Cricket: Ponting pledges unbeaten summer

Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting tonight vigorously defended his controversial decisions in the final Test against India and declared confidently his side could bounce back and win all six home Tests this summer.

Ponting was adamant Australia deserved to retain their No.1 ranking despite the 2-0 series loss and predicted his team would play "some of the best Test cricket we've seen for a while" in the upcoming home Tests against New Zealand and South Africa.

He said it was absolutely vital for the team to come out and make a positive statement after admitting India had played the more consistent cricket over the course of the four Test series.

"We have to play at a higher level than we did through the India tour, there's no doubt about that, and there's no excuses and there's no reason why we can't," Ponting said at Sydney Airport tonight.

"Just seeing the look on some of the guys faces on the plane, there is genuine excitement about moving on from the Indian series.

"It's important we put that series behind us as quickly as we can and we start focussing on whatever positives there were out of the Indian series and start looking ahead to New Zealand and South Africa in Australia.

"I've got total confidence that we can bounce back and that we can win every Test we play in Australia this year."

While several of his teammates were in no mood to talk upon their return to Sydney tonight, Ponting vigorously defended his controversial decision on the fourth day of the final Test when he opted to use his spinners and part-time bowlers to claw back a nine over deficit rather than turn to his quicks in a bid to get a series equalling victory.

He said he felt spinner Cameron White had been a good option because of the bounce he could get and that his pacemen needed a break after having been used for most of the pre-tea period.

Described as "ruthless" by New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori earlier today, Ponting felt he still deserved that reputation despite suggestions he had not gone all out for victory.

"I still feel the decisions I made weren't negative at all, I've had an opportunity to sit back over the last couple of days and think about those decisions I made there and then," Ponting said.

"Even talking to other players, I'm very comfortable with the decision that I made.

"I will continue to be a ruthless captain and a ruthless player and I expect all my other teammates are in exactly the same boat.

"And if they're not now, having lost a Test series in India 2-0, we have to look around for some other guys." Ponting said as captain he had an example to set regarding his team's over rate and getting nine or 10 overs behind was "borderline" not playing within the spirit of the game.

He expected Michael Clarke and Brett Lee to recover from their health problems in time for next week's first Test against New Zealand and thought Stuart Clark would be available after missing the last Indian match with an elbow injury.

He said the return of all rounder Andrew Symonds in a Twenty20 match on Friday represented the perfect opportunity for the allrounder's reintegration into the team and revealed he had been getting weekly updates on the player's progress.

"Everything that has been coming from him at the moment has been really positive about his passion and hunger and desire to get back," Ponting said.







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