Ponting says India series integral before Ashes
Coolum: With all the usual hype of the forthcoming Ashes series with England, Australia skipper Ricky Ponting and vice captain Michael Clarke are careful not to diminish the importance of a two-Test series in India.
"We have to make sure we don`t get too Ashes-focussed," Ponting said Monday at a team camp north of Brisbane.
Australia plays on the subcontinent in Mohali beginning Oct. 1 and Bangalore from Oct. 9, along with three limited-overs matches later in the month at Kochi, Vishakapatnam and Goa.
"It`s important to beat them, a rivalry is a rivalry, and they are the No. 1 team in the world," Ponting added. "You have to judge yourself by them."
Clarke also said it was important that his side stay focussed on the India series.
"I know it`s the old cliche, but my experience from Test cricket is as soon as you take your eye off the ball, that rusty gate comes back and hits you in the face," Clarke said.
"I think it`s really crucial ... playing India anywhere in the world is very tough, let alone playing them in their own conditions."
Ponting admitted there has been animosity between the sides in the past.
"They`ve got a few prickly characters that have sort of got under our skin a little bit, but we have to get over all that stuff," he said. "When things like that happen, it makes everyone else just want to beat them, there is more motivation. But really, it`s all buried, done and dusted."
Ponting said any security concerns over playing in India will be handled by Cricket Australia and its staff.
"We will rely on what the experts have to say and trust their judgment," Ponting said, adding that a pre-tour visit will be conducted by security staff to check out hotels and venues.
The Commonwealth Games will be held in New Delhi from Oct. 3-14. There have been heightened security concerns in India since terror attacks in 2008 left 166 people dead in Mumbai.
Clarke has mostly pleasant recollections of India, particularly Bangalore, where he played his first Test for Australia on Oct. 6, 2004.
"Good memories ... scored 151," Clarke said. "Not bad, I`ll take it."
Clarke went on to play a major part in his team`s 2-1 series victory, Australia`s first in India in over 30 years.
He remembers Bangalore as "one of the loudest places" he has toured.
"We had a one-day match there and Ricky (Ponting) was five meters away, screaming at the top of his lungs," Clarke said. "I couldn`t hear a word he was saying."