Sri Lanka in Australia 2012-13 December 4, 2012

Contenders to replace Ricky Ponting

Over the next few days, Australia's selectors need to decide who should replace Ricky Ponting in the Test team for the series against Sri Lanka. ESPNcricinfo runs the rule over the leading candidates

Phillip Hughes, 24 (South Australia)
First-class career: 6783 runs at 45.52, 20 centuries
Sheffield Shield 2012-13: 518 runs at 51.80, 1 century

The man most likely to win a call-up, Hughes has form, Test experience and youth on his side. He has already shown that he can score runs at Test level - three centuries in his 17 Tests - but the jump up in class also exposed some of batting flaws. Last summer, he could not stop edging catches to the cordon when the fast men angled the ball across him and having been dropped from the Test side a couple of times already, if he wins a third chance he will need to provide more consistency. But the sheer volume of runs Hughes has scored - 20 first-class hundreds at the age of 24 is a remarkable tally - cannot be ignored, and he would be capable of slotting in at No.3. "I have probably been the most consistent player in Shield and one-day cricket this season," Hughes said on Tuesday. "And I know if I did get the nod, I would be very confident. I feel like I'm a lot better player than 12 months ago. I have worked on one thing ... but I'm not going to go into it. It has improved my game all around the park, I'm scoring in different areas and I feel like when the bowlers are bowling straighter, I can play my leg side shots a lot better than I did 12 months ago."

Usman Khawaja, 25 (Queensland)
First-class career: 4045 runs at 43.03, 11 centuries
Sheffield Shield 2012-13: 438 runs at 39.81, 1 century

Like Hughes, Khawaja has had a taste of Test cricket, and like Hughes he is expected to return to the outfit at some point. Also like Hughes, Khawaja moved from New South Wales during the off-season in a bid to reboot his career - Hughes moved to Adelaide, Khawaja to Brisbane. His 138 against Tasmania on a Bellerive Oval pitch that was a minefield for every other batsman was the standout innings of the Sheffield Shield so far this season, and he has another chance to impress the selectors when he captains the CA Chairman's XI against the Sri Lankans later this week. But aside from that one century, Khawaja's problem recently has been a struggle to turn his starts into triple figures. During his 2012 county season for Derbyshire and his Shield campaign this summer he has passed fifty 11 times, but only twice has gone on to score a century. All the same, Khawaja looks a long-term Test prospect and would add some steadiness to a top four that will feature two dashers, David Warner and Shane Watson.

Alex Doolan, 27 (Tasmania)
First-class career: 2311 runs at 39.16, 5 centuries
Sheffield Shield 2012-13: 409 runs at 58.42, 1 century

At the start of the season, few people would have expected Doolan to figure in discussions for the Test team. But his unbeaten 161 for Australia A against the South Africans in Sydney catapulted him into contention, and although he lost out to Quiney ahead of the Gabba Test, he will no doubt be talked about at meetings of John Inverarity's selection panel. A composed batsman with a sound technique, Doolan is enjoying his breakout season and a Test call-up would be more likely further down the track, if he continues to pile up the runs for Tasmania. Like Ponting, Doolan is from Launceston and his state captain George Bailey was impressed when Ponting and Doolan batted together earlier in the season against a powerful Victoria attack. "When those two were going together he didn't look outclassed; when I was batting with Ricky it felt like we were playing two different sports, but Dools and he were just on another level," Bailey said last month. "He is a classical player - quite beautiful to watch actually. It has been said a few times he looks a bit like Martin Love."

Rob Quiney, 30 (Victoria)
First-class career: 3101 runs at 36.48, 7 centuries
Sheffield Shield 2012-13: 68 runs at 22.66, 0 centuries

If the first-out, first-in argument was applied, Quiney would be the logical man to replace Ponting, having played in the first two Tests against South Africa. But his failures in those matches, particularly his pair in Adelaide, where he edged behind the wicket in both innings on a pitch that other batsmen adored, must have dropped him a few places down in the pecking order. The Australians liked his presence around the team and he offered some real dynamism in the field, but the likelihood is that if he is to earn another chance at Test cricket it will need to come through big runs at Shield level when the first-class season resumes after the Big Bash League.

Callum Ferguson, 28 (South Australia)
First-class career: 4295 runs at 36.09, 8 centuries
Sheffield Shield 2012-13: 463 runs at 42.09, 1 century

A serious knee injury suffered during the 2009 Champions Trophy final came at just the wrong time for Ferguson, who was establishing himself in the ODI side and showing the selectors the kind of technique that could work at Test level. He missed the entire 2009-10 summer due to the injury and had battled to regain his best form, until this season. Ferguson is second on the Shield run tally behind Hughes this summer, and is beginning to show the kind of consistency the selectors wanted from him. A call-up now is unlikely, but a big end to the summer will place him firmly back in the frame for Australia's tours of India and England.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Anupam on December 7, 2012, 14:24 GMT

    @kunal saxena if you close look at the kallis form and his fitness no one even thought of his retirement for upcoming 3-5 yrs. you see only 3000 runs SRT is looking at his form, fitness & 3-5 more years. man he bats in ODI & T20 too. and a 4th pacer of african deadly barrage. only 7 centuries behind and look at the match difference 34 & innining is 50. multiply 34 and the avg 56.92 it gets 2000 runs + 3-5 yrs of more cric. kallis is the greatest cricketer in the world.

  • Dummy4 on December 7, 2012, 9:32 GMT

    @ AKS286 dude Kallis is 37 and abt 3000+ runs away unlikey that he will reach there . i think sachins record will stay set for quite some time to come . As a player ( Kallis being an allrounder) he can be even better(in terms of asset to the team) . but as a batsmen no ways , the only other batsmen that can be up with sachin are lara , and richards.

  • Anupam on December 6, 2012, 18:12 GMT

    SRT is waiting for kallis, bcoz kallis is the only threat to his records. after kallis SRT will..

  • Dummy4 on December 5, 2012, 20:32 GMT

    Joe Burns is on the up, keep his momentum going.

  • Sriram on December 5, 2012, 14:45 GMT

    Thankfully in India, we won't be asking 'Who after SRT?' yet. Did you see his 76 today, i'm guessing another 100 Tests (provided India play that many). though Good Luck Aussies!!

  • Anupam on December 5, 2012, 13:12 GMT

    the whole world knows that Haddin is beter than wade. but haddin is the victim of clarke's senior axing policy some examples are katich, hauritz, haddin, ponting. adam voges is the perfect man to fill that spot not only in test but as well as in odi. warner is not suitable for test cricket. test- cowan, hughes, watson, clarke, voges, hussey, haddin, MJ, pattinson, beer, siddle/Hilfy.

  • Allan on December 5, 2012, 11:22 GMT

    @Othello22 is correct,Khawaja is the right choice, give Hughes more time to avoid the NZ failure again. elle19 makes a good case too. You can't just look purely at the stats and say Hughes over Khawaja. I'm a fan of Hughes and think he will get it right (he may need a bit more time, not sure), at the moment and given his performance on bowler friendly wickets I think that Khawaja should get the nod for the number 3 spot.

  • Dummy4 on December 5, 2012, 11:05 GMT

    It is a massive hole for selectors to fill. I would go with Fergusson or Shaun Marsh. both are highly talented for this level. Selectors dont have to make Fergusson wait more, it has already been 3 years since he is out of the side. Where is Paine? Mathew wade is not too bad, but Tim's much better keeper-batsman than Wade is. this will be my Eleven against SL: Watson, Warner, Fergusson, clark, Hussey, Marsh, Paine, Johnson, Starc, Siddle and lyon.

  • Andrew on December 5, 2012, 9:49 GMT

    @Wefinishthis on (December 05 2012, 04:54 AM GMT) - Burns has suffered a bit by being yo-yo'd up & down the order - the same with Neville. I would of liked Neville to play against the Lankans in the tour match instead of Whiteman. As far as our KP is concerned, he can't get into the NSW team atm (despite NSW batting looking shakey atm), he is one to keep an eye on though!

  • Ross on December 5, 2012, 8:30 GMT

    @Moppa is on the ball. The number three heading into Sri Lanka, India the back to back must be Khawaja. He is fantastic in bowler friendly conditions, as must be given a chance to really settle into the side b4 the ashes start. He will be a long term number 3 like amla, just needs a good go at it and has done well on difficlut pitches. Khawaja has played on at least 4 green tops this year including a game where he scored 1 and a half times the entire opposition in one inngs, whereas Adelaide is the best place to bat in the country and so we must.think outside of figures.Must be Khwaaja for 3.

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