Ponting backs same XI to finish the job at The Oval
Former skipper looks at the potential team make-ups for the fifth Ashes Test and urges Australia to win the series with victory at The Oval
Sam Ferris at Old Trafford
9 September 2019, 08:45 AM AEST
Now that Australia have retained the Ashes urn with a tense win in Manchester, Test great Ricky Ponting has urged Tim Paine's side to put the icing on the cake with victory at The Oval to seal the series.
Australia's 185-run win at Old Trafford means Australia take an unassailable 2-1 series lead into the fifth Test, starting on Thursday, meaning they have already retained the Ashes they won on home soil in 2017-18.
But Australia have not won a series on English soil since 2001, an 18-year drought that includes four unsuccessful attempts as well as the ongoing campaign.
Paine's team put aside the heartbreaking one-wicket defeat at Headingley to bounce back in grand fashion, and Ponting wants to see the visitors finish with a historic win in London.
"I think it's one thing to retain them, but it's a different thing to win them and I think that should be the focus now," Ponting cricket.com.au.
"They need to focus on winning and not let England back into the series.
"One thing that's been proved for everybody and one thing I've always believed is there's no such thing as momentum in cricket.
"English players and fans, I'm sure, were coming away from Leeds talking about how they had all the momentum and how that was going to be a turning point in the series.
"I think that just goes to show you that's a load of rubbish.
"It's all about how you turn up and front up under pressure and Australia have handled the pressure better in this game than England have."
The win at Old Trafford was built around player-of-the-match Steve Smith, who scored 211 and 82, and an all-round bowling effort, led by world No.1 Test quick Pat Cummins' seven wickets.
But despite the victory, Australia's top order is still yet to fully fire in this series, and the fast bowling attack might need replenishing after a gruelling Test and given there are just three days until the series finale.
Cummins bowled 48 overs in Manchester as part of his 164.1 overs for the tour, which comes off the back of playing every match in Australia's World Cup campaign.
Right-armer Josh Hazlewood has also had a heavy burden since his first Test at Lord's, bowling 121.3 overs, including 42.3 at Old Trafford.
But both quicks have excelled, with Cummins capturing a series-high 24 wickets, while Hazlewood has 18 in three Tests.
With the bat, David Warner has failed to score in his past three innings and is averaging 9.87 in the series, while his opening partner Marcus Harris has scored 46 runs in four knocks.
But given Australia has retained the urn, Ponting said he would be reluctant to change the batting order.
"They might think about the fast bowlers and just the workloads Cummins and Hazlewood have been through in this game," Ponting said.
"Patty has been up for a long time, played all the World Cup games, played every Test match here and shouldered a lot of the workload, so I'm sure that will be spoken about.
"Davey has obviously struggled but he's a quality player and if you looked at that, even if they were to leave him out of that game, he's going to start back in Australia anyway because his record in Australia is so good.
"I can't see them making any changes.
"They backed Harris in a couple of games ago for certain reasons so keep the group together and hopefully have some slight improvement in most of those players in The Oval Test."
While Australia's changes might be minimal, England have a number of questions over their line-up, according to Ponting.
Ponting says the position of Jason Roy, who had his most productive Test of the series in the middle order at Old Trafford with scores of 22 and 31, will come under scrutiny.
Roy has been clean bowled in his past three innings, lunging forward and being beaten on either side of his bat to leave his stumps exposed.
No.7 Jos Buttler is also under pressure, says Ponting, after averaging 16.25 this series as a specialist batter.
"England need to think about their third quick, think about their spinner and one or two of their batters,” he continued.
"I was impressed with (Joe) Denly, he moved from No.4 to open, and while he got a bit of a working over in the first innings, he looked pretty comfortable in the second innings.
"Jason Roy, I'm sure they'll look at. That technique and technical deficiency that he's got, if you've got someone like that and bowlers like Cummins and Hazlewood honing in there every ball, you're not going to last too long with any sort of movement off the pitch or in the air.
"Jos Buttler's another one, maybe.
"I've had a look at his record pretty closely and he's got one hundred in 35 Test matches and only got five first-class hundreds in his career.
"If you're expecting him to come out and get Test match hundreds when he's only done it five times in his life, that's probably not going to happen.
"England will have a look at a few changes, but that's for them to worry about, not Australia."
2019 Qantas Ashes Tour of England
Australia squad: Tim Paine (c), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner.
England squad: Joe Root (c), Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jack Leach, Craig Overton, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes (vc), Chris Woakes.
First Test: Australia won by 251 runs at Edgbaston
Second Test: Match drawn at Lord's
Third Test: England won by one wicket at Headingley
Fourth Test: Australia won by 185 runs at Old Trafford
Fifth Test: September 12-16, The Oval