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Page last updated at 14:51 GMT, Wednesday, 19 August 2009 15:51 UK

Ponting piles pressure on England

Fifth Ashes Test, The Oval: England v Australia
Dates: Thursday, 20 August to Monday, 24 August Start time: 1100 BST
Coverage: Live Test Match Special commentary (from 1025 BST on day one, 1045 BST on remaining days) on BBC Radio 4 LW, 5 Live sports extra, the Red Button and BBC Sport website. Live text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobile phones. Also live on Sky Sports.


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Australia will target Trott - Ponting

Australia skipper Ricky Ponting believes England could be distracted by Andrew Flintoff's impending retirement in the deciding Ashes Test this week.

Flintoff, a star of the 2005 series, will quit Tests after The Oval match and Ponting said: "That's one thing they are going to have to worry about.

"There will be some distractions there. If you read the papers today it's all about Andrew going into retirement.

"They will have those things to deal with, but it will not worry us."

With the series poised at 1-1 going into the winner-takes-all contest, Ponting's men only need a draw to retain the Ashes.

It's fair to say that he's got a few more things on his plate right at the moment that we have

Ricky Ponting on England skipper Andrew Strauss

And Ponting used his final news conference ahead of the match to ramp up the pressure on England.

"A lot of our batsmen and bowlers are in very good shape," he added.

"England are probably questioning a few of their players. Making a change in their batting order is one, Ian Bell probably moving up to number three is another and Flintoff coming back from an injury has still got to be a bit of a concern for them.

"They seem to have a lot more little issues and niggles around their group at the moment then we do. Coming into such a big game like this, when you have got those sort of distractions, it can be hard to shake.

"It's fair to say that he (England skipper Andrew Strauss) has got a few more things on his plate right at the moment that we have. But it's amazing how quickly things can change and we are very aware of that."

And Ponting believes the inclusion of uncapped batsman Jonathan Trott in England's line-up is a big risk with the Ashes on the line.

"There will be huge pressure on him," he said. "It's always hard making your debut in a Test match against an Australian team let alone being in such a big game like this one.

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"Once we realised he was named in their side we have had a good chance to have a good look at the way he plays.

"There will be great pressure on him and it is up to us that when he gets the chance to bat that we keep him under pressure right from the start and don't let him get any cheap early runs."

There has been speculation that Ponting could also be playing in his last Test but the 34-year-old says he is fully focused on this week's match.

"I haven't really thought about whether this is my last Test or not," said Ponting."I have been focusing on my preparation as a number three batsman going into the game."

Despite not needing victory to take the Ashes urn back home, Australia vice-captain Michael Clarke says his side will be going all out for the win.

Once I arrived in England in the back of my mind there were memories from 2005 that I wish I could forget

Australia vice-captain Michael Clarke

Clarke insisted: "In the 50-odd Tests I've played we've never played for a draw. The forecast looks OK so we'll be chasing one result, and that's to win."

Australia squared the series with a comprehensive victory by an innings and 80 runs in the fourth Test in Leeds earlier this month, and Clarke says the mood in the camp is "very positive" going into the contest.

"We know it's going to be a really hard Test, but we're in a confident position at the moment," said the 28-year-old.

"I'm pretty confident we won't be out there trying for a draw. If we have no choice, then we have no choice. I'd rather draw 1-1 than suffer a 2-1 loss, but our attitude won't be like that when we walk out to the ground on Thursday."

Clarke, who is expected to shrug off a stomach injury to be fit for the game, fired an impressive 93 at Headingley to help Australia regain the initiative in the series.

He has scored two hundreds and two half-centuries in his six innings, making this series far more successful than in 2005 when he failed to reach three figures despite playing all five Tests.

Ashes finale build-up - View from Sydney

And the Australian vice-captain says his side are using memories of the losing series in England four years ago as motivation for this deciding Test.

"Once I arrived in England in the back of my mind there were memories from 2005 that I wish I could forget," Clarke said. "But that what makes you a better player, you learn from your mistakes as an individual and a team.

"The guys that played then will be really keen to make sure the results are a lot different come Monday."

Australia have to decide whether to include Brett Lee for the first time in the series, with the fast bowler declaring himself fit.

Lee took 3-37 against the England Lions at Canterbury last weekend but faces competition from Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus, Mitchell Johnson and Stuart Clark for a place in the attack.

Australia also have to decide whether to bring back spinner Nathan Hauritz after he was dropped for the fourth Test in favour of Clark.


Australia (from): R Ponting (captain), S Watson, S Katich, M Hussey, M Clarke, M North, B Haddin (wkt), M Johnson, S Clark, P Siddle, B Hilfenhaus, N Hauritz, B Lee



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see also
England struggle in deciding Test
20 Aug 09 |  England
Ashes bookmaker allegation probed
19 Aug 09 |  Cricket
Flintoff focused on Ashes decider
18 Aug 09 |  England
SA too strong for Trott - Arthur
18 Aug 09 |  England
Flintoff named in England squads
17 Aug 09 |  England
England gamble on uncapped Trott
16 Aug 09 |  England
Flintoff cleared for Ashes finale
10 Aug 09 |  England
Aussies win to level Ashes series
09 Aug 09 |  England
Pietersen named in Trophy squad
24 Jul 09 |  England
Flintoff quits Tests after Ashes
15 Jul 09 |  Cricket
ICC Champions Trophy 2009 squads
25 Aug 09 |  Cricket
ICC Champions Trophy 2009
05 Oct 09 |  Cricket
Australia in England 2009
20 Sep 09 |  England


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