Former captain Ricky Ponting says only three Australia batters are sure for the start of the home summer as the others have been going through rough patches in the ongoing Ashes Test series. He said Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne and David Warner, despite having a dismal show in the Ashes series, are the players who will surely play in the first Test at the Gabba against Pakistan, starting November 12.
Smith (125.16) and Labuschagne (56.50) are the only two batsmen to average more than 28 in the Ashes series, and keeping the disappointing performance of the middle order in mind, Ponting would like to see young Will Pucovski in the squad on the home soil.
“Warner’s going to be a lock,” Ricky Ponting told cricket.com.au. “I don’t care if he gets another duck in the second innings of this Test match, he’s going to be a lock for the Australian summer. Marnus is an absolute lock. Smith’s a lock.”
He further shared that there are still question marks on Matthew Wade and Travis Head’s inclusion. However, Tim Paine will continue to lead the side. He would love to see Pucovski as he has done well while playing for Australia A squad but didn’t get an opportunity yet. He is preferable for number 6 in the playing XI.
Pucovski has a brilliant first-class career, scoring three centuries, including 243 against Western Australia last summer as a part of the Victoria’s successful Sheffield Shield campaign. He was in the Test squad that took on Sri Lanka on home soil last year and scored a century for Australia A in a 50-over game against Gloucestershire in July before playing in the four-day intra-squad clash ahead of the Ashes.
However, Ponting is confident of a series win in the Ashes. Although they need another heroic from Steve Smith, who has scored a whopping 751 runs in just six innings.
“Steven Smith has been outstanding, they’re going to need him to get 150 at least in the second innings if they are to chase these runs down,” Ponting said. “The one bit of confidence I can take is the wicket hasn’t really played too many tricks today. It will spin, (England left-arm spinner Jack) Leach will pose some questions to the left-handers, I don’t think he’ll be too difficult to the right-handers.”
However, Aussies had a bad day in the office so far while fielding. The failed to grab multiple catches and struggled again with the Decision Review System. However, he has backed his players.
“They’ve just been sloppy,” Ponting said. “Talking to Justin (Langer, Australia men’s head coach) before the game, he was really comfortable with the way they’ve trained and prepared. He said they probably trained better than they had for any other Test match coming into this one,” he concluded.