Cricket Australia Items/news/2012/4/22/ponting-ignores-the-pressure

Ponting ignores the pressure

UPDATED 20 November, 2012 10:53PM AEST | by James Willoughby 17

Under-pressure Australian veteran Ricky Ponting claims to be more than happy with his present form.

Ponting has posted scores of four, 14, seven and 41 during Australia's tour of the West Indies, leading his critics to again question the 37-year-old's value to the Test team.

But after scoring 544 runs in four Tests against India during the Australian summer, at an average of 108.80, captain Michael Clarke and coach Mickey Arthur both feel Ponting is still contributing.

The Tasmanian needs a big score in the third Test in Dominica, which starts on Monday, to silence the doubters, but claims to be pleased with his cricket at the moment.

"I feel very comfortable with the way that I'm playing," Ponting told reporters on Saturday (local time).

"I finished the (Sheffield) Shield season really strongly and I have felt in really good shape the whole time that I have been here.  I'm a bit oblivious to how much has been spoken about me (in the media) as well, because I haven't been reading too much.

"I think the start of my innings in the second innings last week was as good as I've played in a while. Although the numbers or the runs didn't come in those first few innings, it was nice to get a few last week. Hopefully a big score is around the corner."

Conditions are likely to be in Ponting's favour at Windsor Park, with a more batsman-friendly wicket expected for the final Test of a series which Australia lead 1-0.

 And that might also mean left-armer Mitchell Starc is recalled into the side for the fourth Test, with Clarke not likely to select two front-line spinners for the second Test in a row.

 "There's a little bit of grass on the wicket which we haven't seen for the tour so far," Ponting said.

 "By all accounts it's normally a pretty good surface this one, hopefully a few more runs are scored in this game.

"Mitch (Starc) has been in the wings the whole tour, so with a bit more grass on the surface there's probably a chance we will go in with three quicks this game compared to the make up from last week."

Despite having the Frank Worrell Trophy wrapped up and not being able to lose the series, Ponting says the tourists will be taking nothing for granted in the upcoming Test.

"Every match we play is a chance for us to win a Test match and that's the way we're looking at it," he said.

"Nothing will change going into this Test match then it was going into the first Test in Barbados. We want to continue to improve our Test cricket and keep winning games of Test cricket, and if we do that then the confidence around the group lifts."

The match in Dominica will be Ponting's last at international level for at least six months, given that he is a Test-only player for Australia.

And the 37-year-old conceded a lengthy break is not something he is used too.

"It's a bit different but it's a good opportunity to take a step back from international cricket and then focus on getting fit, strong and mentally prepared," he said.

"I've known for a little while now that this was going to be the case ... to have a relatively long break that I have got coming up ...for 20 years it's been pretty unusual for me.

"I'll make sure I use my time wisely and I'll make sure I have a good break at the start of it.

"I'm planning on spending a fair bit more time in Tassie (Tasmania) this year and doing a lot more work with the Tassie boys down there leading into the start of the Sheffield Shield season."

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia

First Posted 22 April, 2012 2:09PM AEST

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