Ponting likely to play in fourth Ashes Test

Melbourne: Ricky Ponting said on Thursday his chances of leading Australia in Sunday’s fourth Ashes Test against England were “very high” after completing training without mishap.

Ponting fractured the little finger on his left hand while attempting a slip catch during the third Test win in Perth last weekend.

The Australian skipper told reporters that he rated his chances of playing in Melbourne as “very high” and said his injury had shown even greater improvement than he had expected.

Ponting’s determination to play in Sunday’s crucial Ashes Test despite a broken finger will provide great inspiration to the Australia team, wicketkeeper Brad Haddin said.

Uncapped New South Wales batsman Usman Khawaja has been put on standby for Ponting but the skipper is giving every indication he will be fit to lead Australia in the Boxing Day Test.

The series is tied at one Test each with two matches remaining and England will retain the urn if they win either in Melbourne or the New Year Test in Sydney.

But Haddin said Ponting played a key role in rallying the side for a confidence-boosting win in Perth last week which got the Australians back into the series.

“He’s our leader and we get a lot of inspiration from him,” Haddin told a press conference on on Thursday.

“He’s been a great leader for Australia for a long time and especially with this group of players.”

“You just have to see the turnaround we had from Adelaide to Perth to see the effect he has on the cricket team. It’s very important that he plays.”

Ponting is Test cricket’s second-leading runscorer with 39 hundreds, but is averaging only 16.60 in the current Ashes series.

After breaking his finger attempting a catch in the slips in Perth, Ponting appears likely to move himself to a new fielding position for the fourth Test.

“He had a field and things pulled up well there,” Haddin said.

“He’s going to have a bat on Friday and with a bit of luck all that goes to plan.

Haddin said the performance in Perth had boosted the side’s confidence and the players were looking forward to Boxing Day.

“It’s a massive Test match, the MCG, maybe a world-record crowd (of 91,000) so from the players’ point of view, it doesn’t get any better a stage than this,” he said.


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