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August 27, 2009

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Ponting eyes 2013 Ashes

RICKY Ponting was barely back in Australia before he started talking about his determination to make another Ashes tour of England, as captain or not.

Ponting became only the second Australian captain to lose two test series in England when his lineup lost the fifth test at The Oval in London last Sunday to surrender the Ashes.

The 1-2 series loss plunged Australia from No. 1 to No. 4 in test rankings, coming on top of losses away in India and at home to South Africa, and prompted calls for Ponting's dismissal as captain.

"Having a pretty bitter and sour taste in my mouth at the end of that test match, I'd love to be able to go back and give it one more crack," Ponting said yesterday in Sydney. "I've got to worry about that the next 12 or 18 months and see if all that hunger or commitment is still there. Right at the moment it most definitely is. It's probably higher right now than ever before. Who knows, 2013 might be something achievable."

The 34-year-old Ponting left his deputy Michael Clarke in England in charge of the lineup for two Twenty20 matches and the start of the limited-overs international series.

He didn't rule out the notion of the split captaincy in test and limited-overs duties becoming permanent, saying England uses Andrew Strauss as test skipper while Paul Collingwood leads the one-day team.

"There's absolutely no reason why that couldn't happen," Ponting said. "It has happened in the past with Australian teams."

Ponting was in charge when the heavily favored Australians, with bowling greats Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath, slumped to a 1-2 loss in the 2005 series in England, ending an almost two-decade domination of the Ashes.

He recovered from that by winning the International Cricket Council's player of the year awards in 2006 and 2007 and leading the Australians on a 5-0 series sweep of the return Ashes series Down Under.

Despite picking up some unenviable results as captain since the retirements of Warne, McGrath and a host of senior players, Ponting thinks he's got the best credentials to lead the team.

"I've got a lot to offer the team, as a batsman and as a captain," he said. "If it ends up getting to the point where I'm not the captain, my hunger and determination to keep playing this game are as good as ever."


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