ICC Men's ODI World Cup 2019
Ponting's verdict on Aussie pace puzzle
Big three must be ready for back-to-back World Cup and Ashes series, says ex-captain
10 April 2019, 07:01 PM AEST
Ricky Ponting believes Australia's big three fast bowlers should be aiming to play every game of back-to-back World Cup and Ashes campaigns, but flagged the trio may not always be first-picked.
National selectors met this week to whittle Australia's World Cup contenders down to a squad of 15 tasked with defending their 50-over crown in the United Kingdom this year.
The Steve Smith and David Warner conundrum aside, the panel's biggest decision is expected to be over whether all three of their star pace trio will be physically capable of firing in the Ashes fresh off a six-week, 11-game (if they make the final) long ODI event.
Starc (pectoral muscle) and Hazlewood (back) are both on the comeback trail from injuries that have sidelined them from Australia's last 10 ODIs against India and Pakistan, while Cummins was carefully managed through the latter series, featuring in just one game.
Ponting, who will join Australia's coaching panel for the World Cup after his stint with the Delhi Capitals in the Indian Premier League concludes, urged selectors only to have eyes for what's immediately in front of them.
"They (Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins) have all had reasonable layoffs now," Ponting told cricket.com.au. "I know some of them got through the summer and had injuries with Josh and 'Starcy' of late, but that should mean that they should go into a World Cup very fresh.
"None of those guys will be in the IPL either so they need to just manage (themselves) really well, with the thought of playing every game through the World Cup and the Ashes
"I'm sure all those bowlers want to do that.
"It's up to them to get themselves fit enough and strong enough to give themselves the best chance of being able to get through."
Unlike their Ashes rivals England, the world's top-ranked ODI team, Australia's first-choice quicks have generally been the same in 50-over and Test cricket since Cummins emerged as a durable foil to Starc and Hazlewood.
England on the other hand look set to have the luxury of calling up upon two specialist, world-class pacemen for the Ashes in James Anderson and Stuart Broad, neither of whom feature in their 50-over plans anymore.
The recent injury to Jhye Richardson, who has emerged as a promising prospect in one-day and Test cricket in recent months, complicates Australia's selection picture and could potentially increase their reliance the big three should the 22-year-old not recover in time for the World Cup.
Another factor is the reigning champions' increasing willingness to field not just one specialist spinner, but two, having won the World Cup in 2015 relying largely on an all-out pace attack and some occasional off-spin from allrounder Glenn Maxwell.
While Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins are all locks for the World Cup squad as far as Ponting is concerned, he says Australia must be prepared to leave one of them out if conditions dictate.
"Who knows, there might be a few games through the World Cup where it might not be the best to take those three fast bowlers into a game," he said.
"There might be a wicket that might look like it will be slower and turn more, so you go in with another all-round option and or another spinner.
"But management is going to be key, because trying to prioritise a World Cup over an Ashes series … it's impossible.
"You've just got to face what you've got in front of you.
"The whole goal for Australian cricket right now should be to win the World Cup and worry about whatever happens after that, after that."
Coach Justin Langer, one third of the selection panel also featuring chair Trevor Hohns and Greg Chappell, has praised the recent contributions of Richardson, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Kane Richardson and Jason Behrendorff.
"What's most pleasing is a lot of other guys have stepped up," Langer said last month. "There's actually some good depth of talent now. It's not just about three bowlers.
"There's a number of guys who we could easily select. So I'm not as concerned now, we've got some more confidence in the other guys."
It's a view shared by Ponting, a three-time World Cup-winner, who suggested fast-bowling options abound for the two enormous campaigns ahead of Australia.
"The thing about Australian cricket right now, we have got pretty good depth on the fast bowling side," he said.
"The pressure on selections for those first few games in the World Cup will be interesting and that's what you want around the group, you want that sort of depth.
"There's great depth around this squad, there'll be a lot of pressure on positions. The guys playing their best going into that first game will warrant their selection."
Australia's World Cup fixtures
May 25: (warm-up) England v Australia, Southampton
May 27: (warm-up) Australia v Sri Lanka, Southampton
June 9: India v Australia, The Oval
June 12: Australia v Pakistan, Taunton
June 15: Sri Lanka v Australia, The Oval
June 20: Australia v Bangladesh, Trent Bridge
June 25: England v Australia, Lord's
July 9: Semi-Final 1, Old Trafford
July 11: Semi-Final 2, Edgbaston
July 14: Final, Lord's
For a full list of all World Cup fixtures, click HERE