BRISBANE, November 24, – Australia captain Ricky Ponting said Wednesday he wants to have a big say in the outcome of the Ashes series starting with a big score in the first Test against England.
Ponting said he intended to lead from the front in Thursday’s opener as he did when he scored 196 in the first innings of the corresponding Test in the 2006-07 series which acted as a catalyst to Australia’s 5-0 series whitewash.
Ponting posted 576 runs for the last Ashes series down under at an average of 82.29 with two hundreds and two half-centuries and he again looms as the key wicket for England’s bowlers.
"I’ve always focused on making sure that I am right for that first innings of a series," Ponting said.
"I feel I’ve got a big say in how this series develops after the first innings of a series.
"Looking back on the last series here I made 196 in the first innings of that and made 142 in the second Test in Adelaide.
"I just felt that I had given myself the best chance to do that and give my best to help the team set up the series.
"I’ve worked hard for the last eight weeks to be right to go for tomorrow. Hopefully, there’ll be another hundred around the corner tomorrow."
Ponting said although it was psychologically important to win the opening hour of a Test match to establish the pattern of the game, it would not make or break a team’s chances.
"Test cricket is about five hard long days over five different games and, as we’ve seen in the last couple of Ashes series, they have been decided at crucial moments long after that first hour of the first Test match," he said.
"We’ll be doing everything we can to win that first hour tomorrow.
"There’s no doubt that that first hour of the first Test on the last tour here set up our whole campaign.
"The way we were able to capitalise on some very nervous English players that day definitely gave us a bit of a kick-start to the series and gave us all the confidence that we needed."
Steve Harmison made a howling start to the 2006-07 Ashes series in Brisbane with his wild first delivery spearing well wide of the pitch to Andrew Flintoff at second slip.