Australia capped off a perfect summer of Test cricket with a 176-run win over New Zealand and the captain Ricky Ponting feels his side are now ready to reclaim the Ashes. The Australians arrived in New Zealand after clean-sweeping Pakistan and then West Indies in Tests and soon added another series win after two solid victories over the Kiwis. The next big mission on Australia's calendar is the coveted Ashes series in November and they will be desperate for revenge after England took the honours last year. "I don't think we could be in a better place," he said following the win over the Black Caps in Hamilton. "There will be no excuses from us because we've done everything that I would have liked to achieve this summer and we've done it well. There were probably some question marks over our Test cricket before the summer about being inconsistent through the Ashes series."
Ponting paid special tribute to Mitchell Johnson after the win in Hamilton. The workhorse left-arm quick claimed 10 wickets to end what has been a tumultuous two years of cricket. Johnson, who has been the go-to man for Australia over the last couple of years, consistently bowled around 150kph and was far too good for the Kiwi batsmen. Ponting labelled the New Zealand tour as the best he has ever seen Johnson bowl. "He shouldered a massive workload as well," said Ponting. "We tried to give him a rest here and there to keep him fresh but it says a lot about his physical condition and what great shape he's in. To be able to bowl as quick as he did after two years of non-stop cricket says a lot about him." His counterpart Daniel Vettori blamed the series defeat on not being consistent enough and failing to take key opportunities when they arose.
After an outstanding first day with the ball in Hamilton, the home side failed to match it with the bat. "We played really well at times, but to beat Australia you have to perform over five days," he said. "Whether it's with the bat or the ball, it's how you seize those moments. And looking back on that first innings, to only get a 40-run lead was disappointing." Although Australia managed to win both the Chappell-Hadlee one-day international series and the recent Test series, Vettori felt New Zealand had had a reasonably successful summer. After success at the Champions Trophy in South Africa, and back-to-back series wins over Pakistan and Bangladesh, Vettori said there were still plenty of positives to be taken from the summer. "Losing two Test matches is tough but we'll try to look at everything in isolation," he said. * PA Sport
Australia 231 & 511-8 decl. New Zealand 264 & (overnight 182-5): Watling c Haddin b M Johnson 24 McIntosh b M Johnson 19 Sinclair lbw b M Clarke 29 Taylor c Haddin b M Johnson 22 Guptill c Ponting b M Johnson 58 Vettori lbw b Hauritz 22 B McCullum c M Hussey b Bollinger 51 Patel c North b Bollinger 3 Southee c M Clarke b M Johnson 45 Arnel c Haddin b M Johnson 0 C Martin not out 5 Extras (2nb, 12b, 10lb) 24 Total (all out, 91.1 overs) 301 Bowling: Bollinger 16-2-87-2 Harris 14-3-38-0 S Watson 6-2-18-0 M Johnson 20.1-6-73-6 M Clarke 16-4-27-1 Hauritz 17-5-37-1 North 2-2-0-0