Domain Tests v India

Finch 'has a lot of work to do': Ponting

Test great reflects on Australia's decision to open the batting with the Victorian

Martin Smith, at the Adelaide Oval

07 December 2018, 05:58 PM

Ponting questions Finch's position

Ricky Ponting has questioned whether Aaron Finch can be a long-term opener in Australia's Test side, adding the current dearth of batting talent in the country is "unacceptable".

Finch made a solid start to his Test career as an opener against Pakistan earlier this year and has retained that position for the first Domain Test against India, despite most of his recent first-class runs coming in the middle order.

His first innings as a Test opener in Australia was short-lived, bowled from the third ball he faced having inside-edged a booming cover drive off the bowling of Ishant Sharma.

Ishant sent the stumps flying // Getty
Ishant sent the stumps flying // Getty

In October, Ponting said the decision to open with Finch in the UAE was appropriate as a horses-for-courses move, but said today that the Australians had somewhat backed themselves into a corner.

"I think this problem has been created by picking him to open in the UAE," Ponting told cricket.com.au.

"It's the easiest place in the world to be an opening batsman over there, as we know. And he did reasonably well over there which meant … they had to pick him to open the batting coming back here.

"What was the long-term objective to open the batting with him over there?

"Everyone knows he struggles a little bit against moving red ball and we have a series here and an Ashes series not too far away, and the ball's going to move around a lot when we're over in England.

"The shot we saw today is not what a good Test match opener should do third ball of the innings. The new ball on that wicket was always going to be the hardest time to bat and he went for a hard cover drive.

"Sometimes that can happen, but he's got a lot of work to do, I think."

The former Test skipper said Australia's entire batting order, except for local boy Travis Head, made "a lot of simple mistakes" as the home side collapsed to 6-127, the same score India slumped to at one stage on the opening day.

He said Friday's performance reflected a systemic problem in Australian cricket that has been ongoing for some time, where batsmen at all levels are not performing at an acceptable level.

"I'm not here to bag anyone about the way things are happening, but you look at some of the shot selection today and it makes you wonder a little bit," he said.

"I had no worries at all about the group coming in in terms of form and those sort of things, it just highlights that they might be a fair way off the mark.

"It's pretty hard to accept that we have 10-15 batsmen in Australian first-class cricket and only a couple of them average over 40. That's unacceptable as far I'm concerned.

"So you've got to look at the levels of coaching on the way up and what's not happening and try and find ways to improve it."

India bowlers fightback has Test poised

Ponting also dismissed the suggestion that picking four left-handers in the top six played into the hands of Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who continued his dominant record against southpaws by removing Marcus Harris, Shaun Marsh and Usman Khawaja on day two.

"I don't think it matters if we've got left-handers or right-handers there," Ponting said.

"We had to pick our best players and most of them were lefties."

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