Bouncers on menu for Ponting and Hughes
It won't matter whether Ricky Ponting or Phillip Hughes play against Pakistan on Boxing Day, they can both expect a barrage of short balls. Australia are waiting on Ponting's fitness after he was hit on the left elbow ducking a Kemar Roach bouncer in Perth and Chris Gayle, the West Indies captain, said they unearthed a glaring weakness in the Australian's game.
Gayle said other teams should study the way Roach operated to Ponting in dismissing him three times in the series and forcing him to retire hurt. "Our plan to bowl short at him worked really well and I think they are tactics that other Test teams can use with a lot of success against him," Gayle wrote in his Daily Telegraph column.
"Ricky is a person who will always hook and pull - those are some of his favourite shots - but they can also be his major weakness. If you have a bowler with a bit of pace I think you can give him some real trouble."
Gayle said Roach tried to hustle Ponting by bowling at his body and getting him to hook or pull. "Ricky definitely looked very uncomfortable," he said. "The plans that we came up with weren't from watching any videos of Ricky, they were just my gut instinct."
Hughes is on standby for Ponting and had his own problems with the short ball during the tour of England, which included some rough treatment from Steve Harmison in a warm-up game and Andrew Flintoff in two Tests. He has re-found form after being cut from the national squad and is hoping to get a chance to show he is ready for a long-term run in the side.
''Being dropped is a part of the sport, and I'm a big believer in that,'' Hughes said in the Sydney Morning Herald. ''That's life. What has happened has happened.
''To be in a squad now for a Boxing Day Test, it's the one as a kid you always love to watch and always want to be involved in. It's such a big thing. I've been feeling good in myself but to get the numbers on the board in this game [he scored 122 and 7 against Victoria] … I'll go to Melbourne and be ready if a chance does come up."