Injured Ricky sits out finale

But Ponting has no plans to retire despite Ashes failure

Ricky Ponting said today he was "devastated" to be ruled out of the fifth and final Ashes Test against England in Sydney next week due to complications with his broken finger.

The Australian captain had undergone an X-ray after Australia's defeat in the fourth test in Melbourne with results indicating that his fracture had moved over the course of the match and would need immediate treatment, the team said earlier in a statement.

"I'm devastated to tell you the truth, it was the news I was dreading," Ponting said at Sydney airport.

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

Ponting broke the little finger on his left hand attempting a catch during the third test in Perth, but played under some discomfort in the next match in Melbourne, which England won to retain the Ashes and take a 2-1 lead into the final test.


Vice-captain Michael Clarke will lead the side in Sydney with uncapped Usman Khawaja, a Pakistan-born opening batsman who plays for New South Wales, to take Ponting's spot at number three.

Wicketkeeper Brad Haddin has been named as vice-captain for the match, while Cameron White will take on that role for the one-day and Twenty20 internationals.

Team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said Ponting would face surgery or "aggressive splinting and immobilisation" and a decision on what course to take would be made within 24 hours after consultation with a specialist.

He would not be expected to be able to start training until the latter part of the Australian summer, but would be expected to be fully fit for the World Cup in February, Kountouris said.

Ponting's omission will be guaranteed to fuel speculation about the future of his captaincy, with former cricketers and pundits calling for the 36-year-old to step down in the wake of his third failed Ashes series.

Ponting, who also conceded the urn on tours in 2005 and last year, said retirement was the last thing on his mind.

"I'm not thinking about it at all," he said.

The Tasmanian remains the most successful Australian captain of all time and is the second-most prolific run-scorer in Test history, but he has been in woeful form with the bat in the series, averaging just 16 and scoring only a single half-century on the final afternoon of the drawn first test in Brisbane.


Australian chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch said: "With Ricky being unavailable for this match we are sure that both Michael and Brad will lead this Australian side with great professionalism and the full support of the team as we strive for a victory in Sydney.

"We look forward to Ricky completing his recovery and leading this team to a fourth successive ICC Cricket World Cup on the sub-continent at the completion of the Australian summer.

"Usman Khawaja will make his debut for Australia in this match, something we are excited about given his tremendous form at domestic level over the past two seasons.

"The unfortunate injury to Ryan Harris during the fourth Test has provided the opportunity for Doug Bollinger to return to the Australian squad.

"The final side will be decided after we have had the opportunity to assess the wicket and the conditions in the following days at the SCG."