Ponting thinks of Ashes

Australian skipper Ricky Ponting admits that his side has already been discussing the highly anticipated Ashes series against England starting at the end of the year.

After England upset Australia by reclaiming the Ashes 2-1 at home last September, the next installment of cricket's most prestigious two-nation Test event has been one of the most talked about sport series in decades.

England head to Australia in November and the Aussies are already starting to prepare. Speaking from South Africa where Australia leads the Proteas 1-0 in the Test series, Ponting underlined that Ashes revenge is high on his side's agenda for 2006.

"There's a lot of anticipation already building up around the Ashes," he told BBC Sport

"It's not far away now. We have all spoken about it and we are all looking forward to it a lot.

"It was very disappointing for us what happened in the last series and we want to make up for it this time around."

Australia claimed the first Test in South Africa due in large part to debutant paceman Stuart Clark's nine wickets, and while Ponting praises the rookie bowler, he said that he is not in the absent Glenn McGrath's league yet.

"He's a big tall guy, in the McGrath mould a little bit," Ponting said.

"He bowls a similar sort of pace and lands the ball in good areas most of the time.

"It was a great start and if he bowls that way I am sure we will see him play a lot more Test cricket for Australia.

"But I don't think anybody will ever play for Australia again who will be as good as Glenn was, or as good as Glenn still is."

Ponting also said that the Australian team moved forward in the best possible fashion after the Ashes defeat, with Test series wins against the West Indies and South Africa over the summer, and has no doubt his teammates will be ready to put England under pressure.

"We've pushed on. There are other things we have had to focus on and to all of our credit we have managed to do that really well since we have been back from the Ashes," he said.

"But when it does come around I know we'll be up for it. I know we will be ready."

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