.
“If you look at our team I guess it probably is (a new era).
“To have Michael Clarke and Nathan Bracken (both injured) not take any part in the Champions Trophy at all and to have this group of relatively young guys make it through to a final is a good achievement in itself.
“But we won’t be happy until we peak in the final.”
Australia’s opponent in the decider will be determined by Saturday’s semi-final between Pakistan and New Zealand (which finishes Sunday morning AEST).
Ponting admitted Australian cricket prided itself in performing at its best in big moments and felt he was in control of his batting of late.
Since he returned from a break after the Ashes loss, Ponting has peeled off two hundreds and three half-centuries in eight matches.
His unbeaten 111 against England was the 28th ton of his one-day career and also took him past 12,000 career runs.
“I was particularly keen to get out there and play well,” he said.
“When the Australian team took the field I think we had a different sort of energy and aura about us than we probably have had for a while.
“That’s my job, as an experienced player and leader, to make sure the guys get into that frame of mind as well.
“I pride myself on big games and I think all us experienced players do.
“It’s up to players like myself to set the example and lead from the front.”
England’s exit means they must wait for another chance to win their maiden world one-day event and captain Andrew Strauss admitted his side had catching up to do despite their progress in South Africa.
Strauss said it was hard to look past Australia when asked to predict a tournament winner.
“They’re on a great run and defending champions so they’ll be hard to beat,” he said.© AAP 2013