Mind’s been lagging behind: Ponting
Brisbane, Feb 19: Stand-in captain Ricky Ponting lauded his team’s overall performance after they beat India at The Gabba convincingly. The veteran, who was leading the side in absence of Michael Clarke, was especially pleased with the bowling display of Brett Lee and Ben Hilfenhaus.
In the post-match media interaction, he spoke about Australian cricket and his role in the side. The veteran has subsequently been dropped from the ODI squad on account of poor form (five consecutive single-digit scores).
Excerpts from the press conference:
On Australia’s dominating performance
I wouldn’t say particularly with the ball, our batting was pretty good today as well to get to that sort of total batting first. We felt it was good, just a little bit over par. Most of the batters came off today. The wicket was slightly on the slower side for a Brisbane one-day wicket. I [liked] the way we approached our batting today, being a little bit more patient at the top, giving ourselves a chance to establish partnerships, keeping wickets in hand until the end of the innings, and being able explode a bit in the last 10 overs. It’s the way we play our best one-day cricket, and I think we did that really well today. Batting aside, it’s been long since I have seen an Australian team bowl as well as they did tonight. The way they were able to be aggressive early on with the new ball, but at the same time be able to restrict India from scoring boundaries, was absolutely first-class. So full credit to Brett [Lee] and Ben [Hilfenhaus]. Their new-ball spells were outstanding. For Ben to come away with a five-for in his first game in a long time was great reward for him.
On Ben Hilfenhaus
I think the selectors have had this game plan for Hilfenhaus for quite a while. We always know here in Brisbane the ball is going to swing a little bit, particularly with two new balls we have got now. We knew the conditions would suit him, particularly after we won the toss. The ball normally does a little bit more at night here. But I thought his control early on, the lines and lengths he bowled early, along with the aggression, was the reason he bowled as well as he did. I thought we just had their batsmen under control pretty much from the first couple of overs of the game.
Hilfenhaus: Obviously nice to be back in the coloured clothing. Today was a pretty good performance form the whole team. We knew we had to address a few things. To be part of a pretty good win is a good feeling.
On being jaded after a long summer
It hasn’t been that long a summer the last couple of weeks; I haven’t spent much time in the middle. But there’s a few of the guys that have – as this one-day series has gone one – started to feel the pinch a little bit. As I have said all the way through, this is international cricket, you have got to find a way to get yourself up and get yourself through. Sometimes you are not always feeling at your best, so I think we have managed to do that really well today. To be able to bounce back like we did today and show the energy that we showed [was commendable]. I thought the game was a real momentum turn for us as far as the series is concerned, but it is fair to say that I have struggled in the first five games.
On his availability and team selection for next game
At the end of the day, I am available for selection for the Hobart game. I think the selectors are talking about the squad tomorrow afternoon so I am not going to put my hand up and say I want a break, because when you are going through a lean trot like I have in the last couple of games, you want to be able to turn that around. We will see what the selectors come up with tomorrow.
On whether he wanted to take some time off before the next game
The way it has worked is, we have travelled Monday, had Tuesday off, then travelled again Wednesday morning. Seems like a long time off, but there’s only been one day off. So I haven’t done any extra batting until yesterday. When we travelled yesterday, I got pretty much off at the hotel and came straight down to The Gabba and did probably another hour and a half of batting yesterday, before today’s game. But when you are in this sort of time that we are in this summer, [it is] really important [that] you manage your time as well as you can. Make sure you can get as much training as you need done, but also give yourself a chance to freshen up both physically and mentally. I think for me the last couple of weeks, the body is staying in touch with everything, my mind has been a little bit behind where I need it to be. So the next couple of days are important for me now. After another disappointing innings today, it’s a good opportunity for me tomorrow and Tuesday to have a really good think about what I need to do to pay well for the remainder of the summer.
On whether he would play one-day cricket beyond this summer
On going to the West Indies
On whether he asks himself what else was left to achieve in one-day cricket
If that time ever comes for me, when I start questioning if I want to play the game or not, the time has already passed you. You should have given up the game. People ask me similar questions, I guess, through the Tests as well, before the Indian series, I had a lot of questions asked. If I still thought I could do it, if I still thought I had the passion to keep playing, definitely yes. I wouldn’t have run to the nets yesterday for an hour and a half if I didn’t have that determination to try and make myself better and improve everyday. That’s always been the way I have gone about my cricket. There’s never a training session that goes by where I leave the training track without being a hundred percent happy with what I want from the training day. That’s the way I have always been about my cricket. That’s the way I’ll finish.
On whether the Test and the ODIs were different in terms of preparation
I don’t think so, no. I can’t see how it can be any different at all. My passion for the game is not my passion for one form of the game. It’s my passion for representing my country, it’s my passion for representing Australia.