Qantas T20 Tour of NZ 2021
Ponting backs Big Bash bolters for Aussie squad
Former skipper sees a host of fresh faces potentially getting maiden national call-ups for upcoming T20 tour of New Zealand
24 January 2021, 07:00 PM AEST
Three-time World Cup winner Ricky Ponting says teenage leg-spinner Tanveer Sangha is a chance to earn his first international call-up for next month's T20 tour of New Zealand, while he's also nominated Adelaide Strikers paceman Wes Agar as another "dark horse" to be selected.
And while it might be too soon for Perth Scorchers keeper-batsman Josh Inglis to get picked for his first international campaign, Ponting says the 25-year-old "is a real talent" who has the ability to represent Australia in all three formats.
The squad for the five-match T20 series across the Tasman is set to be stacked with uncapped stars from the KFC BBL given Australia's leading players will be unavailable due to a Test campaign in South Africa that runs concurrently.
With Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Swepson expected to be in South Africa and Ashton Agar in doubt due to injury, one or maybe two uncapped spinners are likely to be considered for the T20 squad to support frontline tweaker, Adam Zampa.
Thunder spinner Sangha and fan favourite Peter Hatzoglou have been the leading domestic spinners this Big Bash season and Ponting says Sangha, who was playing for the Australian Under-19 team just 12 months ago, could be ushered into the squad.
"If (Ashton Agar) is fit, he goes, even without playing much cricket," Ponting told cricket.com.au. "If he's not, it's an interesting one.
"I think it's a bit early for Hatzoglou to be playing international cricket … but Tanveer Sangha is a different question. He's a young bloke who looks like he's pretty confident and in control of what he's doing, and he bowls proper good balls so he might be someone they'd look to get into the system.
"(Thunder spinner) Chris Green is a different sort of spin bowler who is very much a new-ball bowler who can bowl two (overs) in the Power Play, and they might not want that.
"It's a hard one for young leg-spinners; because they come along quickly and everyone's excited by how good they might be, quite often they're introduced early and they can have a few setbacks after that. But they might have to think about that."
Left-arm spinner Agar has been sidelined since early December due to a calf injury while he's also nursing a broken finger and is currently rehabbing both injuries in Perth. He is yet to return to the nets or pick up a bat and is an outside chance at best to be available for the BBL Finals.
The T20 squad is set to fly to New Zealand in the days following the Big Bash decider on February 6 and given further treatment would be compromised by quarantine restrictions across the Tasman, Agar is racing the clock to prove his fitness.
Ponting added that Australia have spin-bowling allrounders D'Arcy Short and Glenn Maxwell at their disposal, which could make a debut for 19-year-old Sangha unlikely.
"D'Arcy's pretty much bowling four overs every (BBL) game anyway so if they have concerns with Sangha (they have other spin options)," he said.
"But if they think he's a long-term player who they want to get in the system, this is the right tour for it. Whether or not he plays is another thing, especially if they have Zampa and Maxi and Short in the side. That's plenty, I think."
Ponting expects the BBL's leading wicket-taker, Jhye Richardson, to be picked in the Test squad alongside the likes of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood and he's nominated Sean Abbott, Kane Richardson, Daniel Sams, Riley Meredith, Andrew Tye and Jason Behrendorff to fill the pace vacancies in New Zealand.
But he added Strikers paceman Wes Agar, the younger brother of Ashton, has done everything right to also earn a call-up after collecting 21 wickets in 12 Big Bash matches heading into Sunday's clash with the Thunder.
"Wes Agar's a dark horse, definitely," he said. "On the back of what he's done, he got another four wickets the other night (against the Heat) and he's one of the leading wicket-takers in the Big Bash."
Ponting also heaped praise on dynamic keeper-batter Josh Philippe and said "the timing is right now" to hand him a chance at the top of the order in NZ alongside skipper Aaron Finch, but he added Marcus Stoinis and Alex Carey have also put up compelling cases to open the batting against the Black Caps.
And while he says a call-up this week might just be beyond Scorchers star Inglis, the Western Australian's ability hasn't gone unnoticed.
"He's the other one I'd love to get a look at at some stage because I think he's real talent," Ponting said.
"Him and Philippe are probably going for the same spot; Inglis is probably regarded as being a better keeper, Philippe might be slightly more explosive at the top of the order.
"But geez, I reckon Inglis has got something.
"He plays spin beautifully … he played Rashid Khan on his ear, so there's that side of it. And he's batted at the top of the order in first-class cricket for WA, so there obviously must be a good technique in behind what he can do in the white-ball stuff.
"I know ‘Painey' (Tim Paine) and ‘Hadds' (Brad Haddin) have spent a fair bit of time with the keepers and Hadds said he's very, very good with the gloves.
"He's got a couple of hundreds in the Shield … so with those two and Carey, we've got no shortage of keeper-batsmen coming through."