Melbourne: Australian cricket fans have backed out-of-sorts batsman Ricky Ponting to pad up for the four-match Test series against India before deciding on his international future.
Ponting is keen to bat on against India despite a poor recent run of form and a century drought which stretches almost two years.
Former Australian skipper Allan Border recently suggested the first Test starting here on December 26 would mark the end for either Ponting or Michael Hussey.
Ponting, however, has won the support of fans, who voted online in a poll, with the majority urging him to play in the India Test series.
Just over 35 per cent of voters said Ponting should take on India and see how he performs while a further 21.28 per cent said he deserved the right to retire when he wants to.
Only 26 per cent of respondents said Ponting ought to retire immediately while 17.28 per cent said the selectors should axe him now.
Ponting`s future has been a hot topic among fans, experts and former cricketers for some time.
His long-time Australia teammate, spin legend Shane Warne said the constant speculation over Ponting`s future could impact the team`s performance.
Former Australia leg-spinner Stuart MacGill said Ponting would be in his Test XI for Melbourne.
"He`s been one of the best batsmen Australia`s ever seen, bar none, for me. (It`s) Bradman and Ricky Ponting, I have no hesitation in saying that," MacGill said.
"He`s obviously struggling big time at the moment but whilst the rest of the top six are having problems, he`s got to stay. Ricky Ponting will leave when he feels he is embarrassing himself or his teammates."
MacGill suggested sliding Shane Watson down the order upon his return from injury, promoting Usman Khawaja to open, and delivered bad news for an Australia stalwart.
"I`m actually going to be saying thank you very much Michael Hussey," MacGill said.
"If you need an extra bowler then maybe that`s where Daniel Christian gets a look."
Leading cricket scribe Robert Craddock said Australia`s selectors -- or Ponting himself -- had a tough call to make.
"In his last seven series only once has he averaged more than 33," Craddock said.
"For a 37-year-old that warrants (chairman of selectors) John Inverarity having a chat to Ricky about his future. The end really is nigh."