Ponting: Pressure on Strauss
Australia captain determined to get the better of opposite number
By Joe Drabble. Last Updated: 19/05/09 4:00pm
Ponting: Mind games
Australia captain Ricky Ponting has kicked off this summer's Ashes mind games by targeting the wicket of England captain Andrew Strauss.
"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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The England skipper failed to impress with the bat when the sides last met Down Under in 2006 - averaging 24.70 during the tourists' 5-0 series reverse.
However, since taking over the captaincy from Kevin Pietersen at the start of 2009, Strauss has scored three centuries and has become an integral part of England's top order.
But Ponting, who is yet to captain the Baggy Greens to Ashes glory in England, is hoping to get back on top of his opposite number when the series gets underway at the SWALEC Stadium in Cardiff on July 8.
"He's an important player for them," Ponting said of the Middlesex batsman.
"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.
"And as we all know the Australian team tries to target the captain a little bit and put the captain of opposition teams under a bit more pressure, and if you can do that you can generally take another couple of guys down with him and that's what we'll be trying to do."
Ponting believes former captain Pietersen, who has scored just one century in his last 10 Test innings, remains the most significant threat to his side's Ashes defence.
"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, so he's one that we're going to have to keep under control as well," he said.
Asked to rate the England side's current form Ponting replied: "They seem to be going well, I mean 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 (against the West Indies in England), they've been pretty relentless and ruthless the way they've gone about it, making them follow-on in both Test matches.
"I've said for a while they'll shape up as a good side and I've got a bit of a feeling that a few of their guys from 2005 might even be back in around the group again, so that's what we'll be preparing for anyway.
"I've been lucky enough to achieve a lot of great things in the game and play in a lot of very good teams and we've won and done 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."
Ponting indicated that all-rounder Andrew Symonds as well as pace duo Brett Lee and Stuart Clark are likely to make the squad, which will be announced on Wednesday.