Melbourne, November 30


CC Hall of Famer and former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting feels that batter Cameron Bancroft is leading the race to succeed David Warner and Usman Khawaja at the top of Australia's Test batting.

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Earlier, this year, Warner announced that he plans to bring down the curtains to his illustrious Test career following the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) Test against Pakistan next year. As he prepares for the final phase of his career in white clothing, there are a host of openers eyeing his place in the Australian team.

While Marcus Harris and Matthew Renshaw have been used as reserve batters in recent tours to India and England, Ponting thinks Bancroft has jumped to the top of the pecking order on the back of some sensational form at domestic level in Australia over the last few years.

The 31-year-old scored four centuries and made more runs than any other player during the 2022/23 summer in Australia's domestic Sheffield Shield competition and is once again among the top run-scorers this season.

In 11 matches, Bancroft scored 945 runs at an average of 59.06, with four centuries and a fifty to emerge as the top run-getter.

In his first-class career, Bancroft has made 9,389 runs at an average of 39.12, with 25 centuries and 33 fifties in 261 innings. His best score is 228*.

The batter's numbers in Australian whites are not really great, as in 10 Tests, he has made 446 runs at an average of 26.23, with just three fifties in 18 innings. His best score is 82*.

While Bancroft has not represented Australia since 2019, Ponting expects the in-form right-hander will be given another chance at the international level.

"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 batting legend also expects all-rounder Mitchell Marsh to be in Australia's playing XI following an excellent 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 centuries and fifty) and that fellow all-rounder Cameron Green will have to bide his time and wait for his next chance.

"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.

Australia's series against Pakistan kicks off with the first Test in Perth on December 14, with matches in Melbourne and Sydney to follow ahead of a two-match series against the West Indies at home in January.

Australia currently sit in third place in the ICC World Test Championship standings after they shared the spoils against arch-rival England when retaining the Ashes earlier this year.

Ricky Ponting backs Cameron Bancroft to succeed David Warner as opening batter

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