Domain Test Series v New Zealand
Ponting backs Labuschagne as future leader
Australia legend declares world's in-form Test batsman is a candidate to one day take over the captaincy from Tim Paine after day one century at SCG
Sam Ferris at the SCG
3 January 2020, 10:39 PM AEST
Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has flagged Marnus Labuschagne as a potential future Test captain but has backed current skipper Tim Paine to be at the helm in 12 months' time.
Labuschagne was again the toast of the Test team with his fourth century of the summer to further cement his place in Australia's batting order at first-drop.
The 25-year-old finished day one of the third Domain Test match against New Zealand 130 not out and appears a long-term prospect in Australia's side under the leadership of Paine, who is 10 years the Queenslander's senior.
Labuschagne has had limited opportunities to captain in Queensland having come through behind long-serving leaders Chris Hartley and Usman Khawaja, while club teammate Jimmy Peirson has taken the reigns when Khawaja has been away on national duties.
Paine's playing future was a talking point in the lead-up to the third Domain Test at the SCG after the Tasmanian turned 35 last month and the leadership ban of Steve Smith soon to expire at the end of March.
But Paine said on match eve he is feeling good, recovering from Test matches better than he ever has and reiterated he is taking it series by series while he is still enjoying playing.
After watching him score an assertive 79 and capture eight dismissals behind the stumps in the Boxing Day Test, Ponting predicts Paine to still be Australia's Test captain this time next year but suggested Labuschagne could be an option in the future.
"Paine hasn't really got age on his side but he probably had one his best games for Australia last week in Melbourne," Ponting told cricket.com.au when asked who would be Australia's Test captain in a year’s time.
"Travis Head is vice-captain now, Marnus Labuschagne is another one that will come into the conversation in 12-18 months' time once he's properly established himself in the team. He seems like the right sort of guy to maybe be a captain down the track at some point.
"But 12 months down the track, I'll give Painey at least another 12 months.
"Yes, he's 35 but if you think of it in cricket terms he's still relatively young.
"With all the cricket that he's missed through his career with his finger issues, it's not like his body has given up on him or getting little injuries – he's as fit as anyone in that squad."
However, Paine must keeping putting runs on the board at No.7 if he is to maintain his place in the side, says Ponting.
Paine averages 31.58 in Tests with seven half-centuries in 49 innings since debuting alongside Steve Smith against Pakistan at Lord's in 2010.
The right-hander scored his second first-class century last October and his 79 at the MCG moved the game on and out of the reach of the Blacks Caps.
So if his run of form continues with the bat, Ponting can see Paine playing on for as long as he likes.
"I think that's the bottom line," Ponting said.
"Everyone knows what a great keeper is, if he keeps scoring runs and contributing to wins I give him at least 12 months.
"You've still got to keep yourself in the team.
"If you look at other teams around the world, that's the way wicketkeeping has gone. You have to be able to contribute with the bat.
"If you don't, the balance gets thrown out a little bit if you've got someone coming in at No.7 that's like a tailender it doesn’t give you great balance.
"I think it's important the keeper is scoring runs."
Domain Test Series v New Zealand
Australia squad: David Warner, Joe Burns, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Matthew Wade, Travis Head, Tim Paine (c, wk), Pat Cummins, Mitch Starc, Nathan Lyon, James Pattinson, Michael Neser, Mitchell Swepson
New Zealand: Todd Astle, Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Glenn Phillips, Jeet Raval, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, BJ Watling, Neil Wagner, Kane Williamson (c)
First Test: Australia won by 296 runs
Second Test: Australia won by 247 runs
Third Test: January 3-7, SCG (Seven, Fox & Kayo)