Today Gower warned Alastair Cook’s men to be ready for Australian cricket’s ferocity on and off the pitch ahead of their Champions Trophy and Ashes clashes.

Far from being defensive, recently retired record-breaking Aussie leader Ricky Ponting says he’s “probably spot on”.

Gower told Radio Times that England players “have to be very, very thick-skinned, because the Aussie crowd will try you with anything”.

He added: “It’s the same with sledging on the field. There’s an animal mentality. If they sense weakness, they’ll try more.”

To this, Ponting told TNT if you want to win at the highest level you have to find and exploit weaknesses in the opposition.

“That’s team sport in general,” the recently arrived Surrey star told TNT.

“I don’t think that’s just the Australian cricket team. I think any team who’s playing sport at the highest level if they can sense a weakness somewhere in the opposition then they’ll go after it. That’s just what you do. If you’re not doing that, you don’t want to win. Simple as that.”

When Australia opens their ICC Champions Trophy campaign against England at Edgbaston on Saturday and in the Ashes matches to follow, Ponting fully expects the English side to do the same.

“At the top level you’re forever trying to find chinks in the opposition’s armour,” he said with trademark bluntness.

“That could be a technical thing or a mental thing. You’re always trying to find a way to get an edge over the opposition. So David Gower’s probably spot on.

“If England can find a chink in the Aussie boys’ armour I’m certain they’re not going to be letting that go either – they’ll be all over us.”

Ponting will be looking to add to the outstanding 192 he scored in his first appearance for Surrey at the weekend when his side take on Warwickshire in the County Championship in Guildford starting tomorrow.

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