Australia coach backs Ricky Ponting to play in Ashes

 

Australia coach Mickey Arthur wants Ricky Ponting to stay on until the next Ashes tour and has backed the former captain to overcome the shortage of Test cricket and hold his spot.

The 37-year-old was axed from the one-day international team during the Commonwealth Bank Series but maintained his spot in the Test XI after an outstanding Australian summer and Arthur was hopeful that would continue until the next Ashes tour in England in 2013.

After dominating India with 544 runs from four Tests at an average of 109, Ponting's form dropped in the 2-0 series win against the West Indies with a return of 146 runs at just 24.

But Arthur said he had no doubt Ponting had the ability and desire to help Australia win back the urn next year, even though a shortage of Test cricket in 2012 would prove a stumbling block.

Australia's next Test match is not until November when South Africa begin their tour, with the only matches for the side until then the five one-day international tour of England and the Twenty20 World Cup.

"I know there was a lot of media pressure and talk around Ricky, but Ricky's not going anywhere," Arthur said.

"We hope Ricky's scoring enough runs to go to the Ashes, most certainly, in England.

"Ricky's still got a lot of Test runs in him, there's no doubt about that.

"I thought Ricky was very unlucky (in the West Indies) ... he was always bubbling away. His form was always good, so no worries about Ricky Ponting at all.

"Ricky is definitely no way considering retiring I wouldn't have thought from my conversations with him and he'll be fit and ready to go against South Africa ... I think if we win the Ashes, then maybe he'll go out on the top of his game."

Arthur said Ponting's extensive experience in his 165-Test career would be enough for him to enter the South African series in good form, even though he'll be short on match practice.

"We don't have to worry about Ricky Ponting, he'll be ready," he said.

The new coach, who has won seven of his first nine Tests, also said he was 'very comfortable' with Ed Cowan and David Warner maintaining the opening partnership despite their recent struggles.

Cowan has averaged less than 30 through his first seven Tests and scored only 152 runs in the West Indies while Warner also didn't reach his brilliant best in the Caribbean

"I think Warner and Cowan will get better and better," Arthur said.

"Ed Cowan came on through the summer ... he got better and better at playing spin bowling.

"We want Dave to get more consistent but it's not his style. We certainly don't want Dave to lose his character, because that's what made him special."

PA

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