Reluctant Ponting follows rest orders
Ricky Ponting has bowed to long-term interests by taking a mid-series break despite wanting to stay on and lead his team through its current slump. Australia's selectors have rested Ponting for the next two fixtures with New Zealand even though his side is behind after losing the first match of the Chappell-Hadlee Series in Perth on Sunday.
Ponting said it was "painful" to leave the current situation. "There is never a good time to be rested from the Australian side and I accept that this certainly is not a good time," Ponting told the Australian. "The selection panel were determined to rest me no matter what. There had been suggestions I have a break earlier, but I did not think there was ever an appropriate opportunity and I am not sure there ever will be a good time to do it."
Australia have suffered Test and ODI defeats to South Africa, which followed the Test loss in India, but Ponting maintains committed to leading the team through the transition. "But I can see that the long-term interests of my health and the team are best served if I am fit and rested before embarking on another long year of cricket," he said. "I will leave the side reluctantly but hopefully return refreshed and more determined than ever to rebuild our reputation and lead the team to the best of my abilities."
Callum Ferguson, the South Australia batsman, and Adam Voges, from Western Australia, have come in to the 13-man squad for the matches in Melbourne on Friday and Sydney on Sunday. Shaun Marsh, the opener, is injured after tearing his left hamstring in Perth.
Phillip Hughes and Simon Katich were both overlooked despite being in outstanding touch for New South Wales. Both batsmen scored centuries in the win over Tasmania in Newcastle and were part of the squad that won the domestic Twenty20 tournament.
"You couldn't ask for better form," Katich said of Hughes in the Daily Telegraph. "Phil's form in the Twenty20 was outstanding, he got runs and got them quickly. He's probably disappointed to have missed out but at the end of the day he's in contention for the South African tour and hopefully he gets the thumbs up." The selectors will meet on Wednesday to choose Matthew Hayden's replacement.