Ponting thrilled about change to Test cricket

Published: Friday, May 23, 2008, 15:25 [IST]
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Australia captain Ricky Ponting has so much enjoyed the change of pace of the longer form of the game that he obliged with his 35th Test hundred of 158 helping his side reach 301 for four against West Indies when stumps were drawn on the opening day of the first Test on Thursday at Sabina Park.

Ponting scored a hundred in Australia's previous Test against India in January in Adelaide, but he struggled to come anywhere near his best in the subsequent One-day Internationals and his brief run in the Indian Premier League.

"I didn't feel like I did much wrong at all to tell the truth," Ponting told reporters. "I probably played and missed three or four balls, and didn't hit too many in the air, and the one that I did, I got caught on."

Ponting batted serenely for a shade short of six hours and, at times, literally appeared as though he was toying with the West Indies attack which was hamstrung by the withdrawal just prior to the start of key strike bowler Jerome Taylor with a stiff shoulder.

He said he felt good to be in control at the wicket with plenty of time to build an innings, rather than to be confronted with the slap-and-dash of ODIs and Twenty20s.

"It's nice to know you have six hours to go out and build an innings," Ponting said. "In something like the IPL, sometimes you have got six balls or six minutes to go and have a hit.

"The start of a Test series is always exciting for me. We have played a lot of limited-overs cricket of late, and our last overseas Test was nearly two years ago and we only played the five Tests in the whole of our last summer.

"Test cricket has been a bit of a rarity for us of late, so I've been looking forward to putting the whites on again and 'the Baggy Green', and the green helmet, and getting out there, and spending some real quality time in the middle. I got that here."

Ponting acknowledged that he had been working pretty hard at his game, and in the practice match last week against Jamaica, he felt some things coming back again.

"The last Test innings I had was a hundred, but I struggled through the ODI series and never felt that comfortable and this innings I felt comfortable again," he said.

"I am pleased about this innings because it was hot, and when the hardness went out of the ball it was hard to score runs, and I think all the batsmen had to work hard for their runs.

"But the second new ball has been taken, we are four down with 301 on the board. Hopefully, we can build on that with the new ball tomorrow, and with guys like Andrew Symonds and Brad Haddin to come, we can really push on and post a really big first innings total."

Although this was Ponting's seventh Test hundred against West Indies and fourth in a row in the Caribbean, he had no special reason for his success against these opponents or on the islands.

"Last time, I had a really good tour to the Caribbean, and I have gotten off to a good start this time," he said.

"It's just funny. Sometimes you go to places that you enjoy playing and you have a lot of success. The Australian teams over the years have really enjoyed playing their cricket in the Caribbean - and we've got lots of good memories here - but this is all behind us."

Ponting however, is still mindful of his side's ultimate objective of winning the Test and he believes they have to assert their position on Friday's second day.

"150-odd - I'm happy with that, but it's day one of a Test match and lots of things can happen quickly in Test cricket," he said.

"We have to build on this on the second day, and make sure we put two really good days together. If we do that, we will in the box seat in the game. It's important that we don't let our work so far slip.

"The pitch is good to bat on, but as you saw at the late in the day when the ball got softer, it was pretty hard to score runs, and there is a bit of variable bounce. To be four for 301 at stumps, I think we are in a really good position in the game."

Australia have won 12 of the last 13 Tests they have contested against West Indies. They hold the Frank Worrell Trophy - symbol of Test supremacy against West Indies - and they have not lost a Test series in the Caribbean since 1991.

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