Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) - - LIFE -

Aus­tralia bat­ting great Ricky Ponting has said the toporder must de­liver “big runs” af­ter the world cham­pi­ons went 1-0 down in a one-day in­ter­na­tional se­ries away to Eng­land.

The 2019 World Cup hosts beat Aus­tralia by three wick­ets in the first of a five-match cam­paign at The Oval on Wednesday.

Although Eng­land stut­tered dur­ing their chase, Aus­tralia were al­ways in trou­ble af­ter be­ing dis­missed for just 214, with spin again prov­ing their un­do­ing as Eng­land spe­cial­ist slow­bowlers Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid ac­counted for five mem­bers of their top seven be­tween them.

Glenn Maxwell (62) and Ash­ton Agar (40) tried to re­pair the dam­age but their sixth-wicket stand of 84 couldn’t change the course of the game.

Ponting, one of the out­stand­ing bats­men of his gen­er­a­tion, has joined the back­room staff of new Aus­tralia coach and for­mer Test team-mate Justin Langer for the tour.

Re­flect­ing on Aus­tralia’s slump to 90 for five on Wednesday, Ponting said: “It high­lighted again the im­por­tance of our top-or­der bats­man tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity and get­ting some big runs.”af­ter the early loss of Travis Head, Aaron Finch and Shaun Marsh put on 40 for the sec­ond wicket only for both bats­men to be dis­missed by Ali.

“We lost an early wicket but I thought Marsh and Finch’s part­ner­ship looked re­ally promis­ing. But both of them get­ting out in suc­ces­sive overs to Moeen Ali, and all of a sud­den we are be­hind the eight ball,” ex­plained Ponting.

“It’s just lit­tle mo­ments like that were some­one just has to put their hand up and say ‘Right, I am go­ing to be the man that’s go­ing to get through here and do what my team needs me to do’ and it didn’t hap­pen,” he added ahead of the sec­ond ODI in Cardiff on Saturday.

“These play­ers need to be hard on them­selves and work out how they can im­prove on a daily ba­sis,” in­sisted Ponting, who made a bril­liant 140 not out when Aus­tralia beat In­dia in the 2003 World Cup fi­nal in Jo­han­nes­burg.

Nev­er­the­less, Ponting was con­fi­dent of an im­prove­ment be­fore the fifth ODI in Manch­ester on June 24.

“It didn’t hap­pen (Wednesday) but there is cer­tainly enough skill and ta­lent there to push on and win some games through the re­main­der of this se­ries,” he said.

The 43-year-old, who is com­bin­ing his coach­ing role with a prior com­mit­ment to com­men­tate on the se­ries for tele­vi­sion, added: “Be­ing on a tour in Eng­land you get four hours on the bus with the boys and I will be able to sit down with the young blokes and talk cricket.

“I love do­ing it.” This is Aus­tralia’s first in­ter­na­tional cam­paign since a con­tro­ver­sial tour of South Africa where for­mer cap­tain Smith and his deputy Warner -- two of the world’s lead­ing bats­men -- were given year-long bans for their roles in a ball-tam­per­ing in­ci­dent dur­ing the third Test in Cape Town in March that also saw Cameron Ban­croft handed a nine-month sus­pen­sion for ap­ply­ing sand­pa­per to the ball.

Dar­ren Lehmann re­signed as coach to be re­placed by fel­low for­mer Aus­tralia bats­man Langer.

Amid talk of Aus­tralia be­ing more re­spect­ful to­wards their op­po­nents -- Langer said Smith’s side had be­haved like “spoilt brats” in the run-up to Cape Town -- Ponting was en­cour­aged by the way play­ers were “re­ally em­brac­ing this new cul­ture and way for­ward for Aus­tralian cricket”.

He added: “There is great buy-in from all the play­ers about the di­rec­tion Justin and the lead­ers want to take it and that is half the bat­tle. So far that seems to be the case.” AFP

For­mer Aus­tralia cap­tain Ricky Ponting takes part in a prac­tice ses­sion at the Oval cricket ground in Lon­don on June 11, 2018 ahead of their one day in­ter­na­tional se­ries against Eng­land. (AFP PHOTO)

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