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Page last updated at 10:49 GMT, Tuesday, 19 May 2009 11:49 UK

Aussies make Strauss Ashes target

Andrew Strauss in Melbourne, December 2006
Strauss walks off after his dismissal in Melbourne in the 2006-07 Ashes

Ricky Ponting has revealed Australia will target England captain Andrew Strauss in this summer's Ashes series.

Strauss has been impressive with the bat since taking over as skipper at the start of the year but struggled when England toured Australia in 2006-2007.

"We try to target the opposition captain a little bit," said Australia skipper Ponting ahead of Wednesday's announcement of their Ashes squad.

"If you do that you can generally take another couple of guys down with him."

And Ponting added: "He's an important player for them."

Australia's Ashes squad, which will be named on Wednesday, is set to include pacemen Brett Lee and Stuart Clark. Lee dismissed Strauss three times in the 2006-2007 Ashes, while Clark removed the left-handed opener on four occasions.

Strauss averaged 24.70 in a series in which England were thrashed 5-0 by a rampant Australia outfit that included veterans Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne and Justin Langer for the last time.

But the 32-year-old has an impressive career average of 43.96, with 17 Test centuries.

Ponting said: "We had the better of him out here in Australia last time, we had him under a lot of pressure and it's important that we start the series off the same way against them over there."

But a certain other player with a tremendous record against Australia will also be taxing the Australian think tank.


"I still think Kevin Pietersen's their class player and he seems to rise to the challenge of playing against better teams and better oppositions," stated Ponting. "He's one that we're going to have to keep under control as well."

Asked to rate the England side's current form, Ponting replied: "They seem to be going well. They would have been disappointed with the series loss in the West Indies but the only way to right the wrongs is to put some good performances on the board.

"And they've certainly done that in these last two games. They've been pretty relentless and ruthless the way they've gone about it, making West Indies follow on in both Test matches. I've said for a while they'll shape up as a good side."

Ponting, who was speaking at an event in Sydney to raise money for children affected by cancer, is confident his new-look side will be up to the task.

Australia came close to losing their number one ranking in Tests after series defeats by India and South Africa over the winter. But in their most recent rubber, they bounced back to win in South Africa in March.

"I know all the players have had one eye on the Ashes for a long time and we've been building our Test cricket up along the way to cope well and play well in English conditions," said Ponting, 34, who will be skippering Australia for a third Ashes series.

"With the group of players that we've got together now and the way that we performed in South Africa, I'm sure that we can play a level of cricket in England that's going to be good enough to win the series."

After overseeing his team's 2005 Ashes defeat, Ponting went on: "We've won almost everything there is in the game but one thing I haven't done as a captain is to win an Ashes series in England, so I'm certainly extra motivated this time around."

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Australia clinch series victory
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Australia in England 2009
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