Perth: Veteran Australian batsman Ricky Ponting concedes he is not on top of his game right now but feels the hundred against India in the second Test signals the start of something big for him.
Ponting has promised better performance flowing out of his willow in the third Test at Perth, starting here on Friday.
Having got a couple of 60s in Melbourne and 134 in Sydney, Ponting feels his batting blues are receding.
"I`m not going to rest on my hundred (of Sydney). I feel it`s start of something big for me. I want to give myself the best chance to perform again," said Ponting ahead of the third Test.
"I`ve made some progress in the last few weeks. There were a few technical flaws I`ve been working upon. In Sydney, for the first 30-40 runs, I was probably still not there but on Day Two, I was batting probably as free as I`ve felt in a long time. I missed just one ball on the second morning.”
"When you start making as few mistakes you certainly do take confidence. But my batting is still a work in progress. Over Johannesburg, Brisbane and my two 60s in Melbourne, the gradual improvement was there. Finally, I got the hundred I was pushing so hard for," the former captain told reporters.
"It was all about my initial movement. In the last few months, I have tried different things, things which I had never to do before. My game was probably in a rut like it never was technically before. It was important I break it down in the best and simplest way to address and fix it.”
"I`m not completely on top of my game but I`m not far off."
During the Melbourne Test, Ponting had said he wanted to go out on a high but he clarified he wouldn`t have retired.
"Probably not, as the team is still going through the transitional phase. There are younger group of players coming and you want the right mix of experience and youth. Some of the innings of Hussey and me came at a pretty critical stage in the two Tests when the game was pretty much in balance when seniors stood up.”
"It`s important the more experienced players to stand up and show by example. (Ed) Cowan, (David) Warner and (Shaun) Marsh should get to spend a lot of time with (Mike) Hussey, (Michael) Clarke and myself to teach those guys how different bowlers and different situations are dealt with. It`s still part of my job now."
Ponting said he has started to get more relaxed on the cricket field though he didn`t say there has been a decision made on whether he should bat at the critical number three position.
"I`ve always been relaxed on the field, always had a smile on my face. It`s important seniors don`t wear their heart on the sleeve and set an order for the rest of the team. You want to be a neutral sort of person, no matter whether you are making runs or having a lean trot. You need to set the right example for young guys," he said.
Talking about a veteran in the rival camp, Ponting believed with every passing innings and his 100th century eluding him, it must be putting some sort of pressure on the incomparable Sachin Tendulkar.
"I don`t know what`s going on in his head, I wish sometimes I could. (His 100th century) probably has been spoken for a long time and so every innings which go past, he must be wishing he had made that great milestone which is round the corner."
"But he (Tendulkar) is playing very well and every time we take his wicket, we show how important it`s been. There are not too many negatives you could find with Sachin`s stats for sure. All we try to do is to get him out quickly," Ponting said.
The pacers of both the units must be pretty excited about bowling on fast and bouncy WACA pitch.
"All the fast bowlers (in the Australian team) are pushing each other hard. I remember a previous Test when (Michael) Kasprowicz and Brett Lee were trying to be better than each other and nobody wanted to face them in the nets. It`s a healthy competition that each are pushing each other to limit.”
"(Ryan) Harris is a class bowler and (Mitchell) Starc is a huge potential going forward. It will be an interesting selection.”
"As for Ishant, I think he bowled pretty well in this series as well. He bowled good spells in Melbourne and then in Sydney. He hits the deck and he should be able to extract bounce here. All of us, the top order, need to give special attention to him."
Ponting said he had heard good things about the WACA surface lately.
"It`s pretty green at the moment but there is still a day and a half. I don`t tend to look at the pitch.”
"We as Australian players growing on such pitches can adapt faster to these conditions than Indians. Speaking to the state players, I am told the old characteristic of WACA is back and it`s back to its good old self."
"A lot of associations are going for drop-in pitches. This was all the special characteristic of Australian pitches would be gone. You don`t want to play on a slow, dead docile pitch at WACA. Cricket is not supposed to be like that here," Ponting said.
"The conditions in Australia are different: Brisbane is pretty fast, Hobart was different this time; Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, everything is different.”
"Now it`s coming back to old self in WACA. It`s exciting when batsmen are weaving and ducking short balls. Batsmen also get benefit with square-of-the-wicket shots played."
Ponting believed the bad blood of Sydney affected his team four years ago and that India then were on top of their game.
"There was a fair bit going on leading to this Test match and right through to Adelaide. It didn`t have a huge impact on the way India played but probably it did impact us. India executed their skills better than we did. We want to keep working and improving our skills and hopefully the results will go well this week."
Ponting again said he was all for DRS even though he believed it was not perfect.
"It`s not uniform even though my first impression was it was compulsory. A couple of weeks ago you play in South Africa where it is used and now it is not used. I understand there`s a worry it`s not perfect but we are getting more correct decisions and that`s great for the game."