Coach Mickey Arthur open minded about Ponting's replacement
RICKY Ponting reckons four players are in the mix to fill his role in the Australian Test batting line-up.
But coach Mickey Arthur is keeping his cards close to his chest when it comes to naming Ponting's replacement.
Ponting said Rob Quiney, Phil Hughes and Usman Khawaja were frontrunners to replace him but fellow Tasmanian Alex Doolan also had a hope.
Arthur said while national selectors might have someone in mind, nothing had been decided.
"We haven't even discussed it yet," he said.
"So I am obviously putting a personal opinion and without wanting to name names, it will probably be a guy who can come in and bat three, possibly a move for Watto (Shane Watson) to four, it just looks right and just gives us a little bit of stability.
"But again ultimately Michael (Clarke) and I, once we see who that guy is, and we have got it in our minds who we think the guy is, we still need to discuss that as a selection panel and then sit down in Hobart next Monday when we arrive there and make a decision on what our preferred batting order is going to be."
Whoever comes in for the former captain in the first Test against Sri Lanka at Hobart starting next Friday has enormous shoes to fill.
But Arthur said it was important the new man helped provide a platform to allow the likes of skipper Clarke and veteran Michael Hussey to continue to shine in the middle order.
"(Ed) Cowan and (David) Warner have showed us glimpses in this series (against South Africa) but we need a lot more consistency from our top four because we know at five and six we have the best batsman in the world and Mr Cricket," he said.
"We know that we are really well covered at five and six.
"We just need one, two, three and four to be giving us a really good platform.
"And that's something we will have a look at.
"But when you're looking at Cowan and you're looking at Warner and whoever comes in again and then Watto, there's not a massive amount of Test caps there.
"Obviously take Watto aside we have got to give those guys some time to grow and be a little bit consistent."
Next week is the one-year anniversary of Australia's Test loss to New Zealand at Hobart but Arthur reckons following on from another devastating defeat in Perth, the Australians had come a long way.
"As a Test unit we can take a lot of pride in what we have done in the past year," he said.
"I certainly think we are in a far better place than we were this time last year.
"We have got to keep building. We have got a big series against Sri Lanka then a really tough series in India followed by the ultimate and that's the Ashes.
"We have got to make sure we have got a settled unit and we are ready for the big Tests ahead but I am very happy we are heading in the right direction."