Australian captain Michael Clarke has thrown his support behind under-pressure Ricky Ponting, saying the former skipper still has a future at Test level despite a dismal run of form.
Under a revamp to the way the team is run, Clarke now sits on the selection committee and he returns from South Africa Wednesday with some immediate issues to resolve ahead of the first Test against New Zealand on December 1.
Central to this is the form of Ponting, with calls for the 36-year-old to either be dropped or quit, although his fighting 62 against South Africa on Sunday -- his first knock of more than 50 in 15 innings -- helped his cause.
After watching Ponting's match-turning knock, Clarke is expected to demand his predecessor as captain be selected to face New Zealand when he formally convenes with the new selectors.
They include Mickey Arthur, who was appointed head coach on Tuesday, along with John Inverarity, Rod Marsh and Andy Bichel.
Clarke told the Sydney Daily Telegraph that Ponting had more to offer Australian cricket, despite averaging just 20 in the past year.
"I've made it clear that Ricky Ponting has been a large part of the last bit of success we've had in Sri Lanka and South Africa, and I'd love to see that continue," Clarke said.
"Ricky has 39 Test hundreds and the best batting statistics apart from (Don) Bradman as an Australian player -- if that doesn't prove something, I don't know what does.
"His work ethic, what he gives to the team off the field.... I'd love to see him making more runs like all of us, but he's been a great contributor to the team on and off the field. I'd love to see that continue."
Ponting has been in the Australian set-up since 1995, scoring 12,557 runs in 156 Tests.