Australia v England, 3rd Test, Perth, 4th day December 19, 2010

Ponting confident of playing on Boxing Day

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Ricky Ponting rates himself "a good chance" to play with his broken little finger on Boxing Day, but won't be too proud to stand down if he's not fit. Ponting has learned from last year, when he went into the biggest game of the summer with a serious elbow tendon problem, and expects to wait until the morning of the fourth Test to decide whether he can lead.

The injury ensures another bumpy lead-up for Australia and means Michael Clarke will be on standby for his first Test as captain. Greg Chappell, the selector, said yesterday Clarke, the current deputy, was not ready for the top job but changed tack today.

Ponting, who will not pick up a bat until later in the week, did not field on the final morning as Australia raced to a 267-run victory that levelled the series at 1-1. "I have to have treatment and look after it for a few days and rest it," he said. "I think I have a really good chance of playing, it is only a small fracture. It is a bit sore and angry at the moment, but I'll be right."

He suffered the break when he spilled the edge of Jonathan Trott at second slip on the third afternoon, with the rebound popping up to Brad Haddin. X-rays last night showed a small crack and he spent the morning of his 36th birthday in the dressing room to protect the injury. He walked out after the victory had been secured to congratulate his team-mates while keeping his left hand out of everyone's way.

Ponting was in a similar fitness race this time last year as he battled to be ready for the start of the series against Pakistan. His right elbow had been hit by a Kemar Roach short ball at the WACA, and the problem disrupted his batting for the rest of the summer.

He was determined to play on despite the discomfort, but this time he will consider a different approach if the injury hasn't healed. "I honestly think with it being a little finger on my left hand, I don't think it's as significant as being the top elbow last year," he said

"I'm not going to be silly and put myself ahead of the team. If I don't think I can function well, I won't play. If I feel like I can function and play somewhere near - I won't say how I've been playing, better than I have been playing - then I will play the game."

Ponting not only has a hurt finger, but he also hasn't been in form with the bat, scoring 83 runs in six innings in this series, and averaging 38.95 in 24 Tests since the start of last year. The lack of output has resulted in increased pressure on his leadership, although that has eased with the strength of this victory.

Clarke, 29, has also struggled for runs and been facing scrutiny as the captain in waiting. Chappell attempted to back-track today after telling Channel 9 yesterday that nobody was in the right frame of mind to step into the captaincy. The comments came before Ponting was hurt.

"In that discussion I was being very careful not to make suggestions against Ricky and I didn't speak clearly to get that message across," Chappell told the ABC. "Michael is our next captain, whenever that might be. We're very happy, he's done the job before, and we have no doubt he's ready for it.

"What I was trying to say was that when the handover comes we'd love him to be in peak form. I'm not trying to suggest there was a problem there."

Yesterday Chappell said: "If we're going to replace Ricky, we've got to make sure we've got someone that we're confident has the right frame of mind who can take over and do a good job," Chappell said. "And I don't know that we've got somebody that we feel we want to rush Ricky Ponting out the door at this moment. There is nobody absolutely ready for it. I don't think there are too many other players I'd want to put that pressure on."

Chappell said today that Ponting will be given time to turn around his batting form, just like Michael Hussey was at the start of this series. "In the nets he's batting well," Chappell said. "Perhaps the pressure of this series, he built it up as a very important series, perhaps he hasn't had the mental freedom to bat. Hopefully the win here might give him the freedom in Melbourne."

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Vishnu27 on December 21, 2010, 18:31 GMT

    Finn92: how can I say Swann is ineffective. Easily. Have you checked the Perth match stats? 25 overs for the match. 2/103. "#1 spinner"? Really? His captain had no confidence in him (i.e. overs bowled & fields set). He is a good bowler, but he was found out on a pitch that did not provide assistance. He was not dictating terms when he bowled in Perth. He was dictated to. Did you watch the Perth test? Did you see him bowl to Johnson? Once MJ showed some intent to him, he had no clue & started bowling flat 95km darts for fear of being launched. Hussey has totally dominated him throughout (despite being dismissed by him twice) & looks to attack him as soon as he comes on. I was talking the Perth test. However, Swann has simply not had the impact England would've been hoping for overall. His strike rate is 80 & he is averaging almost 40 a wicket. If that's effective as the "# 1 spinner/# 2 bowler in the world"(however meaningless that is), then I'm clearly mistaken & apologise sincerely.

  • SebV on December 20, 2010, 12:18 GMT

    @Finn92: I'm a massive fan of Swann and despite Perth offering little to no assistance to spin, I was very disappointed that he didn't take a single 2nd Inn wicket. If he did, we wouldn't have been looking at a target close to 400. Dare I say, Paul Collingwood has been disappointing as well. I'd like to see Eoin Morgan given a chance; not sure at who's expense though. @Vishnu27: I hope your comments will come back to haunt you. It's fair to say England's batting was the sole reason we lost this match, so on a different pitch at the G - WATCH OUT.

  • Okakaboka on December 20, 2010, 2:04 GMT

    I've tried to post 2 or 3 posts as to why Michael Clarke MUST NOT be allowed to Captain Australia if Ponting is not fit. They mysteriously haven't been posted. I'm not the only one I bet. I will try again.......CLARKE IS NOT CAPTAIN MATERIAL....NEVER WILL BE.....SHOULDN"T EVEN BE PLAYING...HE IS NOT A CLASS PLAYER ANYMORE!!!!!! Not a tactical brain cell in his body. WHITE MUST be made Captain....There is NO one else...end of story...full stop!!!!

  • hoarder on December 20, 2010, 0:44 GMT

    I am an Aussie and I cannot see why Ponting and Clarke are pampered so much by the selectors. Both are failing with regularity and putting pressure on the players further down the list. They are lucky that they have Hussey, Watson and Haddin and now for the bowlers both Johnson and Harris have fired. Now the selectors are considering as a captain a batting liability and unproven captain. It is about time the selectors were consistent - drop Ponting AND Clarke as neither currently deserve their place and history should not be a factor or the stupidity iin constantly saying that a big score is just around the corner (this is true for ANY player). At this point in time I believe the selectors to be jokes - if they were running a company the company would be bankrupt.

  • Sweno on December 19, 2010, 23:37 GMT

    The best candidate for the next Aussie Skipper is Cameron White. He needs to be in the team now! If he's not the next skipper, he should at the very least be the next vice captain. He is the best State Skipper in Australia! He needs to take the next opening in the batting order. Clarke neither has the form or the tactics to lead the Aussies - Does the team even want him as Skipper?

  • ashes61 on December 19, 2010, 23:16 GMT

    Yes, Boxing Day is the 26th December, except of course when that date falls on a Sunday, which it does this year. A 27th December Boxing Day has therefore come around again, but I don't expect the MCG to stop calling the Boxing Day Test the Boxing Day Test - after all, Boxing Day will still occur on the 2nd day!

    Sorry to be pedantic but I'd like to be right about something this week. I was wrong about the WACA Test, which looked done & dusted at 78-0 in the 1st innings. It has certainly set up the series nicely but not as much has changed as would seem at first. Allowing for any player to have a bad day or a bad run - as all do at some time - it is still fairly clear that England have the better group of quality players, with superior leadership and organisation too. In predicting a 3-0 win for England I had already allowed for home conditions favouring AUS and for a certain amount of traditional Aussie grit. I still don't see those factors closing the gap sufficiently. 3-1.

  • andrew-schulz on December 19, 2010, 22:52 GMT

    What Mohammed is probably asking is why is it called boxing day? There are better places on the net to search, but it has to do with the boxing of Christmas presents. As for street hawk, whether or not you can get his name right, Cosgrove has done nothing for years, now has one great game and he's supposed to be a Test player? Please.

  • jrnmorris on December 19, 2010, 20:43 GMT

    I hope Ponting dont recover in time. Dont get me wrong, i am a big Ponting supporter but he isnt performing currently. i would love to see how the team perform without Ponting in the team. The selectors must not hope for the players to gain form, like for instance North. The guy was hopeless, scored a few hundreds which made him a good player. What happen to if the player dont perform he is out of he team. How can the selectors rely on an out of form player to win games. It's madness and suicide. Hopefully the of time will clear Ricky's mind and made him the fearful player he used to be.

  • Street_Hawk on December 19, 2010, 19:40 GMT

    Sorry Mark Cosgrove* and not Michael Cosgrove

  • Street_Hawk on December 19, 2010, 19:39 GMT

    Aussies have to bring back NATHAN HAURITZ for the boxing day test and Ponting needs to let go of his ego which is hurting the team. Also, Michael Cosgrove can fit in for Phillip Hughes...Cosgrove is a wonderful batsmen capable of playing both pace and spin

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