John Buchanan says Damien Martyn has the ability to handle the No. 3 spot if he replaces the injured Ricky Ponting for the next two matches against South Africa. Martyn has been shuffled from opener into the middle order since returning from a broken finger for the VB Series and he stepped in at first-drop after Ponting pulled out of the opening game on Sunday with a stomach injury.
Ponting and Andrew Symonds [hip] did not train on Wednesday due to their problems and they are unlikely to appear in Friday's second match at Cape Town. Phil Jaques, who is covering for both players, has been touted as an option at No. 3, which would allow Martyn, Clarke and Hussey to fill spots four to six, but Buchanan offered more praise to Martyn for the vital position.
"Damien is a very skilful player," Buchanan told AAP. "He's played a lot of cricket at three in Test cricket or early in his career and certainly for Western Australia. So I think he's got the ability to handle that position."
Jaques has batted successfully in the middle order for the English counties Yorkshire and Northamptonshire, but Buchanan doubted he would be employed lower down the list. "I expect the selectors would view him very much as a top-order player," he said, "particularly an opening batsman."
While Buchanan did not rave about Jaques's prospects, he did compliment his fielding, which was given as a reason for him missing the original touring party. "He's one of the best short-legs I've ever seen," Buchanan said. "So he's not quite the rabbit that everyone makes him out to be. But there are issues like a bit of movement around the field."
Buchanan also said the bowlers were working on strategies to smother Graeme Smith, who scored a match-winning century in the first ODI, but AB de Villiers said Australia would have a battle to stay in the five-match contest. "They are obviously going to fight back real hard," he said, "but we are not going to allow them to get back in the series."