London:Australia captain Ricky Ponting may have scored just one Test century in the past 12 months but England counterpart Andrew Strauss believes there's plenty of devil still left in the Tasmanian.
Ponting, one of the outstanding batsmen of his generation, will look to put a poor first Test against Pakistan, where Australia still won by 150 runs at Lord's last week despite scores of only 26 and nought from their skipper, behind him in the series finale at Headingley starting here on Wednesday.
Last year Strauss led England to a 2-1 Ashes series win over Australia.
But in November the opening batsman is set to face the much tougher task of trying to win a series in Australia - something no England captain has done since Strauss's Middlesex predecessor Mike Gatting in 1986.
Ponting is set to be Australia's captain for that series too and Strauss, speaking at an England sponsor's event in Warwick, central England, on Monday, said: "I certainly would not write players of the quality of Ricky Ponting off.
"Clearly if there are weaknesses there then we have got to try and exploit them when we come up against him but I think there is still a lot of cricket left in him."
Ponting, 35, has put his recent dismissals down to bad luck rather than fading reflexes.
"My last few dismissals have been two run outs and two that I have hit out of the middle of the bat and gone straight into bat pad's hands," Ponting said after Australia's victory at Lord's.
"I actually felt I was just starting to get things moving in the first innings at Lord's and to have a dismissal like that (caught at short leg) was a bit of a kick in the backside."
He added: "I'd like to think everything is as sharp as it's always been."
After the Pakistan-Australia series is over, Pakistan remain in Britain for a four Test series against England followed by Twenty20 and one-day international matches.
Should Australia make it 14 wins in a row over Pakistan this weekend and extend the record for most successive Test victories by one nation over another, Strauss knows the pressure will be on England, or else risk giving Ponting's men a boost, when they face the Pakistanis in their Test series opener at Trent Bridge starting July 29.
Since Lord's, former Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi has retired from Tests and opener Salman Butt, who made the team's only two fifties against Australia at 'the home of cricket' last week, has been appointed captain.
"Over the last few years there has been a lot of upheaval for Pakistan but that has not necessarily prevented them from being very dangerous," Strauss said. "We are not expecting anything other than a very motivated and talented side.
"It is a step up in competition (England beat Bangladesh 2-0 in an early season Test series) and with half an eye on the Ashes, it is important we win as many of these games as possible.
"It is a big challenge for us, and one we are not going to shirk from."