Aussie batting, not bowling, to blame: Ponting
Ricky Ponting reveals how he tried to change the unorthodox batting technique of Rory Burns as he defends Australia's bowlers at Edgbaston
3 August 2019, 02:48 PM AEST
Former Test captain Ricky Ponting says it's too early to question Australia’s bowling selections for the first Ashes Test, saying the batsmen should carry the can for England's strong position in the game after two days.
Australia's four-man attack took just four wickets on an attritional second day at Edgbaston, bowling without luck as regular pace spearheads Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood – who were controversially left out of the side – watched on from the sidelines.
Ponting said selectors will be forced to reconsider their bowling attack if England's batsmen continue to prosper for the rest of the Test, but added Australia's batsmen should have put more runs on the board in their first innings.
"We’ll wait and see at the end of the Test match," Ponting told cricket.com.au. "If they lose because they haven’t had much penetration with the ball, I think they’ll think about it.
"But at the end of the day, it’s the batting in the first innings that has let the team down so far. You take Steve Smith out of that first innings and it was pretty bad.
"I don’t think they’ll be talking too much about the bowling yet."
The selection of veteran Peter Siddle ahead of Starc and Hazlewood was perhaps the most surprisingly call from Australia's selectors, with world No.1 Pat Cummins and fit-again quick James Pattinson always likely to play.
Siddle finished with figures of 1-43 from 21 tight overs on Friday having starred in Australia’s intra-squad match on a green pitch in Southampton last week.
Ponting was impressed with how the Victorian performed on Friday, but said his style of bowling may become less effective later in the match on a pitch that is vastly different to the one in the warm-up game.
"I must admit, I was surprised that one of Hazlewood or Starc didn’t play," he said. "But the feedback coming out of that (warm-up) game was how impressive Siddle was and that he bowled unbelievably well. Someone like Siddle, if he gets the ball in the right areas more often than not on a wicket that's doing something, they become your most dangerous bowler.
"I can understand why he was picked.
"He did bowl well (on Friday), he was asking a lot of questions and challenging the batters.
"When he was named in the squad, the first thing I thought was 'they'll wait to get the conditions that might be a bit greener or overcast'. They've gone with him in this first Test, probably on the form in the warm-up game and his form with Essex.
"When Tests come to the fourth and fifth day when there's going to be very little in the wicket for him, I think that’s when he'll find it hard. He hasn't got the penetration that Hazlewood and Starc have got so he has to do other things exceptionally well to get wickets, like bowl a lot of maiden overs and build pressure. It'll be hard to get a breakthrough as this wicket flattens out."
Ponting also gave an insight into the unorthodox technique of England opener Rory Burns, who scored his maiden Test hundred on Friday.
Ponting played with Burns during his short stint with English county side Surrey in 2013, after his retirement from international cricket, and said he had tried to convince the then 22-year-old Burns to change his game, to no avail.
"The one thing I tried to do the whole time I was there was to change his technique," he said. "I was forever trying to get him to change his grip and square the bat face up a little bit more.
"He tried (to change) but the hardest thing in coaching is when you see things like that, where everything is nowhere near the textbook, it's hard to get guys to make any kind of change when it’s something they’ve done for 20 years.
"Steve Smith always talks about the feel of the bat in his hand, so changing things with someone like Rory Burns would make everything feel so foreign. They'll try for two minutes but then they'll go back to what they know pretty quickly.
"I was trying to help him but if it's too much of a change, you've just got to let them get on with it.
"He just scored an Ashes hundred so he must be doing something right."
2019 Qantas Ashes Tour of England
Australia squad: Tim Paine (c), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner.
England squad: Joe Root (c), Moeen Ali, Jimmy Anderson, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes (vc), Olly Stone, Chris Woakes.
Tour match: Australians v Worcestershire, August 7-9
Second Test: August 14-18,Lord's
Third Test: August 22-26, Headingley
Tour match: Australians v Derbyshire, August 29-31
Fourth Test: September 4-8, Old Trafford
Fifth Test: September 12-16, The Oval