Aussies aim No 1 slot; fine farewell for Ponting

Former undisputed top dogs Australia are desperate to ensure Ricky Ponting ends his career in style by reclaiming the number one ranking from South Africa in the final Test starting on Friday.

The Australians have not been at the summit of Test cricket since 2009 but draws in the first two Tests mean they can replace the Proteas as the number one team with a win in Perth. South Africa only need a draw to retain their crown.

Captain Michael Clarke said Australia, currently ranked number three in the world, were determined to see Ponting’s stellar international career end on a high note. “It will only give us more inspiration, there is no doubt about that,” Clarke said of Ponting’s retirement. Ponting, who has scored 13,366 Test runs at 52.21 including 41 centuries, has just 20 runs at 6.66 in this series and said he was determined to produce something special in his final appearance on the Test stage. “I said to the boys I am hungrier than ever and I want this win more than probably any game I have ever played in. I will do whatever I can to contribute to a great team performance and if that leads to a win for the team and we get back to the top of the tree and number one in the world, there is no better time for me to finish.”  Australia could field a completely revamped bowling attack, with their three fast bowlers from the second Test in Adelaide, which ended on Monday, all ruled out.

They are also considering going with a four-man pace attack, relegating spinner Nathan Lyon to 12th man.

Clarke said Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus were still too fatigued from Adelaide to play in Perth, while James Pattinson has been sidelined by a side injury. Left-armers Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson will both play their first Test of the series, while at least one of uncapped duo Josh Hazlewood and John Hastings will make a Test debut. Smith said the new Australian attack would be another hurdle for his team, especially with the introduction of the two left-armers.

Smith said Jacques Kallis would be given until the last minute to prove his fitness and was hopeful the all-rounder would play.

After suffering a hamstring injury during the second Test in Adelaide and unable to bowl.
Smith declared Vernon Philander ‘’ready to go’ after being a late withdrawal from Adelaide with back soreness and said he wanted to play a specialist spinner, hinting Imran Tahir was set to make way for Robin Peterson.

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