Ponting questions England seniors

Australia

Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has questioned the bench strength of England's squad – amid the genuine threat of an Ashes series whitewash.

Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has questioned the bench strength of England's squad – amid the genuine threat of an Ashes series whitewash.

The English, largely dominant en route to a three-nil series victory over the Australians in the United Kingdom earlier this year, have since slipped to the reverse result in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth this month.

Meanwhile, spinner Graeme Swann, captain Alastair Cook, batsman Kevin Pietersen and wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior have endured particularly poor stretches of form.

"England are a team past their peak, while the Australians are only going to get better," Ponting told the <i>Daily Mail</i>.

"We saw it in the first Ashes series, when Pietersen only really played one significant innings, and Cook and Prior struggled with the bat. Those trends have continued out here.

"I do think it's hard to be dominant for a long time – unless your team contains several all-time legends. England have been a good side for a while, and some of their players have excellent records. But at some point, that was going to come to a halt.

"England now have to take a look at their senior players and decide how many years they have left in them. If they think they can still get two years out of them, then they have to nurture them through that period.

The visitors have blooded all-rounder Ben Stokes, who welcomed a maiden Test century in Perth, but the uncapped Gary Ballance and Boyd Rankin and the inexperienced Jonny Bairstow remain unused during this tour.

"They should cut them adrift and give the new guys a go. The question is, is there anyone coming through right now? There's a lot of cricket still to play, but I know the guys will be hungry for five-nil. And it's going to take a huge effort from the English to stop them," concluded Ponting.

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