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Don’t Expect Changes for Sydney But Matthew Wade an Option in Tests – Ricky Ponting

Cricketnext Staff | Updated: December 29, 2018, 12:43 PM IST
Don’t Expect Changes for Sydney But Matthew Wade an Option in Tests – Ricky Ponting

Matthew Wade. (Image credit: BCCI)

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With the Australian batting line-up struggling against the Indian bowling attack in the ongoing Test series, former captain Ricky Ponting believes that Matthew Wade could be the solution to the hosts' ailing issue. Ponting also pointed out that unfortunately for the Australians most of the batsmen waiting to push their case for selection are currently playing in the BBL and not red-ball cricket in the form of Sheffield Shield.

Australia were bowled out for 151 in the first innings against India in the Boxing Day Test and conceded a lead 292.

Ponting also does not see the Australian team ringing in the changes for the fourth Test which begins on January 3 in Sydney.

"I don't think they'll change for next week," Ponting told cricket.com.au. "One, because there's just not too many (batsmen) that can come in. And it's hard as well now with the Big Bash having started that no-one's played any Sheffield Shield cricket over the last few weeks to try to put up a case to get into the side.

"So that's where I think it's very difficult in Australia … some of our Shield players might get on a bit of a run towards the back-end (approaching Christmas), and then Big Bash starts and they're put on ice for another seven or eight weeks, and then they've got to get back into Sheffield Shield mode again.

"So there's a lot of challenges there. Unless there's injuries coming out of the next couple of days, I think they'll go with a pretty similar side in Sydney."

The squad for the fourth Test has been named and a change now would see a batsman make quite a jump in the queue which also has Peter Handscomb.

According to Ponting, Wade’s recent form though puts him in a good place as the selectors look for alternatives for the series against Sri Lanka in February.

So far this season, Wade is the top run-scorer in the JLT Sheffield Shield, with an average of 63.44, and has continued that in the BBL where he scored 52 and 85 in his last two outings at the top of the order.

"For (those next in line for) a Test batting spot, I said Matthew Wade a few weeks ago," Ponting said. "He's the form player in the Sheffield Shield, no doubt about that – 571 runs I think he's made so far.

"We've seen already in the Big Bash as well that he's in really good touch, and he probably deserves a chance over anybody else right now because he's simply put the numbers on the board.

"And that's one of the big things I know Justin Langer and the selectors are talking about – if you're scoring runs, then you're a great chance of getting picked. So you can't fault what Matthew Wade's done so far this season."

A return to Test cricket would be a great comeback for Wade who was axed ahead of 2017/18 Ashes after playing 22-matches in the Baggy Green.

"I don't think I'll probably play Test cricket again, not as a wicketkeeper-batter anyway," Wade had told cricket.com.au in September. "I want to be as good a batter as I can be. I'd like to be able to not keep and play as a batter in the last few years of my career. That's where I'd like to get to."

If Wade can take his domestic form to the international level, he would be an encouraging factor for the Australian Test team who have scored just one century (by Usman Khawaja) in 17 team innings since the 2018 New Year's Test in Sydney.

The frailties of the batting line-up were exposed again according to Ponting, who believes that this Indian attack is not something most of the Australian batsmen would have been used to.

"It's hard to say much positive about (the batting performance), really," Ponting added. "I think there'll be a few guys that wouldn't be overly happy with the shots that they played.

"But some of the things we saw today are just signs of batsmen that are under pressure.

"They know it's a very good Indian attack that they're facing, and some of the guys haven't been confronted with good quality bowling like that probably before in their careers.

"So at 346 behind now, it's going to take a bit of a miracle to see anything other than an Indian win coming out of this Test match."
First Published: December 29, 2018, 12:43 PM IST
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