Ashes will be the mother of all duels
By: Khalid A-H Ansari
Aussies determined to get back at England after 2009 Ashes loss|
On the eve of today's first Ashes Test at Brisbane, almost 15 months after surrendering the Ashes to Old Enemy England, Australian captain Ricky Ponting says there is "nothing I want right now than to stand next to my team-mates victorious in one of the greatest Test series ever played."
In a signed article in yesterday's The Australian newspaper, Ponting writes: "There probably hasn't been a day go by since that I haven't thought about that series: what we did well, what we didn't do well enough and what we would do to perform better if we could start all over again."
Looking back at the Ashes series in England, Ponting writes: "Three or four very costly sessions of cricket saw us hand back the Ashes urn in England.
"That's all in the past now, but we do get the chance to 'start all over again' when the summer's series commences.
"For me, I have been unrelenting in my preparation for this series. I'm well aware of the importance of this series for my country, for my teammates, myself and Cricket Australia."
After a few days of uncertainty over his fitness, vice-captain and star batsman Michael Clarke was yesterday pronounced fit to play today.
This means that a historic day in Australian cricket - the first time that a Pakistani of Australian origin, the highly rated Islamabad-born Usman Khawaja, will wear this country's cherished baggy green Test cap, will have to wait.
Australian spin bowling legend Shane Warne, who last night premiered his new celebrity show on television, says, "We are in for a cracker of a series because England no longer fear Australia. England have a good chance of winning the first Test in Brisbane because they've brought a major change with them for this series - attitude.
"They are not intimidated by the Australian attack and honestly believe they are a better team. They were embarrassed here in the last series, losing 5-0. This time they believe they can win. And let me tell you in sport, self-belief is half the battle."
However, patriotic Australian that he is, Warne says: "For the record, I think Australia will win this series - by one Test."