Ponting, Haddin, Johnson set to retain their places

Sydney: Maligned Australian cricketers Ricky Ponting, Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson may get another opportunity to display their skills in the first Test against New Zealand to be played at the “Gabba” in Brisbane, after scoring runs when it counted in the just concluded Johannesburg Test against South Africa.

Though their respective innings may not be emphatic and career-saving ones, the fact that Ponting, who scored a battling 62, Haddin (55), and Johnson, a match-winning 40 runs, should be able to convince the selectors to give them another chance.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Ponting`s prospects are aided by injuries to Shaun Marsh and Shane Watson.

The paper says that a “major shake-up of the Australian order is unlikely given their courageous two-wicket win at the Wanderers”.

``I have little doubt that if Ricky stays he`ll still add a lot,`` says Jamie Cox, a recently deposed Australian selector and Ponting`s former Tasmanian teammate.

He added: ``He hasn`t had a great time of it lately but he will score runs in our conditions. All I`m hearing around the team is he`s now providing a significant influence around what is a pretty young group. During my time as a selector, and I knew this before I took that role on, Ricky was one of the best watchers of people I think I`ve met. He had a terrific understanding and a very personal understanding of exactly where all of his team were at, whether he was captain or not. That`s the sort of stuff he does instinctively.``

``I imagine today they`re (Ponting, Haddin and Johnson) feeling OK about life, whereas a week ago, they were probably all feeling pretty flat,`` Cox says of the Australian trio.

South Africa captain Graeme Smith also offered some parting support to Ponting after the two-Test series ended drawn in Johannesburg.

``I`m not too sure what is in Australia or what the set-up is, but I know playing against a Ricky Ponting is always a daunting task,`` Smith said.

He added: ``He`s certainly one of the most competitive players you`ll ever play against. He`s been a credit to Australian cricket.``


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