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England need to drop struggling stars - Ponting

ESPN staff
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Pietersen is one senior player struggling with the bat © Getty Images
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Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting believes England must make tough decisions and drop some of their struggling stars or risk losing 5-0 in the Ashes.

Ponting, who led Australia to a whitewash victory in the 2006/07 Ashes in Australia, wrote in his column for the Daily Mail that he believes England have lost the edge which propelled them to the number one ranking in Test cricket in 2011.

While Australia have been brilliant with bat and ball, England's most notable struggles have come from senior players such as Matt Prior, Graeme Swann, Kevin Pietersen and captain Alistair Cook.

Ponting was part of the great Australian side which dominated all forms of cricket in the late 1990s and early 2000s but does not feel England have the ability to replicate that kind of success with their current crop of players.

"England are a team past their peak, while the Australians are only going to get better," he said.

"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.

"If not, they should cut them adrift and give the new guys a go. The question is, is there anyone coming through right now?"

And even though England won the summer series 3-0, Ponting believes the signs were there that England were in desperate need of changing their formula ahead of the trip Down Under.

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

"There's a lot of cricket still to play, but I know the [Australian] guys will be hungry for 5-0. And it's going to take a huge effort from the English to stop them."

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