England v Australia ODIs - Men's
Ponting: Aussie ODI side 'has work to do'
Australia icon Ricky Ponting says the current ODI team has 'all the talent' but need to patch-up 'a few little holes' with an eye towards the 2023 World Cup
10 September 2020, 07:55 PM AEST
Dual World Cup-winning captain Ricky Ponting believes Australia has "work to do" on their one-day cricket before the next quadrennial tournament in 2023 and the upcoming three-match series against reigning champions England might provide them some crucial answers.
Ponting said Australia has historically looked to settle on their likely World Cup plans and personnel two years out from the ICC showcase event, which is scheduled to be next held in India less than 30 months from now.
The three-match ODI series against England that begins in Manchester on Friday has afforded Australia an opportunity to take an enlarged 21-man squad due to the ongoing COVID19 protocols and restrictions.
That gives national selectors a chance to bring uncapped players into the squad and possibly hand them a debut against the world's top-ranked ODI outfit, as well as trial a few different strategies before World Cup-planning begins in earnest next year.
Ponting said while the core group for the India 2023 campaign is expected to remain largely unchanged, there are questions that need to be answered following Australia's semi-final loss to England in last year's tournament.
"We'll see how the Aussie boys go, but they've still got some work to do on their one-day cricket, I think," Ponting told cricket.com.au from the UAE where he is quarantining ahead of the Indian Premier League's start later this month.
"We know their T20 cricket of late has been good and we know their Test cricket has been outstanding, but there's still a few little holes in their one-day game and hopefully they can patch them up over the next week or so.
"There's not too many holes, but I think they just have to work out what their brand of one-day cricket is going to be and how they're going to go about it because there's no doubt the talent's all there.
"You look at that squad right now and that group of players you've got over there, it's a very good squad.
"And I was really happy to see some of those young guys get an opportunity to go on that tour – Riley Meredith and Josh Philippe and Daniel Sams.
"To be on an Australian tour with some of our all-time best players will be a really good learning curve for them."
Chief among the questions that Ponting believes need to be posed is the installation of a preferred, permanent No.3 batter.
In the past 30 ODIs (including last year's World Cup campaign) Australia has tried six different players in the key batting role due to reasons of form, injury and suspension – Usman Khawaja (10 innings), Steve Smith (9), Shaun Marsh (6), Glenn Maxwell (2), Marcus Stoinis and Peter Handscomb (each 1).
"They need to find someone that's going to bat at No.3 for them for a long time," Ponting said.
"It's such a pivotal role, they need to find someone who's going to be a long-term player there.
"Whether that's Marnus (Labuschagne) there and Smith at four, or whether it's the other way round, who knows what it's going to be."
Ponting also noted the race for the seam-bowling allrounder's berth now saw Mitchell Marsh – player of the match in Australia's victory in the final T20I against England last Tuesday – seemingly locked in a battle with Stoinis.
But he claimed the other bowling places looked to be sewn up, with a pace attack led by Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood and potentially augmented by Jhye Richardson with leg spinner Adam Zampa as the first-choice tweaker.
He claimed Australia's selectors were likely to follow the tried-and-true formula of waiting until two years-18 months before the start of the next World Cup before looking to embed a line-up and perfect a game plan best suited to conditions in which the tournament will be played.
It was 18 months prior to the 1999 World Cup in the UK that Australia first embraced separate Test and ODI teams with Steve Waugh at the helm of the latter.
But it was barely a year before their triumphant, unbeaten 2003 Cup campaign in South Africa that Waugh was removed as skipper and Ponting installed.
"It just depends on where your group is at," Ponting said in relation to the timing of World Cup preparations beginning in earnest.
"I think what they'll probably do is push ahead with the current guys and make some decisions probably two years out from the World Cup after looking at areas they might need to address and gaps they might need to fill.
"I think that's why guys like Meredith and Philippe might be there now.
"It gives them a bit of a taste of it and makes them aware of what it's going to take to be good international players."
Ponting said England had taken a more dramatic approach to their 2019 World Cup strategy, with Australia's Trevor Bayliss appointed coach in the wake of their disastrous 2015 campaign in Australia with a clear brief to deliver England's first World Cup when the tournament returned to home turf.
It was a ploy that saw the likes of veterans Ian Bell, James Anderson and Stuart Broad jettisoned immediately after England failed to reach the playoff rounds in 2015, to be replaced by explosive talents such as openers Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy.
It also led to the rejuvenation of England's limited-overs skipper, Eoin Morgan.
"They (England) had a really old group of guys in that World Cup in Australia that were a long way behind where the modern game was, and they basically had to start from scratch," Ponting said.
"They basically got rid of all those guys and started again, and went on a four-year cycle to make sure they were right for the 2019 World Cup.
"I think back three or four years ago and I thought Eoin Morgan was gone, I thought he was done as an international player.
"He was in the IPL, on the bench for Sunrisers (Hyderabad) and couldn't get a game, moving around different franchises as a spare overseas player.
"But now he just seems like he's found another gear and he's probably playing better than he's played in his life.
"England are the reigning World Cup champion, so there will be nothing better for Australia to pit themselves against probably the most consistent one-day side for the last three or four years."
Despite that assessment, Ponting could not resist cheekily channeling his triple World Cup-winning teammate Glenn McGrath when asked for a predicted scoreline in the upcoming three-match ODI series to be played at Old Trafford.
"Australia's going to win 3-0 obviously," Ponting deadpanned, before adding with a laugh.
"I very rarely give England anything, so I'm not going to give them the odd one-day game here and there."
2020 Tour of England
Australia's T20 and ODI squad: Aaron Finch (c), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Daniel Sams, Kane Richardson, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa
England T20I squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonathan Bairstow, Tom Banton, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Joe Denly, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Mark Wood. Reserves: Liam Livingstone, Saqib Mahmood
England ODI squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonathan Bairstow, Tom Banton, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood. Reserves: Joe Denly, Saqib Mahmood