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Ponting: 'No surprises from Pakistan'

Despite the youthful make-up of the Pakistan side Australia captain Ricky Ponting says they contain "no surprises" ahead of the MCC Spirit of Cricket Test at Lord's.

'Great place to play'

Usually when Ponting is at Lord's it's for an Ashes Test against England but he says the change of opponent hasn't changed Australia's build-up:

"Our lead up has been pretty much the same as it would have been for an Ashes Test.

"It's obviously a great place to play, there's a lot of excitement around our group at the moment because we've got so many young guys in the group and probably a couple of guys who're going to make their debuts tomorrow - they're obviously excited about playing their first Test Match, at Lord's.

"We haven't thought or worried too much about the opposition we've been just trying to get ourselves in the best shape we can. Everything's coming together well.

After Australia's defeat to England in last year's Ashes Test there was concern that some of the younger players didn't cope with the pressure of playing at Lord's. Ponting is confident history will not be repeated:

"I haven't got that feeling this time." he said. "The guys that have been here and done it before should hopefully be better for the experience of last time.

"But it is something we'll be talking to those young guys about - just about the enormity of the game.

"There's already enough pressure on them to be worried about where they're playing.

"It's always a special occasion playing in your first Test Match - it's something I've never forgot 140-odd Test Matches on.

"It's a special occasion for those guys and a special venue to play."

Batting order reshuffle

Ponting confirmed the Australia line-up would be the same as it was for the four-day warm-up game against Derbyshire:

"We've got what we've got as far as warm-up games are concerned.

"[Mitchell] Johnson's coming back after a long lay off and Hilfenhaus has had a few four day games under his belt and his body's good.

"We got a lot out of the Derby game and we've one more day now to top-up. We'll see how the boys perform over the next five days."

Ponting admitted to already having one eye on the upcoming Ashes Series against England, in Australia this winter.

"[This is a building block towards the Ashes] but we're not solely focused on November.

"I see this as a great chance for some of the younger guys to gain some more experience about Test cricket. It's the true form of the game. It's the game that tests you out the most, so we're going to be learning a lot about our players.

Ponting will also cement the shuffle in the Australia batting order trialed at Derbyshire - vice-captain Michael Clarke moving up the order to bat at number four:

"It's what I see as best for the team so that's the way it'll be - not only for this series but through the Ashes as well."

"I think [Clarke's] game is very well suited to playing higher up the order, against the newer ball - probably more than Hussey's is at the moment.

"He has been our most consistent player. He's developed his game nicely over the last couple of years."

No surprises

Clarke scored 136 in the 2009 Ashes, marking his name on the Lord's Honours Boards something that, despite 39 career Test centuries, Ponting has yet to do:

"It'd be great to get up there - it'd be nice to have done it in an Ashes Test... that still might happen!

"You're being a bit silly if you're trying to put extra pressure on yourself to get on the Board here.

"Every game that I've played I want to get a hundred in be it first innings, second innings, here or Sri Lanka.

"Unfortunately my record hasn't been great here - I've got an opportunity over the next few days to try and salvage that a bit but if it doesn't happen it's not the end of the world, I've made enough of them around the world to be reasonably satisfied with what I've done."

Despite both sides' relative inexperience, Ponting is confident he knows enough about the opposition:

"There are no players in their line-up that'll surprise us, we've played a fair bit of cricket against most of the Pakistani players.

"They've had a change of leader obviously, they've lost probably their classiest batsman [Mohammad Yousuf], certainly the guy that looked the most dangerous in Australia.

"Any Pakistan side - there's always a lot of flair, a lot of excitement about the way some of their players can play we know all about that.

"We just have to make sure we don't give them the chance to play their best cricket over the next couple of weeks."


Tickets are still available for all four of the first days of the Test (tickets for day five are not sold in advance).

Prices start from just £30 for adults and only £5 for under-16s.

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