Saturday, October 24, 2009

"We’ve enough flexibility to surprise India"

Ricky, welcome to India. How difficult it is to retain the world No. 1 rankings sans greats like Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer?

Ricky Ponting: It will be very tough for us to retain the Number One status in ICC rankings once you lose all-time greats like them. It will be very difficult for any side to sustain the level of excellence like those guys had helped achieve.

Do you think you have done reasonably well after losing such champion match-winners until now?

RP: Yeah! The thing that really impresses me is that even with the absence of those guys, we have been playing good competitive cricket. Any series that we have gone into, we have been ultra competitive and had our moments where we should have won many Test series. The way we have been playing in the last two or three years, there are enough positive signs.

Do you think the side has shaped up well after the Ashes loss?

RP: I think the Ashes was a real learning experience for our young players, many of whom were new to Test cricket. But the amazing thing is that all those players have learnt from their mistakes in the Test defeats and have done really well in the one-dayers. I am very much confident that they will continue in the same vein to play good competitive cricket to win.

You are currently ranked number four in Tests. Do you think that is a true reflection of your young side?

RP: Not really, I think we are a much better side than that. We are number one in ODIs now, which I think is the true reflection of our team.

Do you think other top teams can cope with the tricky business of rebuilding a team like the way Australia has done?

RP: If we compare the rebuilding of other top teams with us, in a couple of years’ time, South Africa will be going through the similar process of rebuilding and I think India too will have to go through that phase when the likes of Sachin, Dravid, Laxman, Zaheer and Harbhajan will end their Test careers. By the time they are going through it, we would have invested 30-40 Tests in our younger players, making it a very settled team by then. So it will be interesting to see how those teams rebuild through it. It can be bit of a cycle with the way things work with the timing of the players retiring and new players coming in. But I think we are on the right track as a team.

JN: Which are the teams you think can push Australia the hardest?

RP: I think South Africa, even though they have this habit of missing out on big tournaments but overall if we look at them they are a well balanced side. India too, we have known them for a long time and they are particularly good in one-day cricket.

Ricky, would you put Michael Hussey and Michael Bevan along the same lines in the middle order?

RP: Yeah, both have batted at the similar sort of positions in the batting line up, and both have been recognized as guys who you expect to finish games for your team by staying right till the end. So yes, they are very similar.

What kind of playing eleven have you decided for the ODIs v India? Will you be playing with three pacers, two all-rounders and a spinner like in the recent ICC Champions Trophy?

RP: I think three pacers, one spinner and two all rounders in Watson and Hopes was a ploy that gave us a lot of balance in the ICC Champions Trophy. However, we are still not decided about the batting order. We still have to find a replacement in the eleven for injured Callum Ferguson. It could be Shaun Marsh or Adam Voges. We have enough flexibility in our ranks to surprise the Indians on the day of the match.

Is a seven-match series too long for an ODI series?

RP: Look, the previous series against one team was the Ashes series which went on for close to about four months which is way too long a time to play one side in a calendar year. That tour consisted of 5 Tests, seven ODIs, two T20 Internationals as well. I think five ODIs in a series is good enough, seven games are way too long.

A word on the security arrangements this time around?

RP: I think the security levels this time around are much stricter for obvious reasons but we are here to play good competitive cricket and the authorities have made good arrangements for us so far.

The horse racing season is in full bloom in Australia and the Melbourne Cup is not far away. Have you been betting there or is it just for fun?

RP: Horse racing is always fun to be a part of. It is more of fun then anything else for me.

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