Ponting calls for Warner, Hughes for Ashes opener

October 22, 2013

ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) — Former captain Ricky Ponting has urged Australia’s cricket selectors to show faith in batsmen David Warner and Phil Hughes, saying he would pick both for next month’s Ashes opener against England.

Ponting said he was sure that after a number of disciplinary issues, opening batsman Warner had learned his lesson and was ready to take his place in the Australian lineup. He rated Hughes as one of Australia’s best young batsman and also called for the selection of erratic fast bowler Mitchell Johnson

Ponting recently has been outspoken in his opinion of Australian cricket and said the inconsistent treatment meted out to Hughes by the selectors highlighted one of its greatest faults.

“He is clearly our best young batsman in the country,” Ponting told the Australian Associated Press. “The guy knows how to bat. He knows how to score runs. And he’s just the sort of character that you love to have around your team.

“He would be somebody that I would give a spot in the order and let him go about making that his own ... if you give him a bit of love and a bit of stability around his game, I’m sure he’ll come good.”

Though only 24, Hughes has already been dropped three times from the Australian test team. Warner has also been unable to establish a regular place and both have been moved up and down the batting order.

“I’d like to see the selectors pick who they believe their best six batsmen are for the first test and then actually stick when them for the whole series,” Ponting said. “Give them a bit of confidence and a bit of security, knowing that they’re not playing for their spot each time they walk out on to the field. And then, at the end of the five (Ashes) tests, if some of the batsmen haven’t done it, then it probably is time to move on and look for someone else.”

Australia has lost four of the five Ashes since 2005, when Ponting’s squad lost in England to end an almost two-decade period of domination. That included a home series defeat in 2010-11 and the most recent series that finished in England in August.

Warner was suspended from the Australian squad for a month for punching young England batsman Joe Root in a nightclub prior to the last series in England. He was disciplined for a Twitter tirade against two Australian journalists and more recently punished for missing a Sydney club match.

Ponting said Warner’s behavior might be a reflection of his cricket predicament.

“To me, some of the things that have happened have just been almost tell-tale signs of someone just under extreme pressure,” Ponting said. “The thing about Davey, he hasn’t had a break from any cricket for about two years ... and it’s such a high-pressurized environment, you need to be able to get away and let a bit of steam off here and there.

“Whenever he has tried to do that, he has got himself in a little bit of trouble. He would have learnt from that and it will make him a better person and hopefully a better cricketer.”