Ponting to miss first ODI against Sri Lanka
Ricky Ponting will miss Australia's first one-day international against Sri Lanka in Melbourne on Wednesday after the death of his grandmother in Tasmania. Michael Clarke will captain the side in the first of this week's three ODIs but Ponting will be available for the second match at the SCG on Friday.
"I won't be playing tomorrow's game," Ponting said at the MCG on Tuesday. "My grandmother down in Launceston has passed away on the weekend. The funeral is down in Launceston tomorrow. I'll be flying out tomorrow morning to attend the funeral and then flying straight back to the ground tomorrow afternoon."
Ponting sat out of Australia's recent one-dayers in India and has not played an ODI since the series against England finished in July. Last time Clarke captained Australia in a home ODI, he made 98 opening the batting in a loss to New Zealand at the MCG.
The Australians have not confirmed a starting line-up for the first ODI after their training session on Tuesday was interrupted by rain. However, the Tasmanian spinner Xavier Doherty is set to make his international debut, a week after taking a five-wicket haul in the Sheffield Shield on the same ground.
"There's no doubt that he's been probably the best-performed spinner in Australia in the shorter forms of the game for the last few years now," Ponting said of his state team-mate Doherty. "He's become a match-winner for Tassie in that period of time. He's someone that I do know quite well.
"He's a boy from Launceston, the same as me, and it's great reward for someone like him having put in the hard yards for a long time, to finally get an opportunity to play. With Hauritz being away and having played that Shield game, Hauritz won't play the game tomorrow, so Doherty will play if the weather is not too inclement for the spinners."
Australia have regained several first-choice players including Mitchell Johnson and Michael Hussey, who sat out of Sunday's Twenty20 loss at the WACA. The hosts are aiming to turn around their losing streak across all formats, having not won an international match since the Lord's Test against Pakistan in July.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at Cricinfo