Australia captain Ricky Ponting appeared untroubled by his broken finger when he batted in the nets at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Friday ahead of the fourth Ashes test against England.
Ponting, who injured the little finger on his left hand when attempting a catch in the third test in Perth, practised against a bowling machine indoors then went outside to face a raft of different bowlers on a sunny morning in Melbourne.
"He said it felt pretty good after facing some balls on the machines and facing some bowlers," vice captain Michael Clarke told reporters after the training session.
"Obviously we're all very hopeful and pretty confident that, unless they cut his finger off, it's going to be really hard to leave Punter (Ponting) out.
"I think he's going to have to wait until tomorrow and see how it pulls up after having a bat today, but he's pretty happy about how things went."
Clarke said Ponting would forfeit his usual spot in the slips and play either mid-on or mid-off should he be deemed fit to play in the test starting on Sunday. "As long as you're pretty close to seeing the line which the bowlers are bowling, it's probably better for the bowlers that (he's) there to be able to talk to them as well." After losing the second test in Adelaide, Australia levelled the five-test series with an emphatic 267-run win in the Third test in Perth.
Holders England need only to draw the Test series to be the first since Mike Gatting's in 1986/87 to take the Ashes home from Australia.