LEEDS, England, (Reuters) – Australia are seeking an eighth consecutive test victory this week but captain Ricky Ponting said the current team would never compare with the more illustrious sides he has played in.
“I don’t think there’s a team in the world that compares to the team that was, five or six years ago, arguably the greatest team that ever played the game,” Ponting told reporters at Headingley yesterday while preparing for the second and final test against Pakistan.
“So it’s no good trying to compare other teams to that team.” Ponting, 35, has played in successful Australia sides since his 1995 test debut, including one under Steve Waugh’s captaincy which won a record 16 successive tests from 1999 to 2001. Ponting also compiled a 16-match winning streak from 2005-2008, when the current team began to form.
The 1999-2001 side included great players such as Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Waugh and his twin brother Mark, wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist, Michael Slater, Matthew Hayden and Brett Lee.
Although the current side made it seven wins in a row with a 150-run victory over Pakistan at Lord’s last week, they do not have the same all-conquering aura as their predecessors.
“What I think we have around this group is a good balance of youth and experience with (Steven) Smith and (Tim) Paine coming in. And (Marcus) North and (Doug) Bollinger are still quite new to test cricket,” Ponting said.
“Then when you look at our batting we have (Simon) Katich, myself, (Mike) Hussey and (Michael) Clarke so we have got some great experience on our side as well. That’s what you need for big series.” The team’s match winners last week were Katich with innings of 80 and 83, while Shane Watson and North for excelled with the ball.
“I don’t ever look back on what the other teams did, I’m just always looking forward day after day with this group of players and finding ways how we can all improve ourselves. That’s one of the great strengths of these guys that are in this side,” added Ponting.
“They are never happy with what they have done and we are not happy if we have won seven games in a row, we want to make it eight this week. I want to keep challenging the guys and that is what we will continue to do while I’m in charge.