HOBART, Australia, Nov 20 (Reuters) Ricky Ponting believes his team's 2-0 series win over Sri Lanka could be the start of another golden era for Australian cricket despite predictions their domination of the game could end following the retirements of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Justin Langer.
Australia's rivals were hoping they would struggle to maintain their test success rate after simultaneously losing three of their best players earlier this year but the results of the Sri Lankan series suggest little has changed.
Brett Lee, who has taken over from McGrath as the leader of the bowling attack, has relished his new role, capturing 16 wickets in the series, while Phil Jaques scored hundreds in each test after replacing Langer as the opener.
Only leg-spinner Stuart MacGill failed to produce his best after waiting years for the chance to replace Warne but there were some extenuating circumstances as he was battling injury.
Ponting said he was always thought Australia would make a successful transition but even he was surprised at how quickly the players had stepped up for the series.
''I was very satisfied with the way they all played in Brisbane but I didn't want to get too carried away too early,'' Ponting told a news conference on Tuesday after his team won the second test in Hobart by 96 runs.
''It was important that we came here and played well again and we've done that so I'm probably more satisfied now.
''I think the guys that played their first games up there probably had better games down here. Jaques played better here than he did in Brisbane, I think Mitchell (Johnson) bowled better here than he did in Brisbane so they're really good signs.'' Australia's latest win was their 14th consecutive test victory, just two short of the world record they set under Steve Waugh's leadership between 1999 and 2001.
They will get the chance to break the record in the home series against India, which starts in Melbourne on Dec. 26, and Ponting sees no reason why they would not go on winning.
''When you've got younger guys coming in who keep improving then that's a good sign for us,'' he said.
''We're trying to create a new environment where these younger guys can come in and feel happy and comfortable and feel they can express themselves the best way they can.
''I think we've started that ball in motion now and it's up to all of us now just to keep working on all those little areas... (and) to start the Melbourne test (against India) the same way we started the Brisbane test and hopefully we can get on top of them early and stay there.'' REUTERS tb ht1115