Former Test skipper Ricky Ponting says Australia should pick the same XI and retain the same batting order for the second Domain Test against India, saying making any changes just one Test into the summer would be an overreaction to their loss in Adelaide.
Despite Ponting saying this week that Aaron Finch “has a lot of work to do” to establish himself as a Test opener, he said the Australians should resist the urge to move him down the order after just one Test.
Ponting’s former teammate Mike Hussey suggested on Monday that the seam-friendly conditions at the new Perth Stadium would make Usman Khawaja a better option to open alongside Marcus Harris, meaning Finch would move down the order.
But Ponting said if selectors, coach Justin Langer and skipper Tim Paine believed Finch should open in Adelaide, their opinion shouldn’t change a week later.
“Why wouldn’t they do that for this game if that’s their best line-up?” Ponting told cricket.com.au when asked if Finch should bat down the order.
“I just think that’d be really reactionary. The selectors have made a decision, or whoever is setting the batting order, that they think Aaron Finch is the right guy to be opening the batting for Australia.
“When you start moving guys around, it just creates more uncertainty. Finch would potentially train differently next week than he had this week because he’s not opening (and) Usman has to train differently because he is opening.
“Little things like that would come into their minds. If I was them, I’d be tempted to keep it the same way.”
Australian skipper Tim Paine didn’t dismiss the idea of changing the batting order for the second Test, but said any discussions about that would happen over the coming days.
“Justin’s the coach and he’s got a fair say,” Paine said.
“So I imagine if he wants to talk about it, it will be on the agenda when we get to Perth.”
Australia have retained the same 14-man squad for the Test in Perth that begins on Friday, with the XI from the Adelaide Test to be re-joined by 12th man Peter Siddle as well as Chris Tremain and Mitchell Marsh, who were both released for JLT Sheffield Shield duty this week.
Former Test spinner Shane Warne has again called for allrounder Marcus Stoinis to be handed a debut in Perth, suggesting he should be included in place of Peter Handscomb, but Ponting urged against any personnel changes.
“I’d have to leave it like it is,” he said.
“They decided that was their strongest line-up going into this week and opinion shouldn’t change on the back of one game.”
While India have won the opening Test of a series in Australia for the very first time, Ponting said the hosts had every reason to believe they could level the series in Perth.
And he said the nature of the new-look Perth pitch should give the Australians an edge.
“I think Perth will definitely suit our guys a lot more than the Indian players, but the Aussies need to bounce back pretty quickly,” he said.
“They played pretty poorly this week and got within 30 runs. And that’s not saying India played at their absolute best either, but they’re absolutely capable.
“There’s some positives to take from it but they’ve also got to take a good hard look at what they’ve done through this game and make sure they do it a lot better.”
Ponting also dismissed any doubt about the final wicket of the match, saying he believed the catch to dismiss Josh Hazlewood was a fair one.
India’s KL Rahul claimed the catch fielding at slip and while there was no doubt from the on-field umpires, nor any question from Hazlewood, there was some conjecture on social media about whether the catch had been taken cleanly.
“From what I saw in the few replays we showed up in the Seven box, it looked like a clean catch to me,” Ponting said.
“There’s no doubt he caught it 6-8 inches off the ground and it looks like his hands dipped down towards the ground. As far as I’m concerned, I thought it was a fair catch.
“And the umpires gave it out on the field with their ‘soft signal’, so that’s the way it is.”
Domain Test Series v India
Dec 6-10: First Test, Adelaide Oval
Dec 14-18: Second Test, Perth Stadium
Dec 26-30: Third Test, MCG
Jan 3-7: Fourth Test, SCG
Australia squad: Tim Paine (c, wk), Josh Hazlewood (vc), Mitch Marsh (vc), Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Chris Tremain
India squad: Virat Kohli (c), Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Prithvi Shaw, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant (wk), Parthiv Patel (wk), Ravi Ashwin, Ravi Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar