Injured Ponting to miss Sydney Test, Clarke may take over


Sydney : Australian Test captain Ricky Ponting has been ruled out of the fifth and last Test of the Ashes series in Sydney due to a broken finger and Michael Clarke is expected to take over the reins.

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The selectors are expected to pick Clarke to lead but a formal announcement will be made only after directors of Cricket Australia clear the appointment.

Ponting has been advised immediate treatment to his fractured finger he aggravated during the Melbourne Test and the Australian selectors have delayed naming the captain and team for the Sydney Test by five hours, till 5.30 p.m.

Ponting’s place will go to batsman Usman Khwaja who will become Australia’s first Muslim Test cricketer. He and new captain Clarke will speak to the media later in the day.

There is intense speculation that Ponting may have worn the baggy green for the last time in a Test after being ruled out for the Sydney Test, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Injury to the 36-year-old may have paved the way for the selectors to think afresh of the side after failing to regain the Ashes. Anyway, Australia have no Test commitment till August in Sri Lanka.

Ponting is expected to consult a specialist in the next 24 hours to find out whether the injured fifth finger needs surgery to set it right.

He is expected to be fit to lead Australia in the World Cup on the subcontinent, starting Feb 19.

“Ricky Ponting had a repeat X-ray after the fourth Test which showed evidence that the fracture of his fifth finger has moved during the course of the Melbourne Test,” said team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris.

“As such he needs to commence treatment immediately to achieve a satisfactory outcome. The treatment options include surgery or aggressive splinting and immobilisation of the injured finger,” he said.

“A decision on the treatment option will be made in the next 24 hours after further consultation with the hand specialist,” Kountouris said.

“His return to cricket will be based on how quickly the fracture heals and he will hopefully commence training in the later part of the Australian summer. He is expected to be fully fit for the ICC Cricket World Cup,” he added.