Melbourne: Coach Mickey Arthur believes Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey still have a lot to offer to Australian cricket and they would be part of the playing XI in the first Test against India, starting on December 26.

While Ponting, who would be turning 37 on December 19, has failed to score a hundred in 31 innings in almost two years, 36-year-old Hussey has also been completely out of form for a while now.

However, Arthur, who is also a selector, said that the new selection panel is yet to discuss about the exits of Ponting and Hussey.

"We're certainly not managing yet how they (Ponting and Hussey) go out of the side. In my opinion they've still got big roles to play because we do need some experience within our middle order, there's no doubt about it," said Arthur.

"They bring that experience that we need. We haven't even come to any thought on how we manage any exit on any of those players. The key for us is the get them up firing," he said.

Despite Ponting's poor form, Arthur felt that the former skipper fits into Australia's scheme of things.

"I think he (Ponting) should (play on). I've had a chat already to (selector) Rod Marsh...we're trying to give ourselves a bit of direction to Boxing Day. I still think Ricky fits very firmly in that picture," insisted Arthur.

Meanwhile, Shane Watson is likely to return to the team for the India series and reclaim his opening spot from Phillip Hughes, who may be dropped.

"It's been speculated a huge amount. I think we've got to come to a point now where we make a decision on where Shane is going to bat in the batting order, and how many overs we expect of Shane so there can be no more debate around the issue.

"We probably need to give him role definition before the Test match," revealed Arthur.

(Agencies)