Ponting looks ahead to White debut
Australia expect to field an energetic, hometown legspinner for the first match of the Super Series in Melbourne on Wednesday, but fans sensing the one-day return of Shane Warne will be slightly disappointed. Ricky Ponting confirmed that Cameron White, the Victoria captain, would make his international debut after being rustled up when Brad Hogg was ruled out with a knee injury on Monday.
Shaun Pollock, the World XI captain, immediately welcomed White, who took two wickets in a warm-up match against them on Sunday, by saying that his batsmen would target him. The threat did not concern Ponting, who is pleased to be getting a look at a young bowler he has heard much about.
"It seems as though he handled things pretty well in the Victoria game against them," Ponting said. "This is a different stage and I'm sure he'll be a bit nervous, but he had a very good tour in Pakistan [for Australia A]."
White is the only new face in the Australian XII after Stuart Clark, who was called up for Shaun Tait, and James Hopes, a one-game international after making his debut in New Zealand, were omitted from the squad. Ponting will name the side's Supersub before the toss but predicted that White would bowl. "I'm just looking forward to getting to see him play," he said. "He's been in and around the Australian set-up and spoken about for a while. Now he gets his opportunity."
Simon Katich would partner Adam Gilchrist at the top of the order and Ponting said that the series was important for the fringe players to start showing their worth as the 2007 World Cup approached. "There's an opportunity there for guys like Katich, Clark, Hopes and White to play some cricket," he said, "and for us to get a look at just how good they are."
While Gilchrist has questioned the status of the Super Series as official Test and one-day internationals, Ponting was satisfied with the decision because of the on-field quality. "I believe they should have official status," he said. "You've got the best players from all over the world to play this game so they should have official status."
Following the Ashes loss, Ponting has sensed a shift in supporters' attitudes and felt that they expected Australia to slip up again. However, Ponting was quick to speak about the team's success over England in the three-game NatWest Challenge and said that the one-day side's confidence was not dented.
"There's probably some more expectation on the World because they're probably expected to win," he said. "Everyone is probably expecting us to lose this series as well. It's not the way I'm looking at it and it's not the way our guys are looking at it. We know we'll be ultra-competitive in this series if we play the way we can play."
Peter English is the Australasian editor of Cricinfo