Cricket: Hussey, Ponting rule out Ashes return

Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey Wednesday ruled out shock comebacks to the Australian Test ranks for the Ashes tour of England after the team's troubled series in India. With Australia 3-0 down in India and the first of back-to-back Ashes series rapidly approaching, coach Mickey Arthur has indicated he would be open to Hussey returning to the national set-up. But the 37-year-old, who bowed out of Test cricket in January, said while he was flattered to be considered, he had retired from the international game. "It's extremely flattering," said the 79-Test veteran, who has been in fine form for Western Australia in the domestic Sheffield Shield. "But I've moved on and I really don't want to be back in that pressure-cooker environment, particularly leading into the Ashes. "It's going to be an extremely stressful time for all the boys. I'm really looking forward to having a winter at home and just having some time with the family and being part of some normal life." On top of trailing the series in India, there has been massive upheaval in the team with the suspensions of Shane Watson, James Pattinson, Usman Khawaja and Mitchell Johnson for indiscipline. Vice-captain Watson has returned to the fold after being axed for one Test but skipper Michael Clarke remains short of experience leading into the Ashes, having leaned heavily on Ponting until he called it quits last December. Like Hussey, Ponting has been in sparkling form since quitting international cricket in December after 17 years and 168 Tests and was Wednesday named the Sheffield Shield player of the year. But the 38-year-old also ruled out a return to the Australian team. "International cricket's long passed me by," he said in his Sheffield Shield acceptance speech. Hussey suggested Twenty20 captain George Bailey could be a good addition to the Test team for the Ashes. "He's done well in the one-day arena for Australia and he knows his game pretty well," Hussey told reporters. "He's played a lot of first-class cricket, and having that understanding of your own game is really important when you come into the pressure-cooker situation of a Test match." Two editions of the Ashes series against Australia are being played back-to-back this year to avoid a clash with the 2015 World Cup, with the first beginning on July 10. mp/mfc/ac

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