Monday, June 17, 2024

Ashes 2023: Ricky Ponting predicts playing XIs for second Test

Former skipper Ricky Ponting predicts that an unchanged Australia will take on an England side with a different balance to their attack in the second Ashes Test at Lord’s.

Pat Cummins steered Australia to a famous two-wicket win in the first test of the new ICC World Test Championship cycle at Edgbaston, putting the tourists 1-0 up in the five-match series.

The second Test begins at Lord’s on June 28, and Ponting believes that the only reason Australia will change their playing XI is if there are injury concerns over a couple of the bowling attack, states ICC.

“Because there’s an eight-day break between these two games, I don’t think they’ll make any changes,” Ponting told ICC. “Australian cricket teams through history have not liked to change winning teams and winning formulas.”

“The only concern I would have is that (Josh) Hazelwood didn’t bowl a lot during the game. I’m not sure if they were trying to nurse him through this first Test back, or if there is a little bit of a niggle again or something that’s not quite right. But I just noticed as the game went on, there seemed like there could have been a couple of occasions where Hazelwood could have bowled more and they didn’t opt to do that.

“Exactly the same with Cameron Green, actually. I was a bit surprised at how little he bowled during this game, especially in the second innings.

“So I’m not expecting any change, but it wouldn’t surprise me just considering how little those two bowled.”

Ponting is expecting England to make one significant change to their side for Lord’s, however.

Spinner Moeen Ali suffered a finger injury in his first red-ball appearance for England for almost two years, putting his participation in the second Test in doubt. And how Moeen is replaced in the England XI is one of the big selection calls ahead of that second Test.

“As far as I’m concerned, England have more questions to answer than Australia. On their style of play, but also now they’ve got some selection issues that they’re going to have to deal with as well,” Ponting said.

“Moeen can’t play the next game with his finger the way it is.

“I think if the wicket is really flat, they’ll obviously go for a like-for-like replacement with another spinner. I don’t know a lot about England’s County Cricket and who the spinners are around at the moment. But Liam Dawson’s name was one that was thrown around a lot in the commentary box, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s included in their squad.

“The other way they could go is to play four fast bowlers and just use Joe Root as their spinning option. Joe was able to bowl 13 or 14 overs straight, picked up one wicket, had another dropped chance off his own bowling. So that’s something they could think about.”

Ponting is leaning toward England opting to pick four quicks. And one of the reasons for that would be to include the extra pace of Mark Wood, particularly given England’s lack of an ‘enforcer’ to implement short-ball tactics.

“If the wicket at Lord’s offers a little bit more, which I think it will – Lord’s will offer more for the seamers than the wicket did at Edgbaston.

“Ben Stokes has been the enforcer for England in the past doing that, but his body’s not going to allow him to do that role for England either. So coming into Lord’s, it could be Mark Wood.

“They might bring Wood into the team, which offers something a bit different. He’s obviously a lot quicker and bowls a really good short ball.”

The make-up of England’s top seven was a much-discussed element of selection prior to the series, with Jonny Bairstow coming back into the team after recovering from a broken leg.

Harry Brook’s emergence at the number five spot where Bairstow excelled in 2022 meant a reshuffle was required, and England’s solution was for Bairstow to replace wicketkeeper Ben Foakes.

Ponting believes that Bairstow’s handful of errors with the gloves was one of the primary reasons why England lost the Test. But he is also expecting the 33-year-old to remain behind the stumps at Lord’s, not least to lengthen England’s batting.

“Jonny Bairstow actually had a very ordinary game behind the stumps, there’s about four chances that he put down. And on flat wickets, if they want flat wickets, you cannot afford your keeper to be making mistakes. If you look at those mistakes by themselves, some people might say those mistakes could have cost him the Test match.

“I think now with Mo not being there, their tail is already going to be longer, so I think they’ll want their keeper to be their best batter.

“So I think Bairstow will stay in, but there’s definitely going to be questions about his keeping if it doesn’t improve from that first game.

“I’m no wicketkeeping expert, I’m just reading and listening to what a lot of the other people are saying. But they were sort of saying he just looked a bit slow and maybe a bit heavy on his feet. And that’s probably a result of having as long off from the international game as he did.”

Ponting’s predicted XIs for the Lord’s Test

Australia: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Scott Boland.

England: Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Ollie Robinson, Stuart Broad, Mark Wood, James Anderson.

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