Melbourne:Australian Ricky Ponting wants national selectors to make up their mind at the earliest about who would fill in the big shoes of retired opener Matthew Hayden for the crucial tour of South Africa.
"I don't reckon (the selectors) will pick two openers (in addition to Simon Katich). I think they should make their mind up now and pick whoever they think is going to be the best selection for South Africa and possibly for the Ashes tour as well," Ponting said.
The Australian squad for the three-Test tour of South Africa will be announced on Thursday with young Phillip Hughes and Phil Jaques vying for the opener's job alongside Simon Katich.
The 20-year-old Hughes has an impressive double of 151 and 82 not out in the recent Sheffield Shield win over Tasmania, while Jaques, 29, made a century in his most recent Test before being sidelined by injury.
"Phillip (Hughes) has done absolutely everything in his power to give himself the best chance to be picked. His record for New South Wales in the last couple of years has been outstanding," Ponting was quoted as saying by the 'Herald' on Wednesday.
Ponting also acknowledged that Jaques had a strong case to regain his Test berth, having made 902 runs in 11 Tests at an average of 47.47.
"Obviously one thing in Phil's favour is his Test experience and his Test record behind him. He did nothing wrong in the games he played when he came into the side and he made a hundred in his last game," he said.