Ponting wants quicks to rise to Ashes challenge

Aus captain Ponting wants his inexperienced pace attack to make their mark in Ashes history after Lee was ruled out of the first Test against Eng.

updated: July 07, 2009 13:55 IST
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Australia captain Ricky Ponting wants his inexperienced pace attack to make their mark in Ashes history after fast bowler Brett Lee was ruled out of the first Test against England.

Lee was forced to withdraw less than 48 hours before Wednesday' series opener with England here at Sophia Gardens after damaging an abdominal muscle in his left side.

Now the 32-year-old, who has taken 310 wickets in 76 Tests, could be out until at least the third match of the series at Edgbaston.

His absence means Australia will go into Wednesday's match with an attack where no-one has yet bowled a ball in Test cricket in Britain.

However, Australia know about life without Lee.

Foot and ankle surgery after the 2008 Boxing Day Test loss to South Africa in Melbourne ruled him out of this year's return series in South Africa.

But the likes of left-arm quick Mitchell Johnson helped inspire Australia to a 2-1 away series win and now Ponting is looking for more of the same.

"Reputations and legend are generally made out of these bigger series and there is no bigger series than an Ashes series to do that," Ponting told reporters here Monday.

"One good initiative we have had since we have been here is during every game day or training day, one or two guys have been telling us what an Ashes series means to them, and what it means to be a part of it.

"Hearing them say some of the things they have said makes me think they really want to forge their own identities and make an impact in this series."

Lee was the pick of Australia's attack in taking six for 76 during last week's drawn warm-up match against the England Lions at Worcester.

"The thinking caps will have to go on and we will have to work out what the best XI will be in these conditions down here. We have got more than capable guys to step into that void."

Johnson and new-ball partner Peter Siddle now seem set to be joined by the reliable Stuart Clark with fellow seamer Ben Hilfenhaus competing for a place with out-of-form off-spinner Nathan Hauritz.
The recent wet weather in south Wales could see Hilfenhaus get the nod and Ponting said: "If it rains more then you would have to think about that, with the wicket being under cover for a couple of days."

Four years ago Australia's 16-year grip on the Ashes was ended in England when 'the Poms' beat them 2-1.

However, it was quickly restored in Australia in 2006/07 when Ponting oversaw a 5-0 Ashes series thrashing of England.

Much of the hype surrounding the upcoming contest has revolved around the events of 2005.

But a wry Ponting said: "All the talk since we have been here has been about 2005. Which is about 50 Test matches ago.

"You can understand from their (England's) point of view they will want to replicate everything that happened and they did in 2005.

"But I think we are a better team as a result of that series, and better prepared than we were then.

"If you look at our overall squad, we have got really good balance, not just in one certain area but right the way through.

"Our fast-bowling attack - all five of the guys feel as though they should be in the team - is a real positive for us.

"We have flexibility as well in that all of the bowlers are very different in what they do and what skills they have.

"We have got a good blend of experience and youth in our batting as well.

"I think those things puts us slightly ahead of whatever England have got."