Legendary cricketer Ricky Ponting has predicted some surprise inclusions in the Australian squad for the World Test Championship (WTC) final and the Ashes in England from the one that is currently touring India. Australia secured a place in the WTC final at The Oval in June after collecting the required percentage points following their nine-wicket win against India in the third Border-Gavaskar Test at Indore recently.
The spin-friendly tracks in India had prompted Australia to pick a squad suited to the sub-continent’s conditions. They included Matt Renshaw and Peter Handscomb — two supposedly good players of spin — besides a clutch of spinners, including Nathan Lyon, Matthew Kuhnemann and Todd Murphy, for the series.
Ponting feels that with the English conditions not expected to be conducive to spinners, the selectors could opt for rookie pacers Lance Morris and Aaron Hardie for the two-month tour of England.
“Lance Morris is part of that (India) squad and maybe someone like Aaron Hardie (could be a surprise inclusion). I actually threw his (Hardie) name up when Cameron Green was going to miss that last Test (against South Africa due to finger injury) in Sydney,” Ponting told ICC Review on Wednesday.
“I threw Aaron Hardie’s name up as an all-rounder, a similar type of player to Green, not as quick with the ball, but a very good batsman who made a brilliant a hundred in the (domestic) Sheffield Shield final last year.” The legend felt that if all-rounder Mitchell Marsh returns to full fitness, he could get the nod ahead of Hardie.
“But his (Hardie) selection might depend on someone like Mitchell Marsh, if he’s back to full fitness, then he’s probably going to find his way on the plane to England as a back-up all-rounder for Cameron Green as well.” On whether Renshaw and Handscomb, two potentially good players of spin bowling, will be in the England-bound squad, Ponting said, “Matt Renshaw was picked on this (India) tour because everyone felt he was a good player of spin. Peter Handscomb was picked on this tour to India because he’s a good player of spin bowling.
“I think you’ve seen that through this series at different times. But when you think about the different set of conditions in the UK, then I wouldn’t be surprised if maybe neither of those guys are on that tour.
“I think there’s a good chance that Renshaw will be on that tour, but I’m not so sure about Handscomb and if he’ll make it to England or not.” Ponting, who played 168 Tests and 275 ODIs, also felt left-hand opening batter Marcus Harris could get a look-in for the English summer assignment.
“Someone like Marcus Harris might even get another opportunity back into that Ashes squad. He was part of the squads through the Australian summer without actually playing.” On the ongoing Test series against India, Ponting said his country’s players will take home a lot of positives. Australia currently trail 1-2 in the series but the former skipper said the team showed plenty of spirit in winning the third Test in Indore.
“I think all the spinners (have performed well) … and I think at different times, most of the batters have actually shown that they can cope and survive in those conditions.
“The quicks haven’t had a chance to bowl and Australia have had the guys coming in and out as well. But I think, Usman (Khawaja), Travis (Head), (Marnus) Labuschagne, (Steve) Smith and then all of the spinners that have played, I think there are some real positives there.
“It’s just a bit of a shame that it’s taken Australia to the start of the third Test match to find the right style of play.” Australia will play the fourth and final Test in Ahmedabad starting Thursday.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by String Reveals staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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