Ponting: Pattinson a must for Boxing Day Test
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Ricky Ponting has backed James Pattinson to fill the void left by Josh Hazlewood's injury should he miss the Boxing Day Test as expected.
Hazlewood suffered a low-grade hamstring tear on day two of the first Test opening the door for Pattinson and fellow squad seamer Michael Neser.
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However Ponting believes Pattinson has the runs on the board and deserves to play his first Test since the third match of Australia's victorious Ashes campaign.
"James Pattinson is the obvious one to come in," Ponting told cricket.com.au.
"I think the Australians would have been tossing up whether to play Pattinson or Starc in the first Test in Brisbane and then 'Patto' ruled himself out with that suspension that he got.
"Neser has been around the squad but I think going into Melbourne, Patto's home ground, he's played a lot of cricket there, he probably understands the conditions better than Michael Neser does.
"He's the obvious one and I think he will play."
Ponting played in Pattinson's first Test debut against New Zealand at the Gabba back in 2011 where the 21-year-old kicked off his international career in style, with 5-27 in the second innings.
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The former Test skipper believes Pattinson's aggressive style will suit the match-up with New Zealand's patient batting group.
"I've liked him from the start of his career," Ponting said.
"I was lucky enough to play in his first Test match and he's just like a big bull, charging in and wants to bowl fast.
"He's aggressive and has the ability to swing the new ball as well.
"If he does come into the side he might not take the new ball - that would be given to Starc and Cummins you'd imagine - but I love his competitiveness and the fact that he'll just keep coming and coming.
"If you're batting against him you certainly know you're in the contest."
On the back of the Hazlewood injury Australia may consider an all-rounder for the final two Tests of the series on the notoriously flatter MCG and SCG surfaces.
Mitchell Marsh is close to a return from his hand injury, but Ponting doubts he will be ready in time for the Melbourne Test.
"The obvious choice, Mitchell Marsh, is out injured as we know so they'll have to look long and hard to find someone that's ready to play a Test match," Ponting said.
"It might just mean when they get to Melbourne guys like Labuschagne has to do a lot more bowling and play as a spinning-all-rounder as opposed to picking a fast-bowling all-rounder.
"Stoinis is probably the only one around the traps at the moment who could come in, Cam Green we've been talking about for a while but he's not bowling because of an injury.
"Jack Wildermuth is barely playing for Queensland so Stoinis is the obvious one but I think that would be unlikely."