Ricky Ponting continues to believe Australia will win the Ashes 2-1. In an interview to the London Evening Standard, the former Australia captain said Michael Clarke's team had a lot of hard work to do after a close 14-run defeat to England at Trent Bridge but things were still on track.
"It is a Test match lost but for the Aussies it will reinforce them to think just how close they are and maybe there's not that big a gulf between the teams," said Ponting. "If they can take that away from the first Test, it will do them good at Lord's this week."
While speaking about the threat from Kevin Pietersen, Ponting said the star England batsman's record was not "head and shoulders above" Clarke's.
"His record wouldn't suggest he is better than Clarke. And Alastair Cook's record is a lot better than Pietersen's," Ponting pointed out. "He has more hundreds in fewer Tests than Pietersen and as an opener. Look, Kevin is a destructive and match-winning player but you have to judge batsmen by their records."
What he said next is what will probably not go down too well with Sachin Tendulkar fans. Comparing batsmen who hit centuries with the ones who help teams win, Ponting graded Brian Lara of the West Indies higher than Tendulkar, the Indian batting hero. "Sachin and Lara were the two standout batsmen for me," Ponting said. "Lara won more games for his team than Sachin probably has. I'd lose more sleep as captain knowing Lara was coming in to bat next day than I would with Sachin. You always found a way to restrict Sachin if you needed to. Lara could turn it on in half an hour and take a game away from you. For me, it has never been about making hundreds, it is about winning games and series."
Ponting also spoke about the astonishing debut of Ashton Agar, the Australia No. 11 who scored 98 in his career's first Test outing with the bat, at Trent Bridge. "I played a bit of state cricket against Agar earlier in the season," said Ponting. "He bowled to us in the nets before the Test match and I got a chance to play a Shield game against him really late in the season in which he batted very, very, well. So I knew he had some talent with the bat."
Ponting went on to comment on the DRS controversy, saying the issue was not with Stuard Broad not walking after edging Agar to the slip. "This whole thing has been misunderstood because it wasn't to do with the fact Broad didn't walk," said Ponting. "You wouldn't have heard one Aussie player mention this had anything to do with walking. It was just how bad the decision was in the first place. That's what everyone should be talking about."
Ponting said a captain needs players he can trust with DRS. "You need people around you who you can rely on," he said. "You need a wicketkeeper you can trust and bowlers who are going to be 100 per cent honest and not just think about a victim in their wicket column if it goes their way.
"What we shouldn't forget is that DRS was actually brought in to get the howlers out of the game. As it turned out the other day, the Aussies were probably hoping they could get one with (Johnny) Bairstow and then they ended up missing a howler with Broad."