Ponting says Australian cricket in great shape

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Sydney, Feb.20 (ANI): Captain Ricky Ponting is of the view that Australian cricket is in great shape ahead of their next two major assignments, winning back the Ashes and chasing a fourth-straight World Cup triumph.

"We're heading in the right direction in all forms of the game and with the exposure that we've been able to give a lot of the younger guys as well, a lot of them aren't so young any more in terms of having games of cricket under their belts," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Ponting, as saying.

"So we're in great shape as far as the next 12 months is concerned with the Ashes series back here and the World Cup (looming)," he added.

Australia is unbeaten in all formats at home this summer, and has developed new depth in their fast-bowling ranks.

The likes of Doug Bollinger, Ryan Harris and Clint McKay again performed well in Friday's 125-run thumping of the West Indies in the fifth one-dayer, at the MCG, while fringe batsmen James Hopes and Adam Voges also starred.

Ponting said the competition within the squad was a great pointer ahead of next summer's challenge to regain the Ashes from England, while it is now under a year before the next World Cup begins on the subcontinent.

Ponting was disappointed over the 15,538 fan turnout for Friday's match at the MCG, which was about half as much as the size of the crowd that watched St Kilda and Collingwood play an AFL pre-season game across the city at Etihad Stadium.

"I'm not sure if the lack of contest had anything to do with it at all," he said.

"One thing Australian crowds have always done, they've always come and supported their team and watched their team win, so I don't think we can be blaming that (a one-sided series) for (low crowds)," he said.(ANI)

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