London - Ricky Ponting has revealed he might not be able to resist the lure of the Ashes if Australia asked him to come out of Test retirement.
The combative 38-year-old, who quit the international scene in December, is the most successful captain in Test history but lost three Ashes series including the last time the two teams met in 2011 when England won 3-1 away.
The latest five-match battle against England starts at Trent Bridge on July 10 and if an Australian batsman was to break a finger, the Tasmanian would be torn.
"They will have reserve batsmen around should anything like that happen so I don't think they will be needing me," Ponting told Britain's Daily Mail newspaper on Wednesday.
"You wouldn't say no, would you, if that call came and I would never say never, but you have to say a call-up like that now is extremely unlikely."
Even if he does not return, his influence may still be felt in the Ashes with Ponting in England playing for county side Surrey.
"If Michael Clarke wants to run anything by me he knows where I am. There's nothing official in place but I'll only be down the road," added the scorer of 13 378 Test runs, who is looking forward to his two-month stint in the English game.
"My wife is still asking me when I will be through with all this cricket stuff. I've actually been away from home more than ever. I know I'll have to slow down at some point."
For the first time in many years, Australia go into the Ashes as big underdogs after a 4-0 mauling in India where four players were dropped for "not doing their homework".
Ponting said he did not totally agree with the decision but feels Australia are regaining confidence.
"Our batting is key, if it can stand up to the English bowling then we will be competitive. We have a good, solid number of bowlers and our young quicks are really exciting," he remarked before turning to England.
"(Captain Alistair Cook) is proving he is a worthy successor to Andrew Strauss. Joe Root looks a good player, Jonny Bairstow has something about him and when Kevin Pietersen is fit England will get a world class player again. They are a quality side."
There was no word on England's struggling opener Nick Compton, who scored his first test centuries in New Zealand earlier in the year but has now scored only 54 runs in six innings despite England's 2-0 home win over the Black Caps.
With Pietersen set to return from injury for the Ashes, Compton could be the man to miss out as England coach Andy Flower piles on the pressure.
"He's got to go away and get back into form, score some heavy runs for Somerset," Flower told the BBC.