Ponting picks Warner's Test successor

Australia legend Ricky Ponting says WA opener Cameron Bancroft leads the race to replace David Warner this summer, hosing down suggestions Marnus Labuschagne or Cameron Green could be elevated to the role

Ricky Ponting insists Cameron Bancroft should be David Warner's replacement once the veteran Australia opener bows out of Test cricket in January.

WA's Bancroft failed to make the most of an opportunity today, bowled without offering a shot to Queensland's Jake Wildermuth, but remains the Marsh Sheffield Shield's top run-scorer this season.

He has 512 runs at 56.88 with two hundreds and three fifties in his nine innings so far, with one more against Queensland the Prime Minister's XI match to come, and last summer hit 945 for the season, almost 300 more than the next best batter.

Despite the 31-year-old's domestic success, Bancroft was still overlooked for Marcus Harris for a spare batting spot in Australia's Ashes squad in June, with the Victorian earmarked as the heir apparent when he received a Cricket Australia contract.

Harris and Queenslander Matt Renshaw loom as the other obvious candidates at the top of the order to partner Usman Khawaja after Warner's farewell at the SCG.

However, Ponting believes Bancroft needed to be recalled for his first Test since 2019 due to his sheer weight of runs.

"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," the legendary former Australia captain told SEN on Thursday.

Lightning-quick Bancroft reels in a short-leg stunner

"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."

Australia coach Andrew McDonald raised eyebrows this week when he unexpectedly floated the possibility of promoting from within the current Test ranks, either with Marnus Labuschagne moving up from No.3 to open so allrounder Cameron Green can slot back into the Test XI, or with Green himself opening.

"(Green) has batted at six for most of his Test cricket, but he has been a fantastic No.4 for WA and averages close to 50 in Shield cricket," McDonald said in an extended on-air stint with SEN this week.

"There is always the idea that you can potentially shift the order to make room to put your best six batters, or what you see as best six batters, in a certain order.

"We have seen that in Australian cricket before. David Boon went from three to opening. Justin Langer went from three to opening. Shane Watson went from six to opening. There has been the ability to reshuffle and for that to be successful."

But Ponting has cautioned against such a move, saying Green should be forced to earn his spot by finding form in the Shield with WA.

Green passed fifty for WA shortly after lunch at the Gabba today, having come in at 2-17, but the prodigiously talented 24-year-old was dropped during the Ashes, just months after his maiden Test century, for Mitchell Marsh.

"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's very much a specialist position."

Fellow WA allrounder Mitch Marsh joked he was upset to be left out of the opening berth conversation, but said he hoped there was a way for them both to feature in the XI.

"He's a special talent," Marsh told reporters on Wednesday at Optus Stadium.

"We've got a great relationship, we're super close on and off the field and I always joke that there's probably not a lot I can teach him on the cricket field, but he knows I'm always there for him and hopefully we can play a lot of cricket together at some stage."

Ponting also believes enigmatic allrounder Glenn Maxwell should seriously be considered for a Test recall after his stunning white-ball success in India.

The Victorian played the last of his seven Tests in 2017, but his three recent international centuries, two in the ODI World Cup and one in a T20, have been irresistible.

Mission Impossible: Mercurial Maxwell does the unthinkable

"I could see him (Maxwell) getting back into a Test line-up because of the all-round game that he brings in those conditions," Ponting said.

"The (201) not out in that game against Afghanistan, which is the most remarkable one-day innings I've ever seen.

"I've been around a lot of games, watched a lot of games, played a lot of games, I've never ever seen anything like that."

Ponting's caveat of "in those conditions" referencing India is pertinent with seemingly little room for the enigmatic white-ball allrounder a settled Australia Test line-up in home conditions. 

Australia's men are not scheduled to play Test cricket in the subcontinent again until a two-Test tour of Sri Lanka in Feburary 2025, as per the ICC's Future Tours Programme. 

Ponting, who captained Australia to World Cup titles in 2003 and 2007, also urged Pat Cummins' team to maintain the rage in the Test summer when they host Pakistan and the struggling West Indies.

"I'd be saying to go as hard as you can and just really try and bury these teams and win as convincingly as you can," Ponting said.

NRMA Insurance Test series v Pakistan

First Test: December 14-18, Perth Stadium (1.20pm AEDT)

Second Test: December 26-30, MCG (10.30am AEDT)

Third Test: January 3-7, SCG (10.30am AEDT)

NRMA Insurance Test series v West Indies

First Test: January 17-21, Adelaide Oval (10.30am AEDT)

Second Test: January 25-29, Gabba (3pm AEDT)