Places up for grabs: Ponting
by CricketArchive Staff Reporter

Player:RT Ponting, NM Hauritz, PM Siddle
Event:Australia in British Isles 2009

DateLine: 1st July 2009


Australia skipper Ricky Ponting admitted spots are up for grabs in the side with the opening Ashes Test only a week away.


Australia enter TuesdayÂ’s match against England Lions at New Road as there are many question marks hanging over the tourists' bowling department.


Peter Siddle is being rested for the four-day fixture, after impressing against Sussex at Hove, and Mitchell Johnson is a certainty to start at the SWALEC Stadium.


This leaves off-spinner Nathan Hauritz alongside pacers Brett Lee and Stuart Clark to fight for the other two spots in the attack.


Hauritz though has struggled badly with form while Lee is still to regain his past form after undergoing ankle surgery during the winter.


"The important thing now is that there are absolutely no certainties for the first Test right at this moment," Ponting said.


"We are still a week or so from Cardiff, and lots of things can happen and change in that period of time. The spots are still up for grabs.


"There are five fast bowlers in our squad, probably all of whom feel they should be playing in that first Test.


"Taking three into this game is another great opportunity for them to put their names forward and impress with what they can do."


The Australian skipper is expecting the wicket at Cardiff to turn and this is the reason he is keen to see Hauritz make his mark at New Road.


"I've got all the statistics for the season of all the spinners who have played county cricket down at Cardiff.


"I've had a look at their figures and what they've done. Danish Kaneria (of Essex) seems like he was pretty hard work to play against.


"He has taken a lot of wickets, but there have been some indifferent figures as well. They make some interesting reading. We will have to make a more informed judgment when we get down there."


"He is playing again here," Ponting said about Hauritz.


"The plan from the start was to give him good opportunities to play in the first two games and get some good quality bowling under his belt against some good players in these sorts of conditions.


"Last week for him was a really good blow-out, the first time he has been back playing four-day cricket for quite a while. He didn't play in the South African Test series and has been in and out of our one-day side.


"He has been starved of four-day cricket for quite a while. That game last week should have done him the world of good. He has trained very well and hard the last couple of days.


"There are good signs there. He is always willing to put in the hard work, to try and learn and try different things, so we hope he will get some results out of this game for us."