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Twenty20 can make us stronger

Australia captain Ricky Ponting believes Twenty20 cricket can actually improve the skills of his world champion side.

Australia captain Ricky Ponting believes Twenty20 cricket can actually improve the skills of his world champion side.

The Aussies, who face England in a 20-over contest at the Rose Bowl tomorrow evening, comfortably won the only previous encounter at the newest form of the international game against New Zealand last winter.

Having been so dominant on the way to retaining their World Cup two years ago and increased their healthy leads at the top of both Test and one-day rankings since, their main challenge has come from within rather than opponents.

Some ex-Australian players have suggested the current tourists can go through this entire trip unbeaten and Ponting alluded to their supremacy today when he hinted only Andrew Flintoff, at a push, of England’s squad would pressurise his current clan for a place.

The standards Ponting’s side have set argaubly make them the best side to have played the game and their aim is now to claim bigger, faster, more meaningful victories.

“If you look at what one-day cricket has done to Test cricket over the years, it has made it a more skilful game and it’s a result, I think, of the amount of one-day cricket guys are playing around the world,” Ponting said.

“I think this Twenty20 game could actually have an effect on the one-day game in the same way.

“Guys know they can play their shots from ball one and get away with it and do it well on the batting side of things.

“Bowlers have to adjust a lot more, a lot quicker and think on their feet through their bowling spells, so hopefully we will see some of that transfer across to the 50-over game.

“One-day scores in general have increased over the last few years quite a bit; whereas 220 or 230 used to be a good score in one-dayers now 320 or 330 is a very good score.

“And to score 350 in a day in Test cricket is not unusual and I put that down the amount of one-day cricket that is played.”

The Ashes showdown is what has gripped the public both here and down under the most and Ponting is keen to enter that series on July 21 with a psychological advantage by stringing one-day victories together.

“We are excited at the prospect of the tour and what lies ahead but we must not look too far into the future,” he said.

“We have got 10 one-day games to play first and we are hoping to win every one of those games and be able to take some momentum and some skill development out of it into the Test matches.”

England will endeavour to show the gulf between the sides has closed during the NatWest contests and prove it was never as wide as Ponting’s playful slight about the chances of Flintoff making the Aussie team.

When asked before the ICC Champions Trophy defeat at Edgbaston last September how many of the then English side would get in, Ponting insisted the question was not a relevant one.

Today, Ponting talked of Flintoff’s undoubted talent in a radio interview and later reflected: “He is a key player, I am not sure if I actually said he would get into our side but I think most sides around the world would be looking for a player like him.

“To have an all-rounder of his abilities is what every team is after, I guess.

“We see Adam Gilchrist as being that player for us.”

England captain Michael Vaughan retorted: “The last 10 years they have not had any so if we have now got one in their team we are improving!”

Australia’s brute of a hitter Andrew Symonds is bound to be integral to plans for a total of similar magnitude to which they reached against the Kiwis, one which included 12 sixes.

While England supporters in Southampton will be anticipating fireworks from Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen, they should also take cover when Birmingham-born Symonds strolls to the crease, given his extraordinary returns for Kent.

“This sort of game lends itself towards the way Andrew plays, that’s for sure,” said Ponting. “He has been very successful at this game at county level as well, so he will find himself up the order somewhere.”

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source - scotsman.com

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