Ponting fracture confirmed by X-rays
Australia's charge towards a series-levelling victory has been upset by Ricky Ponting suffering a broken finger that will leave him fighting for fitness for the remainder of the campaign. The team physio, Alex Kountouris, said that X-rays had confirmed a small fracture of Ponting's left little finger.
Michael Clarke led the team out on the fourth morning with Ponting off the field protecting the injury and doing all he can to be ready for Boxing Day. Ponting was sent to hospital for a scan after rebounding the edge of Jonathan Trott from first slip to the wicketkeeper Brad Haddin late on the third day.
After joining his team-mates in the huddle, he left the field for treatment. Peter Siddle said Ponting "seemed alright", but the extent of the injury was not revealed until a Cricket Australia statement before play on the fourth day.
The WACA has become a horrible ground for Ponting, who was forced to retire hurt last year after being struck on the elbow by West Indies' Kemar Roach. His poor run in this series continued here with scores of 12 and 1, taking his total to 83 in six innings.
Despite the pain in his hand, Ponting will be buoyed by the amazing response of his team in Perth after being out-played in the opening two Ashes fixtures. Australia need only five wickets over the next two days to level the series at 1-1 with two Tests remaining.
Ponting last missed a Test in 2004-05 when a broken finger kept him out of the first three games of the final-frontier victory in India. Adam Gilchrist was in charge of that campaign, handing over to Ponting for the final match, which Australia lost in Mumbai. Clarke, the vice-captain, will step in if Ponting can't recover for the Boxing Day Test, although Ponting is determined to play through the pain in his push to regain the Ashes.
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo