Domain Test Series v Pakistan
Nowhere to relax: Ponting lauds Aussie attack
Former Test skipper discusses the tweak to Mitchell Starc's bowling action on another impressive day from Australia's bowlers
Adam Burnett at the Gabba
21 November 2019, 09:00 PM AEST
A dual focus on patience and aggression from Australia's attack was responsible for swinging day one of the first Domain Test against Pakistan the home side's way.
That's the assessment of former skipper Ricky Ponting, who continues to be impressed by a bowling group that leaves its opposition with "nowhere to relax".
After Pakistan's openers survived the opening session at the Gabba, a combination of a build-up of pressure and an increase in intent – particularly from Pat Cummins – early in the second session triggered a collapse of four wickets for three runs across seven overs.
At that point in the day, both Cummins and Josh Hazlewood had conceded fewer than two runs per over, and Ponting said it was that policy of containment (perhaps a hangover from the successful strategy adopted through the recent Ashes series) that precipitated the collapse.
"Babar Azam would be disappointed (with his dismissal), Haris Sohail would be disappointed you'd think with the shot that he played, but a lot of those dismissals quite often in Test cricket are a build-up of great pressure from a very good bowling group," Ponting told cricket.com.au.
"You've got nowhere to relax against this team. If you get through Hazlewood and Cummins, then (Mitchell) Starc comes back on. If you get through Starc then (Nathan) Lyon comes on and ties down one end, and that gives the other quicks time to freshen up and come again.
"So it's a good attack and I think they showed how good they are today."
After Asad Shafiq (76) led a Pakistani resistance across an hour of the afternoon, Starc found some movement with the second new ball to knock over Yasir Shah (26), and trigger a second collapse of the day, this time three wickets without a single run being added.
Ponting noted a slight tweak to the action of the left-armer, who had discussed the notion of "controlled aggression" in the build-up to the Test, had afforded him some greater consistency.
"Starcy's been pretty impressive," he added.
"For some reason there's always a lot of criticism around about Mitch, but I think it looks like the little change of action that he's had with his load-up, it's allowed him to be a little bit more consistent with his delivery and his release. And when you get that consistency, that breeds confidence and you can run in and bowl fast.
"The same thing happened with Mitchell Johnson halfway through his career, where he tightened his action up, and then he wasn't thinking about his action so much and he could just run in and bowl quick.
"Starcy's been pretty impressive and all-in-all I think it's been a really good job."
It will be Australia's turn to bat on Friday on a pitch Ponting described as being harder than usual for the Gabba, and in conditions overall he felt would have suited Pakistani quick Mohammad Abbas, who was a controversial omission from the visitors' final XI.
"There's still a little bit of swing in the air but the wicket's looked probably unusually good for a day-one Brisbane pitch," he said.
"I was surprised when (Abbas) didn't play … but then talking to Rameez (Raja) apparently he's not in the best of form, he's dropped a couple of yards of pace – and he's never been overly quick anyway.
"But you think about these conditions, it would've been perfect for him. Even the next Test in Adelaide, it's going to be great conditions for him there as well.
"There's probably a couple of the Aussie batsmen who think it's good that he's not playing because I think they can probably handle the other two (Imran Khan or Shaheen Afridi) better than they can handle him.
"But they're backing the guys in who did so well for them in Perth, which I think is a great thing. They picked that team over there, they knocked the Aussie A guys over really cheaply in the first innings, so they get the chance to play a Test match, which I think is good for a team environment."
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.
First Test: November 21-25, Gabba (Seven, Fox & Kayo)