Limited overs skipper Aaron Finch should open the batting along with uncapped Marcus Harris for Australia in the upcoming four-Test series against India, feels former captain Ricky Ponting. India will take on Australia in the opening Test starting at Adelaide on December 6 and Ponting said on Monday that Usman Khawaja would do well at No.3.
“He’s (Finch) had a lot of success around the world opening the batting in T20s and one day internationals – if he can go in with a similar mindset and not worry too much about opening the batting in a Test match in Australia against the red ball, I’m sure he’ll have some success,” Ponting was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.
Finch is set to bat down the order for Victoria in a Shield match from Tuesday as both Victoria captain Handscomb and coach Andrew McDonald have hinted not to break their incumbent opening partnership of Harris and Travis Dean. However, Ponting said Victoria should allow Finch to open the batting for the Shield match.
“Victoria don’t want to break up their opening partnership – I think they should for Aaron Finch’s benefit. I think they should let him open for one game and slide Travis Dean down. Just to give him red ball (practice) opening the batting before he goes into the Test match,” Ponting said. “Finch is a bit of an anomaly really that the last few years he’s done most of his batting for Victoria in the middle order. Then because they go to the UAE where conditions probably weren’t going to be that new-ball friendly they gave him the chance to open.
“So he deserves to stay in the team and open.” Harris has amassed 437 runs at an average of 87 in four Shield games this summer and Ponting threw his weight behind him for the other opener’s slot.
“I remember when he first came into the WA side, speaking to Justin Langer about him and he thought he was potentially an Australian player in the making,” Ponting said.
“Things didn’t really work out for him in WA (but) he decides to move to Victoria and his last few seasons have been very good.
“No batsmen have really dominated domestic Sheffield Shield cricket over the last few years but if you look at the numbers and the way he’s performed this year, he deserves his chance to be opening the batting.” Heaping praise on Khawaja, Ponting said the batsman’s superb innings in the drawn Test against Pakistan was just the beginning and he would do well no matter where he bats for Australia.
“I’ve been a huge fan of Khawaja’s for a long time, probably outspokenly so, a lot of people have been quite critical of him over the years,” Ponting said.
“Sometimes there’s guys you just have to stick with, you just have to pick them and give them a go. I know he had a bad run in the subcontinent but so did I, for the first part of my career. In the UAE, he played one of the all-time great rear-guard innings an Australian has ever played.”
Australia Squad (vs India): Tim Paine (C & wk), Aaron Finch, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood (vc), Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh (vc), Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Starc, Chris Tremain, Peter Siddle.
(With PTI Inputs)