Vaughan axe no surprise to Ponting

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Ricky Ponting said it was no shock to him that Michael Vaughan had been left out of England's 16-man Ashes training squad announced earlier in the day.

Updated: June 23, 2009 07:07 IST
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Australia captain Ricky Ponting said on Monday it was no shock to him that Michael Vaughan had been left out of England's 16-man Ashes training squad announced earlier in the day.

Vaughan was England's captain when they last won the Ashes in 2005 on home soil after a 2-1 series success over Ponting's then side.

But the Yorkshire batsman hasn't played Test cricket since standing down from the England captaincy during last year's home series loss to South Africa and has been struggling for both runs and fitness at county level this term.

So far this season Vaughan has done little for Yorkshire to press his claims for a Test recall, scoring only 159 first-class runs at an average of 19.88 in six matches.

He has also been struggling with a longstanding knee problem.

Also omitted was fast bowler Stephen Harmison, who has been out of the Test side since being dropped during the tour of the West Indies earlier this year.

Ponting, speaking on Monday at Hove where Australia play Sussex in a four-day tour match starting on Wednesday, told reporters: "I know Vaughan and Harmison aren't in it (the squad).

"I'm not surprised those two guys aren't around with the way their current group have been performing of late. I think it pretty much picked itself to tell the truth."

Australia are set to face Harmison shortly before the first Test after it was also announced on Monday that the Durham pace bowler had been included in the England Lions, the national 'A' side', team to play the tourists at Worcester from July 1 to 4.

The Ashes opener at Cardiff starts on July 8 but Ponting was unconcerned about the prospect of the bowler once dubbed 'Grievous Bodily Harmison' causing injury to his players, saying he wanted the team to have the best possible preparation ahead of the five-Test series.

"At his best we all know how good he (Harmison) can be. At one stage there he was probably the best fast bowler in Test cricket in the world.

"To face guys who've played a bit of international cricket before, good preparation for us and give those guys a chance to put their names in front of the England selectors as well.

"You want to be facing best bowlers, best opposition you can before you go into a Test series," Ponting, one of the world's leading batsmen, said.

"That's what being well prepared is all about."

Someone with a point to prove will be Lions captain Ian Bell, who has lost his place in the Test side to Ravi Bopara and Ponting, who was captain during Australia's 5-0 Ashes series win on home soil in 2006/07 said: "Ian Bell is captain of that side so they will shape up really well."

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