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Ashes: Ricky Ponting eyes Melbourne after finger injury

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Ponting praises bowler Johnson

Injured Australia captain Ricky Ponting thanked his team-mates for a "great birthday present" - while targeting a swift return to Ashes action.

Ponting did not take the field on Sunday, his 36th birthday, after X-rays confirmed he had sustained a fracture in the little finger on his left hand.

But Australia emphatically beat an off-colour England on day four in Perth.

And Ponting said he had "a good chance" of taking the field for what is now a crucial Boxing Day Test in Melbourne.

"As far as fingers go it's not a bad one to break," he added, after he injured the finger trying to take a slip catch late on day three.

Some of the deliveries that got their batsmen out will now have them thinking seriously about the way that they play him

Ricky Ponting on Mitchell Johnson

The Australians raced to their expected victory, taking the last five England wickets inside the first hour with Ryan Harris taking four of those scalps.

He took 6-47 and finished with nine in the match, though he was pipped to man-of-the-match honours by fellow paceman Mitchell Johnson.

Ponting felt his team's 267-run win on his 36th birthday was one in the eye for critics who had felt the Australians had little to offer after going 1-0 down in Adelaide.

With the series level, question-marks remain over Ponting's batting form - but he was delighted with the overall team performance.

"We've had plenty of doubters and we knew we had to turn things around quick. It is great for the boys to play the way they did. Now we have set new standards," he said.

Given that his predecessor Steve Waugh once scored an Ashes century after going into a Test at The Oval with a two-centimetre tear to a calf muscle, there will be little to stop Ponting playing at the MCG.

Ryan Harris
Harris was on the money as the Aussies wrapped up their win quickly

"I erred on the side of caution but I was a bit sore. I can't afford to take a knock on it at this stage," he said after Michael Clarke had taken over as on-field captain.

"I need time to heal, but I think I'm a good chance to play in Melbourne. I haven't been game to grab a bat yet. I'll wait a couple of days before I do that.

"I am not going to be silly and put myself ahead of the team. I will make the decision on the morning of the game and do the right thing by the team."

Ponting felt Australia's 268 on day one, judged a modest total, was "probably the difference in the end", but he reserved his greatest praise for Johnson's stunning spell on Friday which forced a spectacular England collapse.

"That spell was probably one of the all-time greatest spells in Ashes history," the contented skipper said of the left-arm seamer, who was dropped for Adelaide after failing to take a wicket in the first Test.

"It's transformed him and it's transformed the way that everybody talks about him and thinks about him as a bowler, whether that's in this room or in the English dressing room, most importantly in the English dressing room.

606: DEBATE
NEIL ROBERTSON 2010 WC

"Some of the deliveries that got their batsmen out will now have them thinking seriously about the way that they play him.

"I heard some rumours coming in, whispers coming in to the game that they had Mitch's type of bowling worked out and knew how to play him. I'm not sure that they're saying that now."

Australia have already named an unchanged 12-man squad for Melbourne - with the 11 players on duty at Perth joined by uncapped left-arm spinner Michael Beer, who was left out of the side on the first morning.

If a stand-by player is required as cover for Ponting, his identity will be announced in due course.



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see also
England crash to heavy Ashes loss
19 Dec 10 |  England
Strauss will not rule out changes
19 Dec 10 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
19 Dec 10 |  Cricket
Third Ashes Test in photos
19 Dec 10 |  England
Sunday's Ashes gossip column
19 Dec 10 |  Cricket
Waugh joins Ponting future debate
16 Dec 10 |  Australia
England in Australia 2010-11
08 Oct 09 |  Cricket
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket


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