ALEX Doolan attributes his instant success at first-drop for Australia to the man who made that position his own.
The 28-year-old, who contributed innings of 27 and 89 in Australia's 281-run first Test win over South Africa, said his time batting with former Australian captain Ricky Ponting during Tasmania's successful Sheffield Shield campaign last season had given him a ``taste'' for the runs.
The duo shared partnerships of 123, 142 and 151 and at one stage averaged 82.5 together in 2012-13.
Asked what he learned from Ponting, Doolan said: ``A lot of things, just by watching him play.
``His hunger was just hard to describe, as he wanted to go out and score a hundred, a big hundred.
``Plenty of times getting out after passing 100, he was extremely disappointed, so learning what it takes to score those runs and be so desperate to score runs time and time again was the thing I learnt the most from him.''
As the Australians prepare for tomorrow's second Test in Port Elizabeth, Doolan also admitted his preparation had become more professional.
``I know my game a lot better than I used to. I certainly didn't have too many clues about how to prepare my game, as I just followed the crowd in a lot of ways.
``Now it is all quite specific. I get what I need out of the nets and facing bowlers. If I'm feeling comfortable, it might be a short batting stint or if I'm feeling uncomfortable, it might take a little longer.''
Despite the comprehensive nature of the win at Centurion, highlighted by Mitchell Johnson's 12-wicket haul, Doolan believed there was still plenty of improvement left in the Australians.
``We just need to keep getting better.
``That's our mantra and has been I believe since Boof [Darren Lehmann] took over, so we'll be back into the nets and we'll be trying to get better than what we were in [the first] Test.
``We played very well and ticked a lot of boxes when it comes to our KPIs, but it wasn't the perfect game by any stretch.''
Doolan's thoughts came a day after both coach Lehmann and captain Michael Clarke heaped praise on Australia's new No. 3.