22 Dec 2009

Hughes on standby for Ponting

7:24 am on 22 December 2009

Australia could be forced into a significant shuffle of their batting order if Ricky Ponting's elbow injury keeps him out of the Boxing Day cricket Test against Pakistan.

By drafting young opener Phillip Hughes instead of a specialist No.3 as cover for Ponting, Australia must contemplate breaking the successful union between Shane Watson and Simon Katich if the Australian skipper succumbs to injury.

Watson and Katich posted century stands in the last two Tests against the West Indies and in the 10 innings they have batted together since the Ashes, have averaged starts of 66.

If Ponting does miss the Test, Australia will either play Hughes in an unfamiliar position of first drop, or send one of Katich or Watson to No.3.

They could even pair Hughes and Katich together, play Watson at six and have Mike Hussey, Michael Clarke and Marcus North all move up a spot.

Australia expect Ponting to overcome the tendon damage he suffered when hit by a Kemar Roach delivery during the third Test in Perth, but will not be able to assess his fitness until he bats at training on Wednesday.

Australian squad :

Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Clarke, Doug Bollinger, Brad Haddin, Nathan Hauritz, Phillip Hughes, Mike Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Simon Katich, Clint McKay, Marcus North, Peter Siddle, Shane Watson.

AAP ac/gc