Pressure is all on Proteas, says Ponting

Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting says the pressure will be all on South Africa when the teams play for No. 1 Test team status in the next six weeks.

“There won’t be any added pressure on us, maybe on South Africa with that at the back of their minds,” Ponting said as the team left Sydney airport.

“They have probably been striving for a long time to be the No. 1, or recognised as the No.
1 Test team in the world. So maybe that will weigh on their minds more than ours.”

South Africa took the No. 1 ranking from Australia after beating the hosts 2-1 in a three-Test series ending in Sydney in January. It was Australia’s first home series loss in 16 years.

Australia will play three Tests in South Africa—in Johannesburg beginning on February 26, Durban on March 6 and Cape Town on March 19. The teams will also play two Twenty20 matches at the end of March and five limited-overs matches in April.

Selectors chose 20-year-old Phillip Hughes to replace retired opener Matthew Hayden when they named the most inexperienced squad in a generation for the tour. It also had to contend with retirements and injuries to frontline bowlers.

Ponting said he was looking to young fast bowlers Peter Siddle, Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus to stand up and forge an “identity” for themselves like Glenn McGrath did in the West Indies in the mid-1990s.

“There has been a lot of doom and gloom around in Australia this year with our cricket and the way we’ve played ... our results probably haven’t been what we expected or certainly what the public expected,” said Ponting.

“But there are a lot of positives around our group at the moment, things that I’m looking forward to being able to work with and players I’m looking forward to working with.”

Ponting said he expected vice-captain Michael Clarke to recover from back spasms in time for the three-day tour match against South Africa A in Potchefstroom starting on Friday.—Sapa-AP

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