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Ponting emerges as Hurricanes' BBL key
David Beniuk
14:58 AEST Mon Dec 31 2012

Retired champion Ricky Ponting has emerged as the Hobart Hurricanes' key man as they find themselves on a roll at the right end of the Big Bash League (BBL) season.

Ponting admitted recently he was still getting used to the Twenty20 game, having played only 17 international T20 matches in his Australian career.

He hasn't played a one-day international since February and, at 38, was something of an unknown quantity heading into his first full BBL season.

But consecutive scores of 63 in straight victories for the Hurricanes has coach Tim Coyle declaring Australia's greatest Test run-scorer the man who has rescued his side's batting.

"He's become the glue around the batting order and we're batting around him," Coyle told reporters ahead of the New Year's Day clash with the in-form Perth Scorchers at Bellerive.

Ponting opened the innings in his first three matches before slipping back to No.3 for the Boxing Day win over the Sydney Sixers.

If some had doubts about his ability to light up the BBL, Coyle was not among them.

"I said at the start of the tournament once he's over the emotion of retiring from Test cricket and his mind's free of that then ... his Twenty20 cricket will rise to the top," Coyle said.

"That's exactly what we're seeing, it's absolutely no surprise to me and I think he'll only get better."

The fifth-placed Hurricanes made the semi-finals last season and their clash with the fourth-placed Scorchers, who have won their past three games, will be crucial in them repeating that feat.

"We've got some momentum at the moment but it can be taken away from you pretty quickly in this game," Coyle said.

Allrounder Evan Gulbis returns to the Hurricanes' 13-man squad at the expense of Scott Boland while, for the Scorchers, Tim Armstrong has been replaced by Joe Mennie.

Meanwhile, Australian and Hurricanes paceman Ben Hilfenhaus continues to undergo treatment for the side strain he picked up during the first Test against Sri Lanka.

"He felt a bit better yesterday, talking to him," Coyle said.

"So we'll wait and see what happens in probably the next week or two."

Hurricanes: George Bailey (capt), Aiden Blizzard, Doug Bollinger, Travis Birt, Xavier Doherty, Evan Gulbis, Michael Hogan, Jason Krejza, Ben Laughlin, Tim Paine, Ricky Ponting, Owais Shah, Jon Wells.

Scorchers: Simon Katich (capt), Michael Beer, Jason Behrendorff, Hilton Cartwright, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Herschelle Gibbs, Brad Hogg, Shaun Marsh, Joe Mennie, Marcus North, Alfonso Thomas, Tom Triffitt, Adam Voges.


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