Australia coach Mickey Arthur believes the third Test match against South Africa in Perth could be a make or break match for veteran Ricky Ponting and could possibly decide his Ashes destiny.
Ponting, who turns 38 next month, has made scores of 0, 4 and 16 in three innings against South Africa and the mode of his dismissals in the drawn second Test in Adelaide leave him on the brink of being either asked to walk, or dropped.
"At the moment Ricky Ponting has the unanimous backing of the selection panel. We're hoping, we back Ricky, we unanimously back Ricky Ponting to get us some runs. By his own admission Perth is a big Test for him and that's by his own admission," the Age quoted Arthur, as saying.
"But Ricky's prepared brilliantly, he's really given us everything we can possibly ask for, he'll leave no stone unturned in his preparation going into Perth and I'm backing him for a big score in Perth, no doubt about that," he added.
There has been speculation that the ex-captain could, with the nudging of selectors, choose to retire and play his final Test, against Sri Lanka, in his home state of Tasmania next month.
Of course, the subject will be off the table should Ponting manage a big score in Perth, and that is exactly what Arthur is hoping he can do.
"All I know is inside that dressing room and privately we've all backed Ricky Ponting," Arthur said.
"If Ricky's scoring runs we certainly want Ricky Ponting around for the next six months. We want Ricky Ponting to go to the Ashes, there's no doubt about that," he added.
"Like any batsman though you've got to keep scoring runs, and that's by Ricky's own admission. I'm 100 per cent sure though and confident Ricky will come through in Perth," he said. (ANI)