Australia have named Usman Khawaja as a standby player in their squad for the fourth Ashes Test as captain Ricky Ponting races to recover from a fractured finger.
Ponting suffered the injury when he parried a catch from second slip to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin to dismiss England's Jonathan Trott late on day three of the third Test in Perth.
National selection panel chairman Andrew Hilditch said: "While the NSP are confident Ricky Ponting will be available for the Boxing Day Test, through an abundance of caution we have named Usman Khawaja as the standby player.
"Usman richly deserves this opportunity following his excellent form at domestic level last season and continuing on this season."
The uncapped Khawaja has been in outstanding form in this season's Sheffield Shield, leading the run-scoring charts with 598 at an average of 74.75.
And the Pakistan-born left-hander insists he is ready if called upon by his adopted country to replace Ponting.
"I've said this before, I think I was ready when I was six years old," he told reporters. "I think everyone's ready to play for Australia."
Former national team opener Justin Langer, though, shares Hilditch's confidence that captain Ponting will be out on the field when the action gets underway at the MCG.
"I would be amazed if Ricky doesn't play in this test, he is that tough physically and mentally," Langer told Tuesday's Sydney Morning Herald.
"At one-all, Boxing Day test, a chance to win the Ashes, he will definitely be there."Reuse content