Australia coach warns Ricky Ponting his Test place is under threat

Ricky Ponting
Ponting has scored 39 Test centuries in his 158-Test career

Australia coach Mickey Arthur has warned former captain Ricky Ponting he will only be picked for this winter's four Tests against India on merit.

Ponting, 37, is Australia's leading Test-run scorer, having compiled a total of 12,656 at an average of 52.29.

But since relinquishing the captaincy in March, Ponting has scored 293 runs in six Tests at an average of 26.

Arthur said: "Ricky is vital to where we want to take this team [but] I don't think anyone's guaranteed a start."

Ponting, who oversaw Australia's third Ashes loss in four series last winter, resigned following his side's quarter-final exit at the World Cup in India.

His recent form has prompted much debate in Australia as to whether he should be dropped or allowed to decide the manner of his own exit.

He has accumulated two half-centuries in his last four Test innings but scored just 21 runs in the defeat by New Zealand in Hobart earlier this month.

Ponting, who has scored 39 Test centuries, is third behind Indian duo Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid on the most Test runs list.

However, he has been sent to a batting boot camp along with captain Michael Clarke, Mike Hussey, Shane Watson, Dan Christian and wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, in the wake of Australia slumping from 159-2 to 233 all out in losing to the Kiwis.

South African Arthur said: "We are really hoping that he finds his form and hopefully that form is just around the corner.

"I've backed Ricky Ponting like I've backed Mike Hussey for a period of time because I think they're crucial to the development of the side.

"For our young batters, to bat with guys like that is fantastic. But they need to keep giving us ammunition, they need to keep giving us performances.

"Nobody's guaranteed a start, nobody's got a privilege to play in the Australian cricket team. They've got to be producing the goods and giving us ammunition to play."

Arthur, a member of Australia's five-man selection panel, will help decide on Ponting's immediate future on Tuesday.

Australia begin the four-Test series against India with the traditional Boxing Day game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on 26 December.

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