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'Australia is going through transition'

December 24, 2008 16:53 IST

Beleaguered captain Ricky Ponting on Wednesday defended Australia's recent defeats, saying it was going through a transition phase with youngsters coming in just when seniors were running out of form but claimed he was enjoying the challenge.

Australia suffered a humiliating loss in their first Test against South Africa, who managed a record run-chase of 414 at Perth earlier this week, after being thumped 0-2 by India in that country. 

"Everyone knows that Australia is going through a transition phase at the moment, which presents an exciting challenge that I'm really enjoying," he said.

"The strength of the team in the past was when younger guys came in everyone stood up and you didn't notice that transitional phase. But now we've got two or three young guys all in at the same time and a few of us are off the boil, so  everything is being highlighted at the moment," he wrote in his column for The Australian.

Ponting said he was still judging the newcomers and learning what treatment would work for them.

"The biggest part of captaincy as far as I'm concerned is understanding the different personalities in the team well enough to allow you to communicate with them properly.

"The hardest thing about the younger guys in the squad is not knowing how they're going to react under the different pressures of international cricket and finding the best way of communicating with them.

"As captain, I and the other senior guys are still learning a fair bit about the younger guys and what makes them tick. Whether you're better off giving them a pat on the back or a rocket," he said.

Ponting also admitted the onus was on him and urged other senior players to make sure team did not go off track. 

"The team will only ever be as strong as its leaders and more experienced players. We understand it's our responsibility as senior players to bring on the next generation and, more importantly, play a successful brand of cricket that's going to make the next generation of kids want to get out and do the same thing," he said.

The Australian captain also emphasised he was the most disappointed man after the loss to South Africa at WACA, which was second in row for the team at this venue, the first being against India.

"A lot of people have expressed disappointment over our loss to South Africa and I can assure everyone there are no more disappointed people than us in the team who failed to win the first Test.

"No one's expectations are higher than mine, hence my disappointment when we were beaten by what is a very good South Africa side which played some excellent cricket. As captain the buck stops with me when we fail to compete as well as we should," he said.

Ponting blamed batting in the second innings more than bowlers for the debacles and insisted that senior batsmen had to pull up their socks.

"It was also our batting in the second innings, when we should have batted them out of the match and not given them a sniff of victory. Senior guys like myself, Matty Hayden and Mike Hussey who should have done better," he said.

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