Domain Test Series v Pakistan
Burns the right-hand man for Warner: Ponting
Australia's new-look opening combination gets a tick of approval from the Test legend
14 November 2019, 06:34 PM AEST
Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has backed the return of opener Joe Burns to Australia's Test side and says the right-hander can help David Warner get back to his best this summer.
Ponting says there was "no real surprise" in Australia's squad announced today, adding the return to a left-handed and right-handed opening combination could be crucial as the Aussies look to avoid a repeat of the top-order woes that plagued them during the Ashes.
The return of Burns and the omissions of Marcus Harris and Usman Khawaja means Australia will field three right-handers in their top four for the first Test against Pakistan in Brisbane next week, compared to the three left-handers they had in the top three at one stage during the Ashes.
Ponting says the variety at the top will make it more difficult for Pakistan's impressive fast-bowling attack to get into a rhythm like Stuart Broad and Jofra Archer did in England, where they terrorised Australia's lefties from round the wicket.
"The left-hand, right-hand combination at the top is a good thing," Ponting told cricket.com.au today.
"We saw in England that right-armers going around the wicket created a lot of issues to our lefties at the top.
"With Burns being there now … if they want to go around the wicket to Warner, they'll have to go over the wicket to Burns. So it just makes the bowler's job a little bit more difficult.
"We saw the dominance Broad had against the lefties and if they had a right-hander there (in England), it might have been a bit easier for him and the other left-hander as well."
Ponting said Burns, who has four centuries from 16 Tests, is a "proven Test performer" and deserves his spot, although the former Test skipper lamented the poor performance of Australia's fringe batsmen during their tour match against Pakistan this week.
"The underlying thing through it all was just how disappointing the batsmen were in the tour game," Ponting said of the Australia A game in Perth, where Burns posted scores of 0 and 11.
"It was talked about for a couple of weeks as a bat-off and a showdown, and it didn't turn out that way because none of the batters made any, apart from (Cameron) Bancroft.
"I think (Burns) is a good selection.
"Looking back to the Ashes squad, he was probably the most-unlucky omission from that.
"Things didn't work out for him in the tour game, but he'll obviously get a lot of confidence out of being back.
"He's got a proven track record, averages about 40 in Test cricket and hopefully that will continue."
Ponting also predicted Warner to be "one of the players of the summer" after his horror Ashes campaign, where he averaged just 9.5 for the series in the face of Broad's round-the-wicket approach.
Warner averages almost 60 in home Tests and Ponting says the left-hander is good enough to respond to his Ashes slump and the same line of attack that Pakistan will no doubt look to exploit.
"I know what sort of a bloke he is," Ponting said of Warner, whom he worked closely with during the World Cup this year.
"He's very competitive, he wants to win, and he wants to have success. And he's very meticulous in his preparation, he knows how teams are going to bowl to him and what he has to work on.
"The hunger and desire will certainly be there. If he gets off to a good start in the first Test, it could be a big summer for him."
But Ponting also warned Australia's top order they will be in for a tough examination against a Pakistan attack that's expected to include impressive seamer Mohammad Abbas, left-armer Shaheen Afridi and uncapped 16-year-old speedster Naseem Shah.
"I think from what we saw in Perth, Pakistan will put out a pretty good bowling attack," he said.
"In conditions in Brisbane that will give them something, and (under lights) in Adelaide as well, it's going to be hard work from them."
Domain Test Series v Pakistan
Australia squad: Tim Paine (c), Cameron Bancroft, Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner
Pakistan squad: Azhar Ali (c), Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Imran Khan Snr, Iftikhar Ahmed, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Musa Khan, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Yasir Shah.
Warm-up match: Australia A v Pakistan, match drawn
Warm-up match: v Cricket Australia XI, November 15-16, WACA Ground
First Test: November 21-25, Gabba (Seven, Fox & Kayo)