West Indies in Australia 2009-10 November 11, 2009

Hussey gains strong support from Ponting

Cricinfo staff

Ricky Ponting would prefer an in-form Michael Hussey to hold his place rather than Phillip Hughes taking his spot for the first Test against West Indies. Hughes, who was dropped during the Ashes series, is being pushed strongly for the opening game at the Gabba on November 26 and both Allan Border and Dean Jones believe Hussey is the vulnerable one in Australia's top six.

However, Ponting remains a big supporter of Hussey, who has shown strong form during the India one-day series. "Not if he's playing well enough, no," Ponting told AAP when asked if Hussey should make way for Hughes. "That's the decision that everyone's going to have to make. If he's playing well he's one of those blokes who's valuable to any team.

"The thing is he's been a great player. He probably hasn't scored as many as he would have liked in his last couple of Test series but all that other stuff he brings is pretty vital to the team."

Hussey, 34, registered a hundred in his last game at The Oval to end a 16-Test streak without a century, but the selectors have already indicated they want Hughes back in the side as soon as he is in top form. Shane Watson filled in as an opener in England when Hughes was dropped and is expected to head to the middle order when a spot becomes available.

In India Hussey has been a key figure, scoring 313 runs at 104.33 in the opening six games, and Ponting said he was at his peak. "One thing I know about him is, in the last few weeks especially, he's playing as well as I've seen him play for a long time," Ponting said. "He's the leading run-scorer in this one-day series, and looking back to his last Test he made a hundred in his last innings.

"Mike's doing everything that he can. It's been a long, hard road for him ... he's probably played more cricket that anybody else in this current group, so for him to have maintained his high standards through this series [has been great considering] how tired he's been."

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