Melbourne: Having salvaged the team’s pride when everyone had written off his young and inexperienced brigade against South Africa, Ricky Ponting feels he is in a unique phase of his career as the Australian captain.

Ponting has guided his team to 2-0 unassailable lead in the three-match Test series against South Africa to secure the team’s top position in the ICC rankings.

“It’s certainly a unique phase in my career as a captain. To have a number of debutants, and a number of inexperienced guys, it’s something I haven’t been accustomed to,” he said.

“When these challenges came up and this transitional phase first started, I looked at it as being one of the most exciting little phases of my career.

“It’s even more exciting when guys like Phillip come in and fare so well right from the start. All these guys have come in, put their hands up and put their heads up under very trying circumstances. That’s what makes me proud as captain of a younger team,” he told Australian media.

Australia was playing with its most inexperienced side in 20 years in South Africa but recorded two thumping win to retain the world No. 1 ranking. Ponting, whose team was struggling since losing in a Test series in India and then at home against South Africa, admitted Aussies dominated after a long time and it was a great achievement to manage the series-clinching win over South Africa in Durban.

“To win the way we have here, against a side that no one thought we could beat, makes the achievement very special.

“World Cups are great, to win the Ashes 5-0 in 2006-07 was an amazing achievement, but this is just as good. There’d be a lot of people around the world who didn’t think this was achievable,” he said.

“This is as happy as I’ve been in my whole career as an Australian player. It’s just very satisfying. I’m very proud of this group of players, that we’ve been able to play at this level. We played some amazing Test cricket here — a level of cricket everybody outside our dressing room thought we weren’t capable of.

“That’s been the most satisfying thing for me. We played our best cricket for long periods of time. We dominated, we didn’t give an inch. This is a great achievement,” he added. Ponting said he always believed that his team could win here despite starting as the underdogs.

“I absolutely thought the team could win here. Deep down, something inside me just said we could compete against South Africa.

“You’ve always got different personalities coming into the side, but this time we’ve had five or six at once. Being on an overseas tour makes it easier. You get to know the guys, what makes them tick on and off the field. We’ve bonded over here, gotten to know each other and taken that onto the field. — PTI

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