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Ponting predicts whitewash

MELBOURNE, August 16- Australian skipper Ricky Ponting said Monday it was "absolutely possible" that his team could regain the Ashes with a 5-0 sweep against England later this year.
Ponting, who lost the Ashes for a second time as captain in the 2-1 series defeat in England last year, said the Australians had learnt from their mistakes and were a better side than the last Ashes contest.

Australia have slipped to fourth, narrowly ahead of England, in the Test rankings after their 1-1 drawn Test series against sixth-ranked Pakistan in England last month.

But Ponting, who met Cricket Australia officials in Melbourne on Monday to map out preparations for the November-January Ashes series, is undaunted.

"It’s absolutely possible. There’s no reason why not," Ponting told reporters at the Melbourne Cricket Ground when asked about a 5-0 Ashes sweep.

"It’s all in our hands. It’s how well we play and how well we take charge of different situations.

"We’ve learnt from a lot of the mistakes that we’ve made.

"There’s no doubt we made some mistakes in the last Ashes series in England that probably at the end of the day cost us the series.

"We know now that we’re a more experienced and probably a better team now than we were then.

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"We put that together plus we’re playing in our conditions, we hope to win this series and win it well.

"I’ve got confidence in the squad of players that we’ve got that they are going to be good enough to win an Ashes series."

Ponting said England’s form in winning the opening two of four Tests this month against Pakistan was impressive but added the tourists would offer few surprises this summer.

"(James) Anderson and (Stuart) Broad and those guys have really stepped up," Ponting said.

"They are coming together well as a team. We have to make sure at the end of the Indian tour (in October) that we have got everything in place to make sure that we’re ultra-competitive against them.

"They (England) certainly have bowled well and they’ve had great conditions to bowl in as well, the English.

"We’ll have a different set of conditions and a different ball when they come out here and I’m sure our guys will equip themselves really well.

"We know where we have to bowl to all of their batsmen. They’ve got no one there who’s going to surprise us at all."

The opening Ashes Test begins at Brisbane’s Gabba ground on November 25.

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