Aussies go to Asia with Ashes in mind: Ponting

Published: Tuesday, September 5, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney: Australia will have the Ashes series firmly in mind when they embark on a One-day series in Malaysia next week and the Champions Trophy in India in October, skipper Ricky Ponting said today.

Australia's next test match will be the Ashes opener against England in Brisbane on November 23, but Ponting sees the two one-day competitions as crucial for preparation as they bid to wrest the prized urn back from England.

''I don't think One-day form as such counts for a lot as far as test form goes, but if you're out in the middle, scoring runs or taking wickets, it doesn't matter what form of the game you are playing,'' Ponting told reporters.

''That's the way we have to approach it. Once we're in Malaysia and in India, we've got to have the bigger picture in mind as well.'' Australia open the series in Kuala Lumpur next Tuesday against the West Indies, with 37-year-old fast bowler Glenn McGrath due to make his first appearance for the side since January. India complete the three-team line-up.

Ponting said he approved of the recovery plan for McGrath, who stepped back from international duty at the start of the year to help his wife recover after a recurrence of breast cancer.

''We've spoken long and hard to Glenn over the last few months about what he thinks his best preparation is, and he thinks it is to go into the summer this way,'' Ponting added.

''Every time he's been to India and returns he's felt like he's been bowling very well. It's a hard place to bowl over there, with the conditions the way they are, but he thinks it's a great workout for him and the rest of the bowlers.'' Ponting was unabashed that McGrath, who was named in Australia's 14-man Champions Trophy squad on Monday, is only likely to have one first-class match, against England in Sydney in November, before the Ashes curtain-raiser.

''You've got to trust him to a certain degree,'' Ponting said.

''There was lots of talk about whether we should take him or whether we shouldn't, but at the end of the day he wanted to be a part of it.'' After the tournament in Malaysia, Australia head to India as they try to lift their first Champions Trophy title. Their campaign begins against a qualifier in Mumbai on October 18.

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