Ponting pre­dicts Ashes stroll for Aus­tralia

Daily News - - SPORT - CRICKET

MEL­BOURNE: For­mer Aus­tralia cap­tain Ricky Ponting says England’s only hope of win­ning a Test in the up­com­ing Ashes se­ries is the day/ night match in Ade­laide and has pre­dicted a 4-0 vic­tory for the hosts.

Ponting sav­aged England’s bat­ting or­der and said the ab­sence of all-rounder Ben Stokes, along with in­juries to their fast bowl­ing stocks, would play into Aus­tralia’s hands.

His comments come af­ter fierce crit­i­cism of the Aus­tralia bat­ting line-up from for­mer England greats Ian Botham and Graeme Swann.

“I’ve been a bit more out- ward than nor­mal about this one be­cause I hon­estly think that Aus­tralia will win re­ally eas­ily,” Ponting, who cap­tained Aus­tralia in 77 Tests, told Cricket Aus­tralia’s web­site (cricket.com.au).

“If you look through the cur­rent England team, they’re search­ing for an opener, they’re search­ing for a No 3, Stokes might not be there, a cou­ple of their quicks have gone down.

“I just think right now England have got more gaps and more cause for con­cern in not only in their 11 but in their en­tire squad, than what Aus­tralia have.”

England seamer Jake Ball is likely to miss the tourists’ fi­nal warmup ahead of the first Ashes Test, be­gin­ning on Novem­ber 23, in Bris­bane, af­ter suf­fer­ing an an­kle lig­a­ment strain in the tour match at Ade­laide Oval.

Their pace bowl­ing stocks took a hit ear­lier this week when Steven Finn was ruled out of the tour with a knee in­jury and re­placed by Tom Cur­ran.

Ponting said England fast bowlers James An­der­son and Stu­art Broad were on a “steady de­cline” but main­tain­ing a “rea­son­ably high” level of per­for­mance, while Aus­tralia boasted a flour­ish­ing bowl­ing line-up. The 42-year-old said England’s only chance of win­ning a match was the sec­ond Test in Ade­laide.

England won the last Ashes 3-2 on home soil but were hu­mil­i­ated 5-0 the last time they came to Aus­tralia for the se­ries in 2013/14. – Reuters

RICKY PONTING

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