Australia's Ponting Goes in to Bat for His Job

Sydney, Dec 25 (DPA) Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting Saturday declared himself fit to play in the crucial fourth Ashes Test against England in Melbourne Sunday.

The out-of-form batsman, who broke his little finger last weekend in the Perth Test that put the local side back in the game, admitted another low score Sunday would jeopardise his inclusion in the fifth and final match.

"We set ourselves new standards as far as Test cricket is concerned and we have to maintain those for the next couple of weeks," Ponting said after a final blast in the nets before Sunday's fixture.

"If we don't, and we take the foot off the pedal at all, it could be a very important week for a few of us."

Ponting has played 151 Tests but is in woeful form and is being urged to retire despite leading his team to a series-equalling win in Perth.

"We understand where the series is at and we know what we have to do to play well and hopefully we can do it again," Ponting, 35, said.

"I thought the way we responded and reacted last week was outstanding."

The first fixture, in Brisbane, was a draw and England thrashed Australia in the second Test in Adelaide. But Australia's storied triumph in the third in Perth has passed the momentum to Ponting's side.

It was the first time ever that Australia had trained the day before a Boxing Day Test.

England captain Andrew Strauss said at his pre-match press conference that his side was ready to bounce back after the Perth drubbing.

"It's going to be a pretty big occasion," Strauss said. "They're talking nearly 100,000 people there. It's one of the highlights of your career, being able to play at the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) in a Boxing Day Test, and we're determined to make the most of that."

Victory for England would mean keeping the trophy, because two wins each and one drawn game would favour the visiting team.



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Title: Australia's Ponting Goes in to Bat for His Job

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