Ponting says No. 4 is 'a vital player'

Martyn's Test position not under threat

Cricinfo staff

October 23, 2006

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Mitchell Johnson will create plenty of talk before the Ashes, according to Ricky Ponting © Getty Images
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Ricky Ponting insists Damien Martyn is under no pressure to hold the Test spot he won back in South Africa for the Ashes. Martyn was dropped after England won the 2005 series, but he made a strong point against them with a smooth 78 that ended any chance of another defeat in the Champions Trophy game on Saturday

"In my eyes he hasn't been under any pressure whatsoever, I see him as a vital player in our team," Ponting said of his close friend in The Australian. "Coming in at No. 4 is a difficult position to bat, you need to be a certain sort of player to fit in there and we all saw how good a player Damien is, and how he can win you games."

Australia's top order is jammed with Ashes contenders, but Martyn's place has not been as contentious as the No. 6 spot, which is being fought for by Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds and Shane Watson. Martyn returned from the Test wilderness in March for the series against South Africa, showing his class with a match-winning 101 in the final Test, and his experience of high-pressure situations is one of the reasons behind Ponting's view. In Martyn's past eight one-day games he has produced three half-centuries, including 52 in the final of the Malaysian tri-series last month.

Ponting also said Mitchell Johnson's "name will come up" when the selectors talk about Australia's attack for the first Test at Brisbane on November 23. Johnson stunned Kevin Pietersen with a short ball before dismissing him on Saturday and collected 3 for 40. "I would imagine that he's going to be spoken about a lot coming into the first Test because he's come along as quickly as he has and he's fitting into international cricket really well," he said in The Courier-Mail. "Mitchell has done everything right, he's performing on the big stage and getting good players out.

"If you look at the players he's got out in the games he's played, he got Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar in Malaysia and he knocked over Pietersen here in India. They are three of the better players going around."

Johnson missed Australia's opening game against West Indies but was called up at Jaipur when Australia preferred him to Brad Hogg. "The first few games he played he was a little bit nervous and a bit tight ... he's starting to get a lot of that out of his system now," Ponting said. "He's now confident and relaxed playing at this level. He's improving every game and doing everything that he possibly can to keep his name in front of the selectors."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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