Andrew Strauss may be correct in his analysis that stopping Ricky Ponting scoring runs is perhaps the biggest key to England retaining the Ashes in Australia.
England have it all to do to keep hold of the Ashes as they have not won in Australia since 1987 and have lost the last five series’ to be held down under.
Meanwhile, they fell to a 5-0 whitewash in the last series in 2007, with England struggling to even come close to winning any of the five test matches.
Ponting was unsurprisingly named man of the series thanks to scoring 576 runs at an average of 82.28 and a repeat of this will make Australia almost certain to regain the Ashes and beat England at 8/11.
Strauss said ahead of England leaving for Australia: “The great player in their ranks is Ricky Ponting and he is the one guy that it’s important we get on top of early in the series.
“As captain he has a responsibility to lead the side and his record in Ashes series is very good.”
Worryingly for England is that Ponting has got better in each of the three Ashes series’ he has played at home against England.
He only averaged 11.75 in 1999 in four innings, but showed his qualities four years later with 417 runs in the series at an average of 52.12.
Many people will also fancy England to claim a series victory because of Australia’s recent average display in a 2-0 series defeat in India.
Despite their troubles, Ponting still managed to average 56 and if some of the other batting line-up turn up for Australia then it could spell trouble for Strauss’ men.
Ponting is the 3/1 favourite to be the top Australian series runscorer, with the patient Simon Katich the next best at 7/2 and big-hitting opener Shane Watson 4/1.
England are 2/1 to win the series, while it is 9/2 that the first draw takes place in the Ashes since 1972. See the full Ashes series winner betting odds market.