Melbourne: Australia`s national selector Andy Bichel on Wednesday backed former skipper Ricky Ponting saying that he will soon regain form as they prepare for the four Test series against India, starting on December 26.
Ponting had a disastrous 2011, scoring only 293 runs from six Tests at an average of 26.64, and likes of former Test skipper Ian Chappell believes the time has come for Australia`s selectors to put the 158-Test veteran on notice.
Former fast bowler Bichel said that the veteran Tasmanian should not walk onto the MCG fearing the selection axe.
"I`d hate to think anyone who is playing for Australia is completely under pressure," Bichel said. "Every game is important, but I dont want Ricky or anyone looking over their shoulder because (the axe) is around the corner," Bichel was quoted as saying by the Daily Telegraph.
"It`s a bad environment to create, a lot of guys played a lot of Test cricket before they scored a hundred and they continued to play for Australia. Just because you have two or three bad games, your job cant be on the line," Bichel stated.
"John Inverarity has had a fair chat to Ricky, he`s a legend of the game and hes still keen to play on. Anyone who is in the team has to perform. Ricky has got a couple of 60s in recent times, under pressure as well, and he needs to keep on performing."
"At the end of the day, thats what Test cricket is about, being on the big stage and performing."
While Ponting appears to have the selectors` support, particularly if he scores runs in the first Test against India, former captains are divided on his future.
Chappell says it is time for Ponting, Australia`s greatest Test runscorer, to draw the curtain on a decorated but disintegrating career.
"Ricky is struggling," Chappell said. "He may still make runs, he is a fine player. He knows how to survive. If he gets over 20-30 runs, he will make a big score, but not as consistently as he did earlier. I would like to see Ricky make the decision himself."
"I would hate to see him getting dropped. One of the selectors should tell him that it`s time to go."
Former Australia skipper Kim Hughes knew when enough was enough after 70 Tests in the baggy green but predicted selectors wouldn`t make a call on Ponting until mid-series against India.
"It is obvious Ricky`s technique is the issue, he keeps falling away at the crease playing from off to leg. He has to fix it to remain in the side in my opinion, but he will get at least two Tests against India," Hughes said.
Another former skipper Mark Taylor said the heat was on Ponting to produce but commanded enough respect to remain in the interim with injuries also aiding his cause.
"I think it`s putting too much pressure on selectors right now to make that decision on Ricky and the decision has been taken out of their hands with Shane Watson`s injury," he said.