Domain Tests v India
Ponting flags changes for Aussie XI
Australia Test great Ricky Ponting selects his replacement if Aaron Finch is ruled out with a finger injury while Handscomb is also under the microscope
Sam Ferris at Perth Stadium
16 December 2018, 09:07 PM AEST
Test great Ricky Ponting says Queenslander Joe Burns is the obvious choice to replace Aaron Finch should the injured opener miss Boxing Day, while also suggesting Peter Handscomb's spot is in jeopardy.
Finch was sent for x-rays on a damaged right index finger on Sunday after he was forced to retire hurt following a nasty blow on the glove from India speedster Mohammed Shami.
It's the same finger that has been struck twice at practice by Australia spearhead Mitchell Starc this summer, and the latest knock looks to have Finch in serious doubt for the third Domain Test in Melbourne.
Should the Victorian miss the iconic Test, Ponting says Burns – who has scored 472 runs at 47.2 in the JLT Sheffield Shield this season – is the likely choice to replace Finch.
"I saw Finch a couple of days ago and he had a big, black bandage around his finger then with some extra padding, so it was already a bit tender anyway," Ponting told cricket.com.au.
"But some of the camera angles we saw today it looked like it was badly bruised on the bottom side, maybe spilt, and the bone might have been coming out.
"We just hope it's not that bad.
"Joe Burns is the obvious one to come in and open. He's the opener around the country who's scoring the most runs at the moment.
"I'm sure there'll be a few names thrown around there."
Burns played the first of his 14 Tests at the MCG against India four years ago and joins the likes of state teammate Matthew Renshaw, Blues pair Nick Larkin and Daniel Hughes and Tigers veteran Alex Doolan as the other in-form openers in the domestic ranks.
But there could be more than one spot up for grabs.
Australia's selectors would be concerned by the form and modes of dismissal of No.5 Handscomb, who was trapped plumb lbw for 13 playing back to a full ball from India seamer Ishant Sharma that nipped back off the seam.
Handscomb now has scores of 34, 14, 7 and 13 in the series, dismissed each time playing off the back foot standing deep in his crease.
The 27-year-old was dropped after two Ashes Test last summer as he battled to counter England's ace swing bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad, but has fought his way back into the side through a weight of runs at domestic level.
But with an Ashes series in England less than 12 months away, Ponting is concerned his unique technique might not be able to stand up in English conditions.
"There's no doubt he's struggling," Ponting said.
"I wouldn't be surprised if there's talk about his spot being up for grabs for the next Test either.
"It seems like he's making the same mistakes he made before he was dropped last time. Let's hope he's not left out. You want to see selectors show faith in some of these guys."
Asked if Handscomb's technique is suitable for Test cricket, Ponting said: "Not like it is at the moment, no.
"I think we're seeing very similar dismissals more often than not.
"What we've got coming up, we've got venues in Melbourne and Sydney where the ball probably won't move around as much so that will make a technique like his a little bit better but there's an Ashes series around the corner where the ball is going to swing a lot.
"I think with a technique like that you're always going to struggle when the ball is moving."
While Ponting is unsure whether Handscomb will retain his place for Boxing Day, former teammate Shane Warne is more certain it’s time for the 27-year-old to be dropped.
Following Handscomb's dismissal, Warne said on Twitter selecting the Victorian is like a "lamb to the slaughter" and that his spot should go to one of two Western Australian allrounders, Marcus Stoinis or Mitchell Marsh.
"I would love to be positive about Handscomb," Warne tweeted.
I would love to be positive about Handscomb. But enough now, it’s not fair on Peter to keep picking him - it’s a lamb to the slaughter. I’ve said it so many times now, but you cannot play international cricket with a technique like that. Stoinis in if fit if not then M Marsh !— Shane Warne (@ShaneWarne) December 16, 2018
"But enough now, it’s not fair on Peter to keep picking him - it’s a lamb to the slaughter.
"I’ve said it so many times now, but you cannot play international cricket with a technique like that.
"Stoinis in if fit if not then M Marsh!"
Domain Test Series v India
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