Domain Test Series v Pakistan
Ponting picks his pace attack for the first Test
Former Test skipper says selections during the Ashes indicate James Pattinson may get the nod over Mitchell Starc at the Gabba
16 November 2019, 06:00 PM AEST
James Pattinson doesn't rate his own chances of playing in the first Domain Test against Pakistan, but Test legend Ricky Ponting believes left-armer Mitchell Starc will have to "bowl the house down" in the Brisbane nets this week to jump ahead of the Victorian and win a spot.
Pattinson and Starc, who both made their Test debuts at the Gabba when Ponting was captain eight years ago, and uncapped Queenslander Michael Neser are seemingly battling for just one bowling vacancy for the first Test behind NSW trio Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon.
Starc has out-performed Pattinson in the early rounds of the Marsh Sheffield Shield this season – he's taken 17 wickets at an average of just 17 compared to Pattinson's 11 wickets at 29 – but Ponting believes selectors have already shown their hand during the Ashes.
"I absolutely love everything that Mitchell Starc brings to the table," Ponting told cricket.com.au.
"But at the same time, they've been reluctant to play him in the last few series. He only played the one Ashes Test match and he did OK in that game.
"Pattinson's got a good record in Brisbane as well (he has 29 first-class wickets at 20 at the Gabba compared to 38 at 31 for Starc).
"That's the other thing that might go in his favour; in a place where the ball does swing a bit, he generally pitches it up and takes it away from the right-handers.
"It's a tough one but thinking about where they've come from and their reluctance to play Starc, I think they might lean Pattinson's way again.
"I think (Starc) will have to do something pretty special at training to be part of that team."
Ponting believes the absence of an allrounder in Brisbane may also count against Starc, whose attacking lines and lengths can sometimes lead to a high economy rate and require a fifth-bowling option to steady the run rate.
However, the former Test skipper added Starc's non-selection for the final Ashes Test at The Oval conflicts that theory.
"There was a bit of contradiction going on there during the Ashes," he said.
"They talked about only playing Starc when they had an allrounder, but then they brought Mitchell Marsh in for the last Test and they still didn't play Starc.
"So if I was him, I'd be asking what he has to do to stay in or get into the side."
Ponting said the hot form of Cummins and Hazlewood during the Ashes, where they took wickets at regular intervals and also kept the run rate to a minimum, could hold the key for their state teammate to win a spot.
And he added selectors were in an enviable position given the depth of fast-bowling talent they have to choose from.
"Whichever way they go with Pattinson, Starc or even Neser in his home conditions, none of those guys are going to let you down," he said.
"The reluctance to play Starc (in the past) has been that he has generally leaked runs.
"But what we know with Hazlewood and Cummins is they're not leaking runs and they've been outstanding for a long time now. Not only are they getting guys out, they're making it harder to score as well.
"So maybe with those two on top of their games, there's a chance to play someone like Starc as more of an out-and-out wicket-taker that might leak a few runs."
Pattinson said this week he has had no indication from selectors about who will play in Brisbane, but he expected the NSW trio of Cummins, Hazlewood and Starc to get the nod.
"It will be pretty tough to get a gig in that team ... I think those three probably get the first look in," he said.
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)