Ponting promises no repeat of 2005 Ashes

CARDIFF: Australia captain Ricky Ponting said his current side were well-placed to avoid the errors that saw them lose the Ashes in England in 2005 as he prepared to lead them into this year's edition.

"Where we were deficient in 2005 was not winning the crucial moments in that series," Ponting, who oversaw Australia's 5-0 Ashes series win on home soil in 2006/07, told reporters at Sophia Gardens, where the first Test starts on Wednesday.

"We made enough mistakes to give England an opportunity to win some of those games," the star batsman also told reporters Tuesday.

He added: "We also saw from 2005 you can have a couple of stand-out players but still lose the series.

"Where we are at at the moment, the way we've prepared, the feel around the group, I am just sure we won't make those mistakes again. I've got a really good feeling we are good enough."

Ponting has yet to win an Ashes series in England as captain but he stressed it would be no more special for him to win them as skipper than as a player.

"It would be great for me, great for everyone in our squad."

Australia will be without Brett Lee after the fast bowler was forced to withdraw Monday after damaging an abdominal muscle in his left side.

Now the 32-year-old, who has taken 310 wickets in 76 Tests, could be out until at least the third match of the series at Edgbaston.

However, Australia know about life without Lee, who missed their series win in South Africa earlier this year following foot and ankle injuries, with left-armer Mitchell Johnson and Peter Siddle sharing the new ball.

Ponting insisted the remaining competition for a spot in Australia's attack had not come down to a straight choice between paceman Ben Hilfenhaus and off-spinner Nathan Hauritz, whose two wickets on this tour have cost 260 runs.

"We've got a number of different ways we can go. Do you play four quicks, three quicks and a medium-pacer (Andrew McDonald or Shane Watson), or three quicks and a spinner. All those things are right in the equation for us."

This will be Australia's first match in Cardiff since their shock loss here to Bangladesh in a one-day international in 2005, where controversial all-rounder Andrew Symonds was dropped from the side on the morning of the game after a late night out in Cardiff.

"I don't remember the Bangladesh game to tell the truth," said Ponting, There's a completely different feel around the ground."

This will be the first Test ever played in Cardiff and Ponting, jokingly, said: "I'm expecting a lot of support down here, considering we are in Wales.

"The fans in England really appreciate good cricket. Yeah, we'll kop a bit through the next couple of months but at the end of the day it's generally pretty light-hearted and can help you get through a day's play.

"The guys know the intensity in this series will lift from anything they have played in the past."

Ponting added he first became aware of the importance of the Ashes as a teenager in Tasmania when his uncle, Greg Campbell, was selected for the 1989 squad that toured England.

"It goes back a long time for me. My uncle was selected in the 1989 Ashes touring squad. I remember going down to his house just after his kit arrived, with his baggy green (cap), his jumper and his playing shirts.

"To go through that and touch the baggy green cap was where the dream of playing Ashes cricket really all started."