BRISBANE // The Australia captain Ricky Ponting was happy to claim his first Test win in over five months, but called on his batsmen to lift their game in the wake of a 149-run victory over New Zealand. The Australians were on top for the duration of the first Test at the Gabba, but had a number of shaky sessions with the willow.
Bold knocks from Michael Clarke (98 in the first innings) and Simon Katich (an unbeaten 131 in the second) propped up the home side's modest totals of 214 and 268. Ponting suggested his side would not be getting carried away with the win, saying: "I think we were a fair way off playing our best cricket, both teams struggled with the bat on that wicket. "[But] after halfway through the second day, it probably wasn't a bad surface to bat on at all.
"I thought we bowled very well, we fielded well, but our batting wasn't great." Ponting was confident his side would improve ahead of the second and final Test against the Black Caps in Adelaide on Friday. "We've done what we needed to do, we had a number of outstanding individual performances in the game, but at the moment we're just lacking that real consistency through the group that we need to play our best cricket," he said. "We head to Adelaide, probably on a better batting surface, hopefully the guys who got starts here can go on and get big scores."
Ponting was impressed with the efforts of man-of-the-match Mitchell Johnson, 27, suggesting the 'sky is the limit' for him after he claimed his maiden five-wicket haul in the second innings. "The thing I like about him is that he's continually working on things," Ponting said. "He's done as well as any of our bowlers over the last 12 or 18 months, but he's the first one to go and have a look at video footage and work on things. He's always trying to find ways to improve."
The Black Caps skipper Daniel Vettori saw the loss at as a key step in a revolution of New Zealand cricket. The visitors brought an inexperienced line-up into the opening Test and Vettori had talked pre-match about how his raw charges must find runs during the series - something they struggled to do in Brisbane. "I still look at the guys and think they're extremely talented, but we've got to turn that talent into a consistent performance and unfortunately we're just not quite getting that," Vettori said.
Meanwhile, Australia experiment of playing two all-rounders proved short-lived as Shane Watson was dropped from the squad for the second Test. Peter Siddle replaced Watson after the Queenslander could only manage scores of one and five and match figures of 2-54 during the first Test. The change also confirmed that Andrew Symonds was now back in favour. * PA Sport