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Australia want Ponting for Ashes
By Ben Horne
18:11 AEST Tue Nov 27 2012

Australian coach Mickey Arthur says selectors are unanimous in not wanting Ricky Ponting phased out before next year's Ashes but warns there's mounting pressure on him from beneath.

Arthur couldn't deny that the third Test against South Africa in Perth could be pivotal in the future of Australia's highest-ever run scorer, with Phil Hughes, Usman Khawaja and even Rob Quiney still in the picture.

Ponting has had three successive failures to start the series against South Africa, and in the second Test in Adelaide was bowled twice in a match for only the second time in his career.

The Tasmanian turns 38 next month but unfortunately that same number is the former captain's Test batting average for the past three years.

Arthur said Ponting's position was dependent on runs but he made it clear the selectors were keen to avoid losing his experience and presence before Australia head to England.

"All I know is inside that dressing room and privately we've all backed Ricky Ponting. At the moment (he) has the unanimous backing of the selection panel," said Arthur.

"If he's scoring runs we certainly want Ricky Ponting around for the next six months.

"We want Ricky Ponting to go to the Ashes, there's no doubt about that.

"Like any batsman though you've got to keep scoring runs ... and Perth is a big Test for him, and that's by Ricky's own admission.

"I'm 100 per cent sure though and confident Ricky will come through in Perth."

Ponting has already thrown himself at the mercy of selectors, conceding a frank chat with the panel probably isn't far away.

But Arthur said there was yet to be any discussion about Ponting's future.

"No, none whatsoever," he said.

Clarke said Ponting's strong Shield form prior to the Test series hadn't been forgotten and his brilliant record for Australia meant he deserved to have faith shown in him.

"Once he gets in I have no doubt at all he'll go on and make a big score," said the skipper.

"He knows how to make big hundreds. He's still as good a player under pressure as anyone in that changeroom."

In the first Test against Sri Lanka next month in Hobart, Ponting would be in line to break Waugh's all-time record and become the second most capped Test cricketer of all time behind Sachin Tendulkar, in front of his home-State fans.

It would be a massive call to drop him before then.

But further failures against South Africa's highly-touted quicks in Perth would raise serious questions about whether he is too far in decline to see out the summer.

A young player like Hughes, Khawaja or Quiney looking for a second chance at Test level, could benefit from making their return against the weaker attack of Sri Lanka.

Hughes, who hasn't played for Australia since being dropped after the New Zealand Test in Hobart last year, is the highest run-scorer in Shield cricket this season and averages 51.8.

"We've got some young players there that have a taste now of international cricket and when called up or when needed are ready to step into the breach," said Arthur.