Ashes 2009 May 19, 2009

Ponting backs Symonds for Ashes spot

Cricinfo staff

Ricky Ponting has said he would be more than happy to have Andrew Symonds in his Ashes squad but conceded the selectors faced a hard call on whether they could squeeze him in. The touring party will be named at 11am (AEST) on Wednesday and there is no guarantee that Symonds, who was once a certainty in the starting XI, will be chosen.

His off-field issues over the past year have led to him being stood down from the side on two occasions and he has struggled to regain his best form at first-class level. That has allowed Marcus North to capably slot into the No. 6 role, while Andrew McDonald has held down the allrounder's position.

Shane Watson and Brad Hodge will also come into contention along with Symonds, who made his latest comeback for Australia in the recent one-day series against Pakistan in the UAE. Ponting said it would be no great bombshell if Symonds was named in the squad, which is likely to feature 16 players.

"I wouldn't be surprised, he has had his share of battles over the last 12 months, obviously the well documented stuff off the field," Ponting told AAP. "He's worked his way back into domestic cricket pretty well and played well for us over in Abu Dhabi, Dubai.

"He's a great guy to have around a team, there is no doubt about that. Obviously the selectors are going to have some tough decisions to make in the coming hours."

Blog with Alex Brown on the Ashes squad between 10.30am and 12.30pm (AEST) on Wednesday