Fitness fears for Ponting
A question mark remains over the fitness of Ricky Ponting ahead of the Boxing Day Test against Pakistan.
By Rachel Griffiths
Last Updated: 23/12/09 4:15pm
A question mark remains over the fitness of Ricky Ponting ahead of the Boxing Day Test against Pakistan after the Australia captain failed to bat during a practice session.
With the opening Test of the series at the MCG just three days away, Ponting could only participate in fielding drills during training as he continues to recover from an elbow injury sustained during the Perth Test against the West Indies.
The skipper did not attend a promotional event with his colleagues in Melbourne's Federation Square, instead spending more time in a hyperbaric chamber in hope of speeding up the healing process.
Australia wicketkeeper Brad Haddin has played down Ponting's inability to bat and revealed he is confident the captain will lead out the team on Saturday.
"I don't think he will have a bat until the next couple of days but he moved pretty well in the field," said Haddin.
"It's not unusual for someone not to have a hit a couple of days out (from a Test match)."
Haddin believes that Ponting is resilient enough to make a recovery in time for the crucial Test.
"Ricky Ponting is a very tough character, he is our leader so we are planning on him being around and let's hope he is ready for Boxing Day," he added.
"We are still planning at this stage that Ricky will be available and it will take a lot for him to miss the Boxing Day Test.
"He has got a phenomenal record in Boxing Day Test matches and big Test matches in general and it doesn't get much bigger than Boxing Day."
Should Ponting fail to recuperate in time, Michael Clarke will make his debut outing as Test captain for Australia.
The home side's batting line-up would also have to be changed, with Philip Hughes returning to the squad at the top of the order to partner either Simon Katich or Shane Watson.
Veteran middle-order batsman Mike Hussey believes that while a change to the batting line-up would be disruptive, Australia can cope should Ponting be unavailable.
"We have had to be very flexible, particularly in the shorter forms of the game and particularly us guys in the middle order," said Hussey.
"I think that will probably be a little more challenging in a Test match where you do like to have your structure and know where you are going to be batting but the game is evolving all the time so that flexibility is required.
"I wouldn't see that it will be an issue, but we are hopeful that Ricky is going to be okay."