Melbourne: Under pressure to retire following his prolonged lean patch, veteran batsman Ricky Ponting has vowed to fight for his place in the Australian Test team ahead of the upcoming series against New Zealand.
Ponting is coming off a lean 24 months with the bat, averaging just 14 in his 13 innings before scoring a crucial 62 against South Africa in Johannesburg this week.
"Of course (I want to keep playing). I really enjoy it and always have," Ponting said after arriving home from South Africa.
"It's a great team to be a part of at the moment. I want to be around and hopefully be able to have some sort of impact on the way the team plays. If I keep doing my job, then hopefully I'll keep getting picked."
The former skipper has not scored a Test century since January last year, but his gritty knock in Australia's record-breaking chase in the second Test in Johannesburg convinced the 37-year-old he deserves his spot.
"When you know that you can contribute to wins, that's what it's all about I guess. I felt I had a part to play in the second game," Ponting, who is considered Australia's greatest batsman after Don Bradman, was quoted as saying by The Age.
Test captain Michael Clarke backed Ponting to keep his place, saying he still has a lot to offer to Australian cricket if he can build on his most recent innings.
"If I thought that Ricky Ponting or Mitchell Johnson couldn't perform at this level, I wouldn't be supporting them as I have done," Clarke said. "I've been watching Ricky bat in the nets - I know he's in good nick. Under pressure the other night, he did that, but the reality is that he needs to perform better than he has done of late to stay in the team."
Ponting was pleased to hear he had the support of the skipper.
"It's nice to know the guys that you go into battle with every week are looking out for you," he said.
Former India coach Greg Chappell, who was recently sacked as Cricket Australia selector after a reported fall-out with the senior players, believes that Ponting should be retained until the regeneration of the Australian team is further advanced.
"I don't want to see him retire. I think he's an important cog in the regeneration of the Australian side," said Chappell.
"You don't discard champions lightly, they're hard to find, and when you've got one who's still committed and keen to play his part in Australian cricket, I'd be giving him a bit more time yet."