RICKY Ponting hasn't broken into a run since tweaking his hamstring, but the champion batsman has declared he will be ready at the Gabba on Friday to show Dale Steyn he has banished the technical gremlins that threatened to end his career a year ago.
Ponting was limited to throw-downs and slips catches at Monday's training session. But the 37-year-old said he was on track to play in the first Test, in which he will be re-acquainted with Steyn and Vernon Philander, who conspired to dismiss him lbw in three out of four innings in South Africa last year.
Steyn rated his ball to conquer Ponting for a duck in the first innings in Johannesburg as the most satisfying wicket of his career, but for the former Australian captain it was one of the lowest moments.
''It was technical. You don't go from playing the way I was playing to being hit on the pad as often as I was without something being wrong,'' Ponting recalled last Friday.
''The frustrating thing for me through that period was I identified it really early in the series, and was working hard on trying to rectify it, and still getting out the same way.
''I'm doing things a bit different at training and some of the things I'm working on have made me feel a lot better balanced at the crease. I'm certainly not getting hit on the pad as much as I was 12 months ago.''
Now it's his body, not the selectors, he has to worry about.
Ponting hurt his hamstring when he slipped while turning for a run at Bellerive Oval, which has just been re-surfaced, last Friday. He was withdrawn from Tasmania's Sheffield Shield game against South Australia as a precaution and is expected to play against the Proteas but still has to prove his fitness.
''I was running on the edge of the wicket and the grass is really lush, I was just about to turn in and over-strided and slipped,'' he said.
''When I pushed off to get back to the other end as quick as I could, I felt a little tweak in my hammy and it started to ache, and every time I lifted my foot off the ground I could feel a twinge in the lower part of my hamstring. The scan was pretty good and it's been pretty positive since.
''I did everything that was required today and I've been pretty confident about it the last three days since the end of the shield game. I didn't do any running today, I'll ramp things up tomorrow and bat against the bowlers tomorrow and top things up on Thursday, but so far I'm very positive [I'll be right to play].''
Ponting dismissed the suggestion a hamstring twinge could be a warning sign for a batsman of his age, and blamed Tasmania's packed early-season schedule and the new, soft Bellerive surface for the injury.
''The last four months my body has been absolutely perfect, I have not had a niggle,'' he said. ''If anything the amount of cricket we played in a short period of time for Tassie was pretty hard.''
The Tigers played back-to-back shield and one-day fixtures against Victoria and South Australia. ''If anything that's probably what caught up with me. The only thing I could put my finger on is the Bellerive surface has just been re-laid as well and we ran on soft, sandy ground for a couple of days.''