Ricky Ponting: Bancroft is the one that has got the runs on the board; I wouldn’t be surprised if selectors go that way
Former Australian captain and ICC Hall of Famer Ricky Ponting believes that Cameron Bancroft is leading the fight to replace Usman Khawaja and David Warner at the top of Australia’s Test batting order while Warner had earlier this year declared that he will be calling it quits on his illustrious Test career after the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) Test against Pakistan next year.
Former Australian captain and ICC Hall of Famer Ricky Ponting believes that Cameron Bancroft is leading the fight to replace Usman Khawaja and David Warner at the top of Australia’s Test batting order.
Warner had earlier this year declared that he would be calling it quits on his illustrious Test career after the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) Test against Pakistan next year. Many openers are vying for his spot in the Australian squad as he gets ready for the latter stage of his career in white clothing.
Although Matthew Renshaw and Marcus Harris have been utilized as backup batters on recent trips to England and India, Ponting believes Bancroft has risen to the top of the order due to his extraordinary domestic form in Australia over the last few years.
In Australia’s domestic Sheffield Shield competition during the summer of 2022–2023, the 31-year-old achieved four centuries and scored more runs than any other player. This season, he is again among the leading run scorers.
Bancroft finished as the leading run scorer with 945 runs at an average of 59.06 in 11 games, including four hundreds and a fifty.
Bancroft has scored 9,389 runs at an average of 39.12 in 261 innings during his first-class career. He has also scored 25 centuries and 33 fifties. 228* is his best score.
In 10 Tests, the batsman has amassed 446 runs at an average of 26.23, with just three fifties in 18 innings, which is not a particularly impressive record for an Australian white. His best score is 82*.
Bancroft hasn’t played for Australia since 2019, but Ponting anticipates that the in-form right-hander will get another opportunity to play for his country.
“If you look at those three guys, I think it is quite clear that Bancroft is the one that has got the runs on the board and I would not be surprised if they (selectors) go that way,”Ponting told Australian radio station SEN on Thursday as quoted by ICC.
“If you wind the clock back about six months it might have been a slightly different order than what it is now. I think they probably had Harris as the one that would come back in a while ago. To me now it sort of feels (there is) a bit more of a groundswell behind Cameron Bancroft getting first crack,”he added.
The legendary batsman also expects that all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, who had a fantastic Ashes series against England (250 runs with a century and fifty in six innings) and the ICC Cricket World Cup in India (441 runs in 10 innings with two hundred and fifty), will be in Australia’s playing XI, while fellow all-rounder Cameron Green will have to wait for his next opportunity.
“I think Cameron Green might just have to sit back and bide his time and wait for the opportunity to come back,”Ponting said.
“He can get a truckload of runs in Shield cricket and sort of force his way back into the side. Labuschagne has been outstanding at No.3 for Australia, it is very much a specialist position,”he added.
The first Test of Australia’s series against Pakistan is scheduled for December 14 in Perth, with matches in Melbourne and Sydney to follow matches against the West Indies will be played at home in January.
Australia is currently ranked third in the ICC World Test Championship rankings, with a share of the spoils against arch-rival England during the Ashes series earlier this year.
At a news conference on Wednesday in Lahore, Pakistan’s recently appointed Test skipper Shan Masood revealed the team’s batting order plan for the upcoming tour to Australia.
Masood highlighted Imam ul Haq and Abdullah Shafique’s long-lasting partnership as well as the consistency of the Test team.
“Our Test team has been a settled unit. The opening combination of Imam ul Haq and Abdullah Shafique has been representing Pakistan for more than a year now. They have given a lot of performances. After the retirement of Azhar Ali, I have mostly played at number three spot in domestic and international cricket. This is the top three in our plans,”Masood said.
“Babar Azam is our best batsman. No one would disturb his batting position, which is the number four spot. You make your team around the team’s best batsman,”he added.
“Saim Ayub is an exciting prospect and he has been rewarded for his attacking approach in domestic cricket. He will get a chance if needed,”Shan said.
The Pakistan Cricket Board elevated Test skipper Shan Masood’s contract on Thursday from ‘D’ to ‘B’ category, just hours after his squad departed for Australia for a Test series.
“The PCB has decided to upgrade Pakistan Test captain Shan Masood’s category in the central contract list from D to B,”the PCB said in a statement.
“The decision has been made in line with the board’s policy that if a centrally contracted player below A or B categories is appointed captain, their contract shall be upgraded to category B for the tenure of their captaincy.”The left-handed batter has featured in 30 Tests, amassing 1,597 runs.
Pakistan squad for Australia Tests: Shan Masood (captain), Aamir Jamal, Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Khurram Shahzad, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Noman Ali, Saim Ayub, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Saud Shakeel and Shaheen Shah Afridi.
Australia tour schedule:
Four-day match: PM’s XI vs Pakistan – December 6-9: Manuka Oval, Canberra
1st Test – Australia vs Pakistan – December 14-18: Perth Stadium
2nd Test – Australia vs Pakistan – December 26-30: Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)
3rd Test – Australia vs Pakistan – January 3-7: Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG)