Freddie in our sights, says Ponting - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Freddie in our sights, says Ponting

By John Coomber 09/11/2006 05:37:42 PM Comments (0)

Australia will attack England at their strongest point by targeting skipper Andrew Flintoff in this summer's Ashes showdown.

Captain Ricky Ponting cranked up the psychological warfare on the eve of England's first tour match by saying they were out to get the hero of the last Ashes battle.

"It is important that we do that with him, more so for his playing abilities than his leadership," Ponting said on Thursday at the launch of his latest book Captain's Diary 2006.

"We all saw last time around that he can be dynamic with the bat and the ball.

"I think their team really do run off him a little bit. If we can restrict him and put him under pressure right through the series, then hopefully a few of their other players might start feeling the pressure as well.

"If we can start taking more than one player down it gives us a great chance of winning."

Ponting's warning revives the tactic of "mental disintegration" used so ruthlessly by his predecessor Steve Waugh.

By singling out Flintoff, who has not fully recovered from ankle surgery, Ponting is hoping to unsettle England before they have bowled a ball in anger on the tour.

Last year Flintoff was the key man in England's first Ashes series victory in almost 20 years.

He was England's leading wicket-taker with 24 wickets, and turned match-winning batsmen like Adam Gilchrist and Damien Martyn into also-rans.

He also plundered 402 runs, more than anyone apart from Kevin Pietersen and Marcus Trescothick, both of whom come to Australia with question marks over form or state of mind.

Ponting's aggressive demeanour on Thursday is designed to leave the English in no doubt that Australia will be a much more formidable outfit than the one which spluttered through the last series.

Even the 22-word prologue of his book drips with belligerence.

"This Australian team is full of men with courage, commitment and a no-surrender attitude. If we're down, it's never for long," he wrote.

Ponting said he was not interested in how England were preparing themselves for the Ashes defence.

He was more focused on making sure his side continued the momentum of 11 victories in 12 Tests since the Ashes and the triumph in the Champions' Trophy in India.

"I'm not really fussed about what they're doing in their preparation," he said.

"We've just got to really focus on our preparation, making sure we get that right.

"Everyone having at least one state game will give us a great opportunity to do that."

Ponting said England would not be too worried if they did not beat the Prime Minister's XI in Canberra on Friday.

"They'll be looking to get out there and have a good solid hitout, a good bat and a good bowl and start getting used to the Australian conditions.

"I think that's all they'll be trying to achieve. I'm sure they'll be looking to win the game still."

But he described their insistence on having the game against NSW reduced to a 14-a-side practice match as "slightly mind-boggling".

"I'm not sure why it was agreed to that way. But there must be reasons behind it for them."

He said he did not think it would spoil the spectacle for fans who might have missed out on Test tickets.

"I think it probably gives the public an even greater chance of seeing more players.

"I still think the cricket will be pretty entertaining and still be good to watch."

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