Sydney: Veteran Australian batsman Ricky Ponting says his key motivation to keep playing is the hurt of losing back-to-back Ashes series, as he works to stay fit for another crack at arch-rivals England.
Former skipper Ponting, 38, could break Steve Waugh's record as Australia's most-capped Test cricketer in the first match of a three-Test series against Sri Lanka in December, with his eye on making the 2013 team to tour England. Ponting, who was dumped from the one-day international squad in February, has played 165 Tests, three shy of Waugh, his predecessor as skipper, with a South Africa series ahead of the Sri Lanka showdown.
He told ABC Sport that the Ashes series defeats were what keeps his motivation strong, particularly losing crucial Tests at The Oval. "No doubt about that. It's one of the biggest motivators I have right now," he said. "Every morning (when) I get up and go to the gym and I'm pounding away at the treadmill, it's with some of the memories of The Oval on the last couple of tours. They're not things that go away easily. We've been very close there on the last couple of tours.. haven't quite been good enough and we were nowhere good enough for the last Tests over here. I think all Australian cricketers have a point to prove to England and more importantly a lot to prove in England."
Ponting has not played much cricket since the tour of the West Indies that ended in February, but Australia coach Mickey Arthur has backed him to be a key figure in next year's Ashes series in England. Ponting said he was ready to fight for his place on the team. "If there's someone out there better than me that is breathing down my neck and pushing me out the side, that's international sport," he said. "If there's someone better than Michael Hussey or David Warner that's the way it is. You have to be picking the best team to win every game you play."