Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has backed Joe Burns to beat Will Pucovski to selection in the first Test of the summer but questioned selectors for suggesting they’d seek David Warner’s input on the decision.
Despite an avalanche of runs from Pucovski in the Sheffield Shield and a lean period for Burns at the same time, the Queenslander looks the favourite to open at Adelaide Oval.
Both coach Justin Langer and chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns have indicated as much, suggesting Burns’ chemistry with Warner and his status as the incumbent in a winning side weighed heavily in his favour.
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Ponting sees the rationale to that, having seen at his duty as Test captain to do whatever he could to keep a player in the side, but does not see the logic to bringing the opinion of Warner into the matter.
“Of course, we talk to David,” Hohns said following the announcement of Australia’s 17-man squad.
“He is a very senior player. He is very experienced and it’s important that he is comfortable too providing we are, of course, with the person he opens with.
It goes a long way in forming an opening partnership – you have to be comfortable with your partner. We certainly do consult players on such issues.”
It was a comment Ponting found perplexing from the chairman of selectors.
“I’m surprised they’re even asking him, to be honest,” Ponting told cricket.com.au.
“I know what they’re talking about because they have done well when they’ve played together. It’s an interesting thing for a selector to come out and say.
“At the end of the day, they’ve just got to pick who they think the best player is. And if they think their best player and best option is Joe Burns, then stick with him. If they think Pucovski is a better player here and now, they should go with him.”
While Ponting expects Pucovski to be “the next cab off the rank” wherever a spot in the batting order opens up, he stressed the need to remember Burns’ contributions to Australia’s golden summer last season.
The right-hander was the third highest run-scorer in an Australian team that won all five of its Tests.
“Burns hasn’t done much wrong. If you go back to last summer, he played really well in the first Test in Brisbane and I remember saying then to lock him in and give him a good go at it for a while.
“We read a lot into what’s happened in the first few rounds of Shield cricket, and because they haven’t played a Test match for so long, a lot people are forgetting what happened last summer.
“The boys have been on a roll with their performances in Test cricket and I always say you don’t want to be making too many changes if you don’t need to.”