Melbourne, Nov 30

L

egendary Australia cricketer Ricky Ponting has backed David Warner to be in the playing eleven to kickstart the home summer through the first Test against Pakistan starting on December 14 in Perth.

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Warner had earlier expressed his wish to retire from Tests after third game of the series against Pakistan at the SCG in front of friends and family in January 2024. But form hasn’t been on his side in Tests, with his best score since January 2020 being a 200 against South Africa at Melbourne in the 2022 Boxing Day Test.

“Yeah look, I think he deserves to be there at the start of the summer, but then it's up to him. I've read some reports this week about, the farewell tour and having three Tests in the summer and finishing in Sydney in front of his home crowd.”

“I mean, that's all up to David really. I don't think anyone can ever be guaranteed that sort of a run and no one can be guaranteed the fairytale retirement either. So it's up to him, if he scores runs in the first few games, then he'll most likely get that send-off that he's after.”

“But there are a few guys that are queuing up behind him that have been doing a lot of things right in domestic cricket to get their chance to open the batting. That time will obviously come, but when that is, we'll wait and see. We'll probably have a clearer picture after that first test match in Perth,” said Ponting on SEN Radio.

Who becomes the opener after Warner’s retirement from Tests is the next big question. But Ponting thinks Cameron Bancroft should succeed Warner as Australia’s next Test opener based on sheer weight of runs, ahead of Marcus Harris or Matt Renshaw.

Bancroft is the leading run-scorer in the domestic Sheffield Shield competition with 945 runs for Western Australia, and last played a Test for Australia in 2019. "If you look at those three guys, I think it's quite clear that Bancroft is the one that's got the runs on the board and I wouldn't be surprised if they (selectors) go that way."

"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's) a bit more of a groundswell behind Cameron Bancroft getting first crack."

Recently, Australia head coach Andrew McDonald talked of shuffling in the batting order to accommodate Cameron Green in the playing eleven. But Ponting didn’t seem convinced by it, saying Green should win his spot in the Test playing eleven via performances in the Sheffield Shield.

“That speculation's ramped up a bit the last couple of days. There’s been some talk about Marnus potentially going up and opening the batting and trying to find a way to get Green back in the side as early and as quickly as possible.”

“I actually don't believe in that. I think Cameron Green might just have to sit back and bide his time and wait for the opportunity to come back. He can get a truckload of runs in Shield cricket and sort of force his way back into the side.”

Ponting signed off by saying Marnus Labuschagne should be kept at number three and not be sent to open the batting. “Labuschagne has been outstanding at number three for Australia, it's very much a specialist position. If they moved him up, they'd probably have to move (Steve) Smith up to three. He's always been that sort of that number four batsman.”

“It always sounds great in theory, to get one of the most talked about and talented young all-rounders back into the side as soon as possible, but it could create some potential issues along the way as well.”

“I don't know which way the selectors will go, but personally I would leave the batting order where it is and pick one of the specialist openers and give them a crack. Unfortunately, that would mean that Green would just have to sit back and wait a while.”

Ponting backs Warner to be in Australia's playing eleven for start of Test summer against Pakistan

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