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Cook slump key for Australia - Ponting

ESPN staff
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Ponting's first-class career came to a close this summer for Surrey © Getty Images
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Ricky Ponting believes a key factor to Australia's lightning start in the Ashes series has been how they have got into the head of England captain Alistair Cook.

Ponting captained Australia's Test team between 2004 and 2011 - a spell which included a three Ashes defeats - and knows first-hand the pressures of leading his nation through the biggest series in cricket.

Australia have won back-to-back Tests at Brisbane and Adelaide and look a completely different side to the one which suffered a 3-0 series defeat in England this summer.

Cook has failed to recreate the form he showed at the last Ashes Down Under in both the series between the sides this year, and Ponting knows from his own experience that the England's captain's slump could be having a negative effect on his decision-making.

"One thing we always used to talk about was nailing the opposition captain. If you look at the last two series, Cook hasn't been able to get away from them at all," Ponting told the Daily Mail

"They've made life really difficult for him - and if you can take his batting away, it makes captaincy a whole lot harder as well.

"Being captain is easy when you're flying as a player - when you have to start thinking and worrying about your own game, that has an effect. Towards the end of my career, when I wasn't playing so well, I know I used to spend a lot more time in the field thinking about my batting.

"That's human nature. In Australia's team meeting they will talk about targeting Cook again, and, whenever they get the chance, taking him down.

"I think he is a bit shaken at the moment. I think he's rattled, he's not used to this and he's getting no relief from the Aussie bowlers."

Though Mitchell Johnson has drawn the plaudits in the series so far, Ponting believes all the Australian bowlers are turning heads in the way they have approached the England batting attack.

"You've got to give credit to Australia because a lot of the time they have bowled to the strengths of the English batsmen and just packed the field to deal with those strengths.

"They've taken Kevin Pietersen at short mid-wicket, they've got Michael Carberry out pulling. This isn't what was expected.

"On this tour, though, they have been under so much pressure that they've forgotten their limitations, and are playing an uncontrolled game. The shots are those of a team under siege, with the bigger and better players struggling and making it harder for the younger blokes.

"When you've had a few failures in a row it makes it tougher to play your natural game."

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