Melbourne: Australia coach Mickey Arthur on Tuesday made it clear that nobody is assured of a place in the national side and senior cricketers like Ricky Ponting will have to perform to be in the reckoning for the first Test against India, starting December 26.

Arthur said Ponting remains vital to the development of Australia`s Test side and hoped the former skipper returns to form as soon as possible.

"I don`t think anybody is guaranteed a start," Arthur said.

"Ricky Ponting is really vital to where we want to take this team so we`re really hoping he finds his form and hopefully his form is just around the corner.

"We`ll discuss that again tonight and make sure we`ve got all our bases covered in terms of selection," he added.

Ponting and middle-order batsman Michael Hussey have been struggling for runs for sometime but all hell broke loss after they failed to save Australia from the ignominy of losing to New Zealand at Hobart -- their first defeat in 18 years.

However, Arthur still considers Ponting and Hussey key to Australia`s future success due to their middle-order experience.

"I have backed Ricky Ponting like I`ve backed Mike Hussey for a period of time because I think they`re crucial for the development of the side," Arthur said.

"For our young guys to bat with guys like that is fantastic, but again they need to keep giving us ammunition.

"They need to keep giving us performances. Nobody has got a privilege to play in the Australian cricket team. They are the type of characters that we want in our side, most definitely," he said.

In his past 16 Tests, Ponting has averaged 27.48 and has not scored a century. He made 62 in Johannesburg and 78 at the Gabba over the past month but his dismissals in both innings at Bellerive Oval were clumsy.