Phillip Hughes has won a recall to the Australian squad and is on standby for Ricky Ponting while Peter Siddle has also been included in the 13-man outfit for the Boxing Day Test against Pakistan. Hughes has not played a Test since being dropped after two games in the Ashes series, but the opening batsman has convinced Andrew Hilditch's panel he is the man to replace Ponting if he does not recover in time from the left elbow problem suffered in Perth.
Ponting, who was struck trying to duck a Kemar Roach short ball, hopes to play but the selectors are being cautious after a run of injures. The physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said Ponting, who has been in a hyperbaric chamber to speed up the healing, was having on-going treatment for the problem. "We'll need to wait until he bats at training later in the week to determine his fitness for the Test," Kountouris said.
Siddle missed the Perth win with a hamstring strain but will play a domestic one-dayer for Victoria on Wednesday to build up his fitness. Clint McKay, who debuted at the WACA, holds his place while Ben Hilfenhaus misses out again following a knee problem that ruled him out of the final two Tests against West Indies.
"Ben bowled eight overs in club cricket on Saturday," Kountouris said. "However, after bowling again at training on Sunday, he reported knee pain once again." Kountouris predicted Hilfenhaus would need a "more extensive rehabilitation" before he overcame the problem.
Hughes scored 122 in the first innings of New South Wales' Sheffield Shield game on Saturday, but fell for 7 today in an innings that didn't change the thoughts of the selectors. He has scored 388 runs in nine Shield innings and re-found his form this month following a difficult period when it seemed he was unsure whether to follow his natural instincts or conform.
After scoring two centuries in his second Test, Hughes was set for a long stay in the side, but he was removed following troubles with the short ball and Andrew Flintoff in England. Shane Watson came into the team and if Hughes plays at the MCG there is likely to be some serious reshuffling to the order. Some of the options include Hughes, Simon Katich or Michael Clarke batting at three, while Watson could move down to the middle order.
Australia squad Shane Watson, Simon Katich, Phillip Hughes, Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Hussey, Michael Clarke, Marcus North, Brad Haddin (wk), Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Hauritz, Peter Siddle, Clint McKay, Doug Bollinger.