Clarke backing for Ponting

PA Sport
Michael Clarke, right, still has faith in former skipper Ricky Ponting, left
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Michael Clarke, right, still has faith in former skipper Ricky Ponting, left

Australia captain Michael Clarke has backed Ricky Ponting to find form in the third and final Test against South Africa in Perth.

Ponting has managed just 20 runs in the first two Tests of the summer, which have both ended in draws.

"I see him scoring a triple hundred in Perth in the first innings," Clarke said. "I have no doubt that he will go on to make a big score. He knows how to make big hundreds and he's still as good a player under pressure as anybody in that changing room."

He added: "The one thing we need to keep in mind is that he was the leading run-scorer in (Sheffield) Shield cricket leading up to the start of this summer. We can all get out early in our innings, every single one of us. The start of your innings is the toughest time to bat, especially when you're facing the best attack in the world.

"He will just be working as hard as he can just to get through the start of the innings like the rest of us and then he'll he cash in and go on to make a big score. I'm confident of that."

Batsman Rob Quiney has been axed for the Perth Test following a return of just nine in the first meeting in Brisbane and a pair of ducks in Adelaide to pave the way for the return of vice-captain Shane Watson, who has recovered from the calf strain that has kept him out the series so far.

Clarke said the all-rounder would be fit enough to bat and bowl. Quick James Pattinson also missed out after a summer-ending rib injury and will be replaced by either Mitchell Starc, 12th man in both tests, or one of Mitchell Johnson, John Hastings and Josh Hazlewood, who were also included in an extended 14-man squad.

Clarke revealed another of those pacemen could also be included in the XI for the final Test to give a break to either Peter Siddle or Ben Hilfenhaus. The duo bowled 67 overs between them following South Africa's defiant batting display in the remaining two days in Adelaide.

"Hilfy and Sidds have had a really heavy workload and bowled a hell of a lot in the last couple of weeks in both test matches," Clarke said.

"Sidds is no doubt fatigued. He's bowled his heart out, but he's got three days to recover and get himself right and have every opportunity to take the field. I know he will be keen as mustard to get on to that park in Perth, but he's no doubt fatigued."

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