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Ashes: Australia deserve criticism, says Ricky Ponting

Third Ashes Test: Australia v England
Venue: Perth Dates: 16-20 December Start time: 0230 GMT
Coverage: Listen live on Test Match Special on BBC 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW & online; highlights (UK only) and day's review on the TMS podcast; live text commentary on BBC Sport website; live on Sky Sports 1; highlights on ITV4

Australia captain Ricky Ponting
Ponting and his team have been in the firing line during this Ashes series

Australia captain Ricky Ponting says his team deserve the criticism they have received in this Ashes series.

A win in the third Test in Perth will see England retain the Ashes after a draw and win in the first two matches.

"Whatever criticism has come my or the team's way in the last few weeks has been warranted, we haven't put results on the board," said Ponting.

"We haven't played a level of cricket which is going to have people writing great things about us."

Australia enjoyed a dream start to the first Test, with Peter Siddle's hat-trick on the opening day at Brisbane putting them in control but England battled back to secure a draw, and then pulled off a commanding victory in the second Test in Adelaide.

Ponting already holds the unwanted record of being the first Australia captain in over 100 years to give up the Ashes to England twice - in 2005 and 2009 - and has come in for a lot of criticism for the team's performance so far in this series.

"It's been a bit different to most Ashes series," he said.

"There's probably more focus on the England team when they arrive than on Australia but it seems to be different this time around, for what reason I'm not sure.

"But all that sort of stuff is good ammunition to make us want to play well and have some positive things written about us."

Ponting's job has not been made any easier by continual changes to the team line-up.


Paceman Mitchell Johnson is expected to return to the bowling attack, having been dropped for the second Test, and there are likely to be two changes to the batting line-up, with Phil Hughes and Steve Smith coming in for Simon Katich and Marcus North.

But the under-fire captain admitted changes were inevitable in a struggling team.

"Changes have been made and that generally happens when you're not playing well," he said.

"When you're winning you can cover for guys who are a bit out of touch but we've not played well enough to cover for those guys.

"It's to be expected - that makes it a bit harder as a captain to be juggling things around and thinking about things in different ways but that's part and parcel of being a leader. You've got to find ways to do it and do it well, hopefully I can do it this week."

Strauss plays down bowler selection

When asked if he feared for his own future in the team, Ponting refused to speculate.

"That's out of my control - I can't afford to be thinking about these things," he said.

"I want to think about positives and what it means to do well with the bat and hopefully for the team to have a win.

"If I do that, everything looks after itself - if it goes the other way and we lose I'm not the one picking myself as captain. Hopefully it's a good week for us all and we don't have to answer those questions at the end of the game."

Team coach Tim Nielsen agreed with Ponting that the criticism the team had received was justified, but said the outcome of the series was still in their own hands.

"For all the doom and gloom being published around Australia and the world at the minute, the great thing about the game of cricket is how quickly it can turn around. You only have to look at that infamous first 15 minutes in Adelaide to understand that," he said.


"As difficult as it is to cop, there is good reason for the written articles and criticism of our team.

"Getting beaten by an innings in Adelaide opens all of us to questions, and the questions need to be answered by our group as soon as the Perth Test commences.

"England are playing good cricket at the moment, and they are rightly confident and in a good place as a team and individuals.

"However, the series is far from over, and I am looking forward to our group putting themselves on the line from the very first ball at Perth.

"We can turn the momentum around, and I am very confident that the boys will respond in a positive manner.

"Our challenge as a team now, to survive and thrive, and the third Test cannot come quick enough for me."

Langer unsure of Perth significance

Former Australia captain and coach Bob Simpson says the difference between the teams has been England's superior bowling.

"Their bowling has been exceptionally good and that's been the difference between the two teams. We haven't bowled well", Simpson told BBC Hindi.

But he dismissed the suggestion that Australia may try to tempt Shane Warne out of retirement at the age of 41, saying it would be "a backward step", and said Australia's current dip in form was an inevitable aftermath of the passing of the side built around such all-time greats as Warne, Glenn McGrath and Adam Gilchrist.

"We are now going into a period which follows every great team", he said.

"Once the great players go you are going to have a period where you have to re-group and hopefully, in few years, come up with a very good team."

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see also
Tremlett gets nod for Perth Test
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Jonathan Agnew column
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Strauss buoyed by Anderson return
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Aussies eye pace quartet for Test
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England seek win to retain Ashes
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Tuesday's Ashes gossip column
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Anderson returns to see new baby
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Broad to join Test Match Special
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Records fall as England draw Test
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England in Australia 2010-11
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