Ponting: The pressure is on SA

Ricky Ponting believes the pressure of being favourites and the pursuit of the No 1 Test ranking could prove to be the Proteas’ downfall in the upcoming Test series.

Ponting was in a positive mood at a press conference in Sydney on Monday ahead of Australia’s departure for South Africa.

He claimed a victory in the three-match series would help establish a new, competitive identity for a team that has recently been hit by retirements and injuries.

“You wouldn’t have to be Einstein to work out that they’re going to be favourites,”said Ponting. “If we get off to a great start over there with them being favourites, and with a lot of expectation from their people and their crowds, then who knows – things could turn against them pretty quickly.

“There won’t be any added pressure on us, but maybe on South Africa. They’ve been striving for a long time to be recognised as being the No 1 Test team in the world, so maybe that will weigh on their minds more than ours.”

Ponting emphasised the importance of the Test series by claiming a series victory in South Africa would rank above anything he had previously achieved in his 128-Test career.

“I’m ultra excited about the challenge of playing against the No 2 ranked Test team in the world for three Tests on their soil,” said Ponting. “It’s the reason you play the game.

“I’ve been around a long time and played a lot of games but this will be as big a series for me as any I’ve played in. This would be a huge win for us, there’s no doubt about that.

“Coming back from the Ashes in 2005 having lost over there and steeling ourselves for the Ashes in Australia was one of the biggest moments in my career. This one is certainly going to rank up there alongside that. A series like this could certainly be the making of the team. If we go there and play well and happen to win the series, then everything that’s happened over the last few months will hopefully be forgotten about.”