RICKY Ponting says he was rapt to see the Australian Test team rediscover its mean streak over the summer after being “too nice” in recent years.
Ponting said the door was wide open for Australia to re-establish itself as the dominant force of world cricket after a promising past 12 months that yielded series wins over fellow heavyweights England and South Africa.
The former Australian captain was at Albury’s Commercial Club yesterday to speak at the annual Brock-Burrum football club luncheon.
“One of the big things I really enjoyed last summer was seeing the older, hard-nosed, Aussie cricketers like Mitch Johnson and Brad Haddin back out there again,” Ponting, who turns 40 later this year, said.
“I loved the way the boys went about it last year.
“It was back to the old days of international cricket, which is the way I learnt how to play and always enjoyed playing.
“I think we’d started to go away from playing the way Australia has always had great success with.
“We almost got a little too nice and too worried about how we presented ourselves and how we prepared and all that stuff.
“It became an ultra high-performance environment around our team and you need that to a certain degree but you need to have fun and enjoy it, as well.”
Ponting, who sits second on the all-time list of leading Test run- scorers, predicted big things from captain Michael Clarke and his side over the coming years.
“We’ve got a group of young blokes with a mix of good experience around as well that are on the way up,” Ponting said.
“I think the sky is the limit for the group.
“You look at guys like Dave Warner and Steve Smith and those guys that are going to be the future of Australian cricket. Things look pretty positive at the moment.”
Ponting said the faltering form of rival heavyweights England and South Africa would aid Australia in taking the No. 1 spot this summer when India arrives.
“There are some good teams out there at the moment but I feel that teams probably aren’t as strong now as they were two or three years ago,” Ponting said.
“There’s no doubt the current Australian team has improved, but I think we probably got the English team at the right time last summer and probably the same degree with South Africa.
“Both of those sides were on the way down, if you like.”
Ponting was invited to speak by former St Kilda star Justin Koschitzke, a former Brocklesby junior.