Ponting tells Australia to sharpen up
Australia captain Ricky Ponting said his side would have to raise their game after a seven-wicket loss to the West Indies in their opening match of the ICC World Twenty20 here at the Oval.
Although not a shock on the scale of hosts England's four-wicket loss to the Netherlands, this result was certainly far from expected and left Australia effectively needing to beat Group C rivals Sri Lanka at Trent Bridge to have a chance of getting through to the second phase Super Eights.
"We'll have two weeks in Leicester if we have an early exit here - that won't be good for anybody," said Ponting, who is set to lead Australia in the Ashes Test series in England starting in July.
But, joking aside, Australia could well be spending more time in the English Midlands than they would like should they turn in a similar performance against Sri Lanka to the one they produced at the Oval on Saturday.
West Indies captain Chris Gayle's 88 off just 50 balls - featuring four towering sixes including one off fast bowler Brett Lee that went over the top of the pavilion and out of the largest ground in England - saw his side to their victory target of 169 with more than four overs to spare.
Australia, without the hard-hitting Andrew Symonds, sent home on the eve of the tournament due to an "alcohol-related incident", had been on the back foot from the start with Jerome Taylor removing Shane Watson and Ponting for ducks.
"We've just got to win on Monday," Ponting also told reporters at the Oval. "We were sloppy and they were a bit sharper than us. We spoke about getting the first over of each innings right.
"As it turned out we lost two wickets in our batting innings and they took a lot off our first bowling over as well. I thought 169 was going to be a competitive total if we could take wickets up front with the new ball but they took us on, hit some early boundaries and got the momentum going their way. They outplayed us for sure."
Gayle and Andre Fletcher (53) took the game away from Australia with an opening partnership of 133 - the third highest stand for any wicket in Twenty20 internationals.
"We didn't under-estimate them," insisted Ponting. "We know how dangerous a side they can be and in this format of the game I don't think you can afford to take your foot off the accelerator against any opponent as we saw last (Friday) night with the Holland-England game.
"The shorter the format of the game, the closer it brings teams together and when the opposition have players like Chris Gayle they can beat anybody.
He added: "This form of the game can change very quickly. We know there's nowhere else we can go now and we will work on our skills in this form ahead of the Sri Lanka game."