Ponting believes that players need to be hard on themselves to improve the game

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Following a dismal batting show in the first of five ODIs against England, where Australia could manage only 214 runs on the board, batting legend and part of the backroom staff on the tour, Ricky Ponting has called for more responsibility from the top-order batsmen. The tourists had been reduced to 90 for 5 inside 20 overs of play, thanks largely to the spinners – Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid. It was only because of Glenn Maxwell and Ashton Agar – who added 84 runs for the sixth wicket – that the team managed to get to 214. While Maxwell scored a quick 62, Agar chipped in with a solid 40.

“It highlighted again the importance of our top order batsman taking responsibility and getting some big runs,” Ponting said ahead of the second ODI, on Friday (June 25) in Cardiff. “We lost an early wicket but I thought [Shaun] Marsh and [Aaron] 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.

“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. These players need to be hard on themselves and work out how they can improve on a daily basis,” the former Australia great noted.

Ponting linked up with the squad on June 10 with the experience of having been a part of the coaching staff in 2017 with the current head coach Justin Langer, and earlier this year with Darren Lehmann. The 43-year-old admitted that he’d been “really impressed” with how the unit shaped up for the series, but was left disappointed for it didn’t translate on the field. However, he remained hopeful that the team will bounce back quickly.

“From what I saw in training I actually expected a better performance than what we saw (at the Oval). Just with the whole vibe around the group I thought we might have seen something a little bit special from them. It wasn’t to be,” Ponting mentioned.

He also felt that the team was moving forward nicely ever since the catastrophic ball-tampering saga hit Australian cricket. There’s been a conscious shift in attitude that is being cultivated within the team by both the coach and captain. “What I have seen (since joining the squad) is a really focused group, a really calm environment and a group of guys that are really embracing this new culture and way forward for Australian cricket.

“I have only been here for a couple of days but I’m listening to what they have to say and everyone couldn’t be happier with the environment that’s been created. 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,” he added.

Ponting himself seems to be enjoying his new-found role after two good stints with the team earlier this year and last year, and with former mate, Langer, by his side, he intends to lend his experience to the younger blokes in the squad. “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,” Ponting said.

“I love doing it. I know there are a lot of young guys there that love to talk cricket and how we are going to improve for Saturday will come up. That’s what I am here for.”

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