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January 7, 2010
Ricky Ponting is not blaming his elbow injury for a poor run of form that is threatening his worst home summer in 11 years. Ponting was forced to retire hurt in Perth last month when struck on the left arm by Kemar Roach and has since been susceptible to the short ball during a return of 216 runs at 27 in five Tests.
Despite considerable pain, Ponting cleared himself to play in Melbourne and felt improvement in Sydney, where his side stormed back from a 206-run first-innings deficit to defeat Pakistan by 36 runs. "I've been a bit restricted in the last couple of games," Ponting said. "There's no doubt about that. But I'm not going to use that as an excuse for why I haven't scored as many runs as I would have liked."
Since being struck by Roach, Ponting has added 2, 57, 12, 0 and 11, including being dismissed three times to short deliveries. Not since 1998-99, when he was cut after 47 runs against England in three Tests, has Ponting's output in an Australian summer been so small. He fell pulling to his first ball on the opening day in Sydney after deciding to bat - Australia slipped for 127 - and was out edging in the second innings.
"I've had a poor game and I've had a poor six or eight games," Ponting said. "So I've got to go to Hobart [for Thursday's final Test] and I've got to prepare well and I've got to start making some runs."
Ponting's last century came in the Ashes opener in Cardiff in July and he finished 2009 with an average of 38.77, 16 runs below his career mark. He is now 35 and has started to look his age when he has batted, particularly when hampered by the elbow injury.
"I was probably in the most pain in the first innings of the Melbourne game," he said. "But that was the highest score that I've made in the four innings that I've had in the first two Tests. I put my hand up and said I'm right to play and I've got to get out there and make runs. That's my job."
Australia were saved by the second-innings contributions of Shane Watson, Michael Hussey, Peter Siddle and Nathan Hauritz as they swept to a 2-0 series win. The victory allowed the hosts to gain revenge after falling so quickly on the opening day and they celebrated a third spectacular success at the ground in consecutive years.
"We've been stretched to do it," Ponting said. "But the character that has been shown over the last couple of days of this game is terrific and I'm really proud of the guys for doing what they've done."
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