19 Mar 2010

Ponting says North will play in Test

6:11 am on 19 March 2010

Skipper Ricky Ponting says out-of-form batsman Marcus North will hold his place in the Australian side for the first cricket Test against New Zealand starting at the Basin Reserve this morning.

Ponting says the talented NSW youngster Steven Smith, who is also in the squad for the two-Test series, will just have to wait a little longer.

North has scored only 294 runs at 24.50 in Shield cricket this summer and averaged 10.25 in the recent home Test series against Pakistan.

Ponting says he's confident North will have a big game at the Basin Reserve, where the pitch is expected to have good pace and bounce for the quick bowlers.

Ponting says vice-captain Michael Clarke is in good shape mentally despite a massive disruption last week when he went home to Sydney and broke off his engagement.

Australia are sweating on the fitness of Queensland pace bowler Ryan Harris, who is set to make his debut if he can prove he has overcome a side muscle strain.

The Northern Districts pace bowler Brent Arnel is expected to make his debut for New Zealand.

Play starts at 11.