Australia v West Indies, 3rd Test, Perth, 3rd day December 18, 2009

Ponting in doubt for Boxing Day

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Ricky Ponting could miss his first Test in five years after Australia's physio confirmed Ponting's elbow injury has left him in doubt for the Boxing Day Test against Pakistan. Ponting was struck just above the left elbow by a delivery from Kemar Roach in the first innings at the WACA and scans revealed a tendon injury, although there was no bone damage.

The Australians did not want Ponting to bat in the second innings, to give him extra recovery time, but when they stumbled to 7 for 125 he came to the crease. However, Ponting had not taken any painkillers and was clearly hampered by the problem, and he survived for only six balls before fending a short delivery to bat-pad.

Although he did not make the injury worse during his second innings, Ponting is still no certainty to play at the MCG in eight days. The team physio Alex Kountouris said Ponting was better on Friday than he was the previous day but he remained a day-by-day proposition for the time being.

"He is in doubt for Melbourne," Kountouris said. "His arm has been quite sore. We were really worrying about this game first, which was why we were trying to avoid him batting today and see if we can get him to recover a little bit more and see how he pulls up tomorrow. He's better today than he was yesterday, which is a good thing, but we're not sure how he's going to go by Melbourne."

Ponting batted on for 40 minutes in the first innings after taking the blow, before he retired hurt. He later said that he could have stayed at the crease but "wouldn't have been able to hit the ball off the square", and he didn't look much better in the second innings.

Kountouris said the injury was unusual but Damien Martyn had once missed a Test due to a similar problem. Although the injury could potentially turn into a long-term issue for Ponting, Kountouris was not expecting that to be the case.

"It can be, of course, it's in the tendon so that's a possibility but I don't think that's going to happen," he said. "I think it will settle down with time.

"It's almost like when you get meat and bash it with a mallet to soften it down. That's what's happened, the fibres have been squashed and have been disrupted in the tendon so now every time he uses that muscle, he can get little tearing of the muscle fibres."

Ponting has not missed a Test since October 2004, when he was ruled out due to injury from the first three Tests on the tour of India and Adam Gilchrist stepped in as captain. As the vice-captain, Michael Clarke would be the man in line to take over should Ponting not recover for Boxing Day.

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo