Ponting to play in fourthth Test, says finger is fine

Melbourne: Captain Ricky Ponting expects to take his place in Australia’s side for the fourth Ashes Test against England after again testing his broken finger in a batting session on Saturday.

Ponting will move away from his regular catching position at second slip for the Test starting Sunday after fracturing his left little finger while attempting a catch during the third Test in Perth.

“The boys have been joking about that this morning actually, that I could be fine leg to fine leg through the game,” Ponting said of his new fielding position, likely to be mid-off. “I won’t be at second slip but I’ll find somewhere where I can keep myself in the game.”

“The finger’s good. I’m pretty surprised how I’ve been able to train.”

While Ponting has had difficulty at the crease in this series - averaging under 20 - he has averaged 62.42 in 13 Tests at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, where officials are expecting a record crowd of 91,000-plus on the first day.

Australia’s Perth win last week leveled the five-match series at 1-1. A win by England in Melbourne would allow Andrew Strauss’ side to retain the urn.

Australia has not named its side, although selectors may stick with the four-man pace attack which was successful in Perth, which would mean uncapped spinner Michael Beer would be 12th man and be released to state duties for Western Australia.

Uncapped batsman Usman Khawaja is on standby for Ponting but it’s unlikely the left-hander will be required.

“We haven’t finalized the 11 yet.” Ponting said. “We’ll wait until the morning to see one, what the weather’s like, and two, if the wicket changes at all.”

England pace bowler James Anderson was expected to train Saturday and Test out a side strain that has bothered him since Perth, but he should be fit to play.

His teammate Jonathan Trott said the nature of the series - a draw in Brisbane, innings win by England in Adelaide and a big win by Australia in Perth, has made for an exciting series.

“Going 1-0 up and being really, really keen to perform, things didn’t go our way (in Perth),” Trott said. “It was a good example of how Test cricket can turn around pretty quickly.”

Strauss said the sense of occasion Sunday won’t be lost on his side.

“They’re talking nearly a hundred thousand people there,” Strauss said Saturday. “It’s one of the highlights of your career, being able to play at the MCG in a Boxing Day Test. We’re determined to make the most of that.”