Sydney, Feb 7 (AFP) Ricky Ponting has endured a troubledbuild-up to his quest for a fourth consecutive World Cup crownand his third title as Australia captain.
Ponting earned the dubious distinction as the onlyAustralian skipper to fail to win the Ashes three times in therecent home Test series against England amid calls for him tobe replaced as captain.
Complicating the issue was a broken little finger thatforced the 36-year-old out of the fifth Sydney Ashes Test andalso from the entire seven-game one-day series againstEngland, leaving him well short of match fitness for the WorldCup.
Ponting only resumed training at the start of the monthfollowing surgery after the Boxing Day Melbourne Test match.
"I think I''m going to have that (pain) for a while totell you the truth. I don''t think it''s going to be one ofthose things that goes away altogether," Ponting said.
In Ponting''s absence, deputy Michael Clarke led theAustralians to an emphatic 6-1 ODI series victory over Englandto give the World Cup champions a boost after the post-Ashesdespondency.
As captain Ponting is unbeaten in all his 22 matches incharge.
But given the scrutiny Ponting is now under in the wakeof the Australia''s badly-received first Ashes series defeat athome for 24 years, only victory in the World Cup might buy himmore time as national captain.
"I feel I am well equipped to bring on some young guysand we have got a few of them in the side now," Ponting said.
"I want to keep playing, I would love to keep leading theteam, I still think I''ve got a lot to offer in both thoseregards."
Ponting said he wanted to be known for more than justbeing the Australian captain who lost the Ashes three times.
"The fact that I''ve lost those three series isdisappointing for me," he said.
"Hopefully, I''m not only remembered as the guy who lostthree Ashes series. There''s lots of other great things I''vebeen lucky to be able to be part of as a player throughout mycareer."
A fit Ponting will give the Australians a boost inconfidence heading into the World Cup.
He is tied with former teammate Glenn McGrath with themost World Cup matches on 39, scoring 1,537 runs at 48.03.
Ponting ranks as one of contemporary cricket''s greatestbatsmen, and ranks second only to Sachin Tendulkar (1,796) formost World Cup career runs.
Ponting said he is hoping that he be able to play inAustralia''s two practice games before their opening World Cupmatch against Zimbabwe on February 21. AFP SSC