Ricky Ponting shortlists three batsmen: The former Australian captain expects one out of these three names to play Ashes 2021-22.
Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting is unperturbed by Australia’s lack of match-practice ahead of Ashes 2021-22. While Australia would have played plentiful white-ball cricket before and after ICC T20 World Cup 2021, not playing enough first-class cricket is being assumed as a concern for many.
Other than a one-off Test against Afghanistan in Hobart in November, Australia won’t have any other Test before the first Ashes Test scheduled to begin from December 8 in Brisbane. In such a scenario, Sheffield Shield 2021-22 matches will hold mighty importance especially for their Test specialists.
“I honestly don’t think it matters that much. If they get a bit of first-class cricket in and they get that one Test match in against Afghanistan, are you better off going into the Ashes series with not a lot or going in with a lot [of Tests]?
“Ashes series are so physically and mentally draining; you might be better off going in with less. But it doesn’t matter what you’re going in with, it’s about what you do in those big moments, as we saw with the India series,” Ponting was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.
Ricky Ponting shortlists three batsmen for middle-order role in Ashes later this year
Australia, who by and large have a confirmed Playing XI (considering no injury) for the iconic series, will have to work thoroughly on their vacant No. 5 spot. With Matthew Wade not making the number his own and now been left out of the list of centrally contracted players, expect the Aussies to field someone else in the middle-order.
Being asked about the same, Ponting shortlisted three batsmen namely former vice-captain Travis Head, Marcus Harris and Moises Henriques.
In three innings for Sussex in County Championship, Head has managed to score just 37 runs at an average of 12.33. Having said that, the southpaw was the second-highest run-scorer in the recent concluded Sheffield Shield season amassing 893 runs in 14 innings at 68.69 and comprising of three centuries and as many half-centuries.
“I think Travis [Head] will play some more [Test cricket]. I think that’s probably his slot in the middle order now, so let’s hope he can make the most of it,” Ponting said.
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Much like Head, Harris was also among the top run-getters in Sheffield Shield with his 695 runs coming at 63.18 including two centuries and a half-century. Currently representing Leicestershire in county cricket, Harris had opened up on being open to bat in the middle-order a week ago.
“[But] Marcus Harris is someone who can bat there as well, I don’t think he needs to open. If he shows that he’s good enough and scores enough runs in domestic cricket as an opener, then I think he can bat in the middle order quite easily,” Ponting said of the Victorian southpaw.
As far as Henriques is concerned, the 34-year old player’s 633 runs in 11 innings had come at 70.33 with the help of three centuries and two half-centuries. Henriques, whose last Test dates back to 2016, can also be a useful bowling option alongside Cameron Green.
“I think they’ve just got to work on who their best player is and if it’s Harris, if it’s Head, if it’s [Moises] Henriques – work out who it is and give them a chance there.
“That probably just going to come down to weight of runs. Out of those three guys, I think one of them will be batting in the middle,” Ponting mentioned.