Domain Test Series v Pakistan
Ponting's verdict on Test future for Marsh, Khawaja
Omitted from Australia's Test squad to face Pakistan, Australia legend Ricky Ponting has his say on the future for two batsman that have been a fixture in recent times
15 November 2019, 08:11 PM AEST
Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting says Shaun Marsh's days as a Test cricketer are most likely all but over and hinted that Usman Khawaja's future prospects may also be dented by a need to regenerate Australia's batting line-up ahead of their next Ashes campaign.
Marsh (36) and Khawaja (33 next month) were among the notable omissions from Australia's Test squad announced Thursday, the experienced duo not included in a top seven for next week's Brisbane Test that is set to feature just two players – Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head – under the age of 30.
Ponting has long been an advocate of Khawaja, who was dropped during the Ashes this year but had been backed to return this summer given he averages 53 in Tests at home.
Ponting stopped short of declaring Khawaja's Test career over but said Australian selectors must bring some younger batsmen into the side ahead of their next showdown against England in the summer of 2021-22.
"That's a tough question to answer; are they looking past him?" Ponting told cricket.com.au of Khawaja, who has averaged 35 in his past 20 Tests.
"Everything they need to be doing now is building towards the next Ashes series. It's always important a couple of years out to start building if you have those young players there to bring in.
"I don't know if they've put a line through him. But all anyone can do is go back and make runs in Shield cricket and hopefully he can do that.
"He just hasn't got enough Shield runs, bottom line.
"I'm probably a little bit surprised that he's not playing. I've always been a big supporter of him, and he's always been a highly-talented player who does excel in Australia.
"One thing he's done is improved his play of spin. There was always a knock on him playing spin; he's improved that and if anything, his play against fast bowling has let him down in the last 12-18 months."
Ponting knows better than most the risks involved with not having a varied age demographic in a Test side having watched Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Justin Langer, Damien Martyn and Adam Gilchrist all retire in the space of 12 months more than a decade ago.
Similarly, Michael Clarke, Chris Rogers, Shane Watson and Brad Haddin all retired following the 2015 Ashes series, with Mitchell Johnson joining them three months later.
Ponting believes 21-year-old Will Pucovski would have been given a chance this summer had he not made himself unavailable for mental-health reasons, saying the Victorian is a prime example of a young batting talent that needs to be exposed to Test level before the next blockbuster series against England.
"The best teams I played in always had an ability to bring a youngster in at No.5 and No.6," he said.
"That's the way I started and a lot of guys I played with came in down the order … then eventually moved up.
"I'm sure that was the plan with Pucovski, which makes it all the more disappointing for him.
"Reading between the lines, it looked like he would have been a part of that squad. That's terrible news for him and obviously we wish him all the best.
"That regeneration is always really important. You can't afford to get to the stage that we got to, where we had four or five or six guys retire basically in the one year. You've got to try and avoid that."
While Labuschagne and Head (both 25) are the only members in the top seven for next week's Test in their twenties, Steve Smith (30), Joe Burns (30) and Matthew Wade (31) are still relatively young, while David Warner (33) and Tim Paine (34) could also conceivably be available the next time Australia face England.
But Ponting said the omission of Marsh, one of the leading run-scorers in the Marsh Sheffield Shield so far this season, indicated his 38-Test career may well be over.
"He's the form player in Shield cricket and the fact they haven't picked him now probably means his time is up," he said of Marsh, who will be 38 when England next arrive in Australia.
"There's no doubt what a talent he is … but if he was going to get picked, it would be in this series."
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.
Warm-up match: Australia A v Pakistan, match drawn
Warm-up match: v Cricket Australia XI, November 15-16, WACA Ground
First Test: November 21-25, Gabba (Seven, Fox & Kayo)