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Should Ricky Ponting play in the Boxing Day Test versus India?

Last updated on: December 20, 2011 16:14 IST

Embattled Ponting wins support of coach Arthur, fans

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Ricky Ponting faces an uncertain international future if he fails to score runs, regardless of the former captain's standing in the game, says Australia coach Mickey Arthur.

However, his fans have backed him to come good in the forthcoming series against India.

- McGrath puts his weight behind Ponting

Australia play the first match of a four-Test series against India in Melbourne on December 26 and the debate over the out-of-form batsman's place has polarised the nation.

Many former players and pundits have demanded that the 37-year-old step down or be pensioned off, while others have cited Ponting's imperious record as reason enough to allow him to decide the manner of his own exit.

South African Arthur said Ponting, the ga me's most successful captain and third most prolific run-scorer in Tests, cannot not rest on his reputation or value as a mentor to Australia's next generation.

"I don't think anyone's guaranteed a start," Arthur said, at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Tuesday, when asked if Ponting would be retained for the Boxing Day Test.


Image: Ricky Ponting


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'Ponting, Hussey need to give us performances'

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"Ricky Ponting is really vital to where we want to take this team. We are really hoping that he finds his form and, hopefully, that form is just around the corner.

"I've backed Ricky Ponting in, like I've backed Mike Hussey in, for a period of time because I think they're crucial to the development of the side.

"For our young batters, to bat with guys like that is fantastic, but, again, they need to keep giving us ammunition; they need to keep giving us performances.

"Nobody's guaranteed a start; nobody's got a privilege to play in the Australian cricket team. They've got to be producing the goods and giving us ammunition to play."

Arthur, a member of Australia's five-man selection panel along with captain Michael Clarke, will meet with the other selectors later on Tuesday to decide Ponting's immediate fate.

Image: Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey


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Boot camp for Ponting, Clarke

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Ponting has scored two half-centuries in his past four innings, but appeared badly out of touch as he scored a total of 21 runs in the second Test loss against New Zealand in Hobart earlier this month.

The Tasmanian is nonetheless expected to be retained for the first India Test given the simultaneous failures of most of his batting colleagues and injury clouds hanging over others.

Australia launched a three-day batting boot camp in Melbourne on Tuesday for Ponting, Clarke, Hussey, all-rounders Shane Watson and Dan Christian, and wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, hoping to avoid another stunning collapse against India that cost them certain victory in Hobart and brought defeat in Cape Town against South Africa last month.

Arthur said all batsmen had been given frank notes about where they had been deficient.


Image: Ricky Ponting


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'We just want to see Ricky accessing the ball a little bit'

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"I think we just want to see Ricky accessing the ball a little bit and part of this preparation the next couple of days is just to free him up," he added.

Watson, who was ruled out of the two-Test New Zealand series, is expected to be fit to slot back into the batting lineup for the Boxing Day Test, but may not bowl as he recovers from a hamstring injury.

Batsman Shaun Marsh will struggle to play a part after being out of competitive cricket for six weeks with a back injury, Arthur said, potentially opening the door for the untried Ed Cowan in place of opener Phil Hughes, who is expected to be dropped.


Image: Ricky Ponting


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Aus set to go in with youth-led attack

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Australia also appear set to retain the youth-led attack that bowled admirably in the Test series against New Zealand, with 32-year-old paceman Ryan Harris no certainty to come into consideration.

Harris, who suffered a hip injury during the South Africa tour, will return to competitive cricket with a domestic Twenty20 fixture later on Tuesday.

"He's got to prove to us that he would be able to play on Boxing Day and give us 40 overs over a Test match which is quite a big ask at the moment," he said.

Image: James Pattinson


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Fans back Ponting

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Ponting's fans have also backed the former Australia captain to shine in the Tests against India.

Ponting has won the support of fans who voted online at foxsports.com.au with the majority urging him to play in the India Test series.

Just over 35 percent of the voters said Ponting should take on India and see how he performs while a further 21.28 percent said he deserved the right to retire when he wants to.

Only 26 percent of respondents said Ponting ought to retire immediately while 17.28 percent said the selectors should axe him now.

Ponting's future has been a hot topic among fans, experts and former cricketers for some time.

His long-time Australia teammate, spin legend Shane Warne said the constant speculation over Ponting's future could impact the team's performance.

Image: Ricky Ponting


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'Ponting will leave when he feels he is embarrassing himself'

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Former Australia leg-spinner Stuart MacGill said Ponting would be in his Test XI for Melbourne.

"He's been one of the best batsmen Australia's ever seen, bar none, for me. (It's) Bradman and Ricky Ponting, I have no hesitation in saying that," MacGill told Inside Cricket.

"He's obviously struggling big time at the moment but whilst the rest of the top six are having problems, he's got to stay. Ricky Ponting will leave when he feels he is embarrassing himself or his teammates."

MacGill suggested sliding Shane Watson down the order upon his return from injury, promoting Usman Khawaja to open, and expressed his desire to see Hussey quit.

"I'm actually going to be saying thank you very much Michael Hussey," MacGill said.

"If you need an extra bowler then maybe that's where Daniel Christian gets a look."


Image: Ricky Ponting


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'End is nigh for Ricky'

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Leading cricket scribe Robert Craddock said Australia's selectors -- or Ponting himself -- have a tough call to make.

"In his last seven series only once has he averaged more than 33," Craddock said.

"For a 37-year-old that warrants (chairman of selectors) John Inverarity a chat with Ricky about his future. The end really is nigh."


Image: Ricky Ponting


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