Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting wants the team management to show faith in under-fire Joe Burns and retain him in the Test series opener against India, starting here on Thursday.
The 31-year-old Burns has been going through a terrible phase, having scored just 62 runs at 6.89 with a highest score of 29 in his last nine first-class innings.
He scored 4, 0, 0, 1 in his last four innings during the two warm-up games ahead of the four-Test series against India.
“I’m sticking with Joe Burns. I’ve heard a lot of suggestions that he hasn’t scored enough runs to stay in the side but I’m keeping him in there,” Ponting said on Channel Seven.
“He made 40 in his last Test innings, he’s made four Test hundreds, averages almost 40 – I’m sticking with him and showing some faith. I think he’s good enough to get through it.”
There has been a lot of debate regarding the opening slot following Burns’ worrying form and the injury to David Warner, who was ruled out of the first Test due to a groin problem.
Will Pucovski, who was primed to open in the first Test, too was ruled out after suffering a concussion in the first warm-up game, forcing selectors to add Marcus Harris to the squad.
“What Marcus Harris hasn’t done is score (Test) hundreds – (his) highest score is 70-odd, (whereas) Joe Burns can score Test match hundreds. I’m sticking with him,” Ponting said.
Ponting also believes that wicketkeeper-batsman Matthew Wade should be elevated to the opener’s role, which will pave the way for 21-year-old all-rounder Cameron Green’s inclusion in the playing XI.
“What I am doing is moving Matthew Wade up to the top of the order to open with (Burns), (give) a left-hand, right-hand combination,” Ponting said.
“We saw last time India were out here and we had two left-handers at the top of the order, the India bowling attack absolutely dominated the two lefties, so that’s the way I’m going.”
Wade had scored successive fifties in the last two T20Is against India and Ponting said he will be excited to grab the opportunity of opening the innings in the first Test.
“I think you’ve got to tell Wade it’s just for one game. ‘Wadey’ will want to do it; he’ll be excited by this, he’s that sort of character that he’d love the chance to get up there and take on the Indian opening bowlers in a Test match. He won’t shy away from it.”
Green, who scored a century and took two wickets in the first warm-up game, had suffered a mild concussion in the second practice match, but coach Justin Langer said he will make his debut in Adelaide, provided he clears the fitness test.
“Hopefully he’s fit – he had that concussion sub in the last Australia A game but he’s in very, very good form so I’d slot him in at number six,” Ponting said.
“I’m really excited by him and looking forward to watching him play.”