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Ashes are never far from my mind, says Ponting.

HE may not have touched a cricket bat for the best part of eight weeks, but Australia captain Ricky Ponting admits regaining the Ashes is never far from his mind.

The 35-year-old has spent his time working on his golf handicap rather than his forward-defensive since his last competitive outing against New Zealand at the end of March.

But as he prepares to lead his country into battle in five one-dayers against England next month followed by a two-Test series with Pakistan, Ponting says preparations for the Ashes series, which gets under way in November, have now officially begun.

"I can't remember ever having an eight or nine week break in my career," he said.

"The first part of it I just tried to enjoy the rest as much as I could and I've got back into a bit of physical work over the last few weeks making sure the body's going to keep up with five one-dayers in England coming up in the next couple of weeks.

"It's been a great break, we had a really busy two or three year period there ...

but it's time to get back into cricket again now.

"Everything we do now basically from now until late November when the first Ashes Test comes around will be all focused on that, so a good break for the guys and a good chance to freshen up for the guys but now it's back to business again."

While Ponting made no secret of his Ashes obsession, he insists his side will be fully focused on the upcoming series against England and Pakistan.

"It's pretty hard not to (think about winning back the Ashes every day) with a big series like this coming around when you need to redeem yourself as a playing group," he said.

"The reason I play international cricket still is for series like this. Test cricket's all about Ashes cricket and it's the pinnacle of our game, so I'll make sure that both myself and the rest of the team are in the best shape that we can be."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 4, 2010
Words:346
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