|With his captaincy in doubt, Ponting may have played his last Ashes Test [GALLO/GETTY]
Australia captain Ricky Ponting's disastrous Ashes campaign suffered a final blow when his broken finger ruled him out of the final Test in Sydney.
Ponting, who has seen a third Ashes series go begging after losing the urn in England in 2005 and 2009 and allowing the English to retain the trophy in this series, said he was "devastated" to be ruled out.
The Tasmanian had undertaken an x-ray after Australia's defeat in the fourth Test in Melbourne, with results indicating that his fracture had moved over the course of the match and would need immediate treatment.
"I'm devastated to tell you the truth, it was the news I was dreading," Ponting told reporters at Sydney airport.
"During the game I didn't think I'd done too much more to it."
Ponting broke the little finger on his left hand attempting a catch during the third test in Perth, but played in the next match in Melbourne, which England won to retain the Ashes and take a 2-1 lead into the final match.
Vice captain Michael Clarke will lead the side in Sydney on Monday with uncapped Usman Khawaja, a Pakistan-born opening batsman who plays for New South Wales, making his Test debut in taking Ponting's spot at number three.
The 24-year-old Khawaja and paceman Doug Bollinger were included in a 12-man squad named on Thursday, with Bollinger added as a replacement for Ryan Harris, who has a left ankle injury requiring surgery and could be out for four months.
Team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said Ponting would face surgery or "aggressive splinting and immobilisation" and a decision on what course to take would be made within 24 hours after consultation with a specialist.
He would not be expected to be able to start training until the later part of the Australian summer, but would be expected to be fully fit for the World Cup in February, Kountouris said.
Ponting's omission will be guaranteed to fuel speculation about the future of his captaincy, with former cricketers and pundits calling for the 36-year-old to step down in the wake of his third failed Ashes series.
Ponting said retirement was the last thing on his mind.
"I'm not thinking about it at all," he said.
The second-most prolific run-scorer in Test history, Ponting has been in woeful form with the bat in the series, averaging just 16 and scoring only a single half-century on the final afternoon of the drawn first Test in Brisbane.