Ponting out of final test

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SYDNEY, December 30 – Australian captain Ricky Ponting said Thursday he was not considering retirement after being ruled out of next week's fifth Ashes Test against England with a broken finger.X-rays revealed that Ponting had suffered further damage to a fractured little finger suffered earlier in the series while playing in the fourth Melbourne Test, which England won by an innings and 157 runs to retain the Ashes on Wednesday.

Ponting said he was devastated to be missing the final Test and was adamant retirement was not on his mind.

"I’m devastated to tell you the truth, it was the news I was dreading," Ponting said.

"During the game I didn’t think I’d done too much more to it."

Despite the injury setback, which means Ponting’s next chance to play a Test may not come before August next year, he said he was adamant he was not thinking of quitting.

"I’m not thinking about it at all," he told reporters.

Michael Clarke was named captain in Ponting’s absence to lead Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Monday, with Pakistan-born Usman Khawaja and Doug Bollinger the new faces in a 12-man squad named late Thursday.

Ponting, who fractured his left little finger while attempting a slips catch in the third Test in Perth, has been under immense pressure after becoming the only Australian skipper to fail to win the Ashes three times.

There was speculation during the fourth Test that Ponting’s time might be up after a run of low scores and disciplinary issues in the twilight of a celebrated playing career.

Ponting, 36, Test cricket’s second-greatest run-scorer behind India’s Sachin Tendulkar, has had a dire series, making just 113 runs in eight innings at an average of 16, prompting calls for his removal as captain.

"Ricky Ponting had a repeat X-ray after the fourth Test which showed evidence that the fracture of his fifth (left) finger has moved during the course of the Melbourne Test," team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said in a statement.

"As such he needs to commence treatment immediately to achieve a satisfactory outcome.

"The treatment options include surgery or aggressive splinting and immobilisation of the injured finger."

Kountouris said a decision on Ponting’s treatment will be made in the next 24 hours, after further consultation with the hand specialist.

"His return to cricket will be based on how quickly the fracture heals and he will hopefully commence training in the later part of the Australian summer," he added.

"He is expected to be fully fit for the (February’s) ICC Cricket World Cup."

England are chasing their first series win in Australia in 24 years in the Sydney Test.

England last won a Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 2003 by 225 runs under Michael Vaughan’s leadership.

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