Ricky Ponting feels that Perth Scorchers’ Josh Inglis is in the mix to be picked in Australia’s World T20 squad, and believes that the right-hander’s versatility could make him an enchanting pick. Ponting, however, believes that Australia’s biggest area of concern is the ‘finisher’ slot.
After spending half a decade on the fringes, Perth Scorchers’ Josh Inglis catapulted into the spotlight with a 405-run season in BBL 2019/20, as an opener, and the right-hander backed up the stellar campaign with an even better one in 2020/21. Pushed to the middle-order by the management, Inglis amassed 413 runs at a SR of 140.00 in BBL 10 and turned out to be one of the best middle-order bats in the competition, playing the role of both an accumulator and a finisher with utter nonchalance.
With the likes of Matthew Wade, Alex Carey and Josh Philippe already in the mix, Inglis is currently not in the picture for national selection, but former Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting believes that the 26-year-old could be a bolter who could solve a lot of problems at once.
"The keeper-batsman is probably the slot they'd be losing the most sleep over right now," Ponting told cricket.com.au.
"They've still got some questions to answer as far as what their overall squad looks like and I think the biggest one is 'Who is going to be standing behind the stumps with the gloves on?' They have tried a few blokes – Wade has been there, Phillipe has just played as a batter, Alex Carey has been in and out and tried in a few different batting spots.
"Josh Inglis' name could be thrown into the ring as well – I really liked what I saw from him batting in the middle order in last summer's BBL. He plays spin really well and you think about where the World Cup is going to be (in India or the UAE), he could be a name that could come up (for selection)."
However, Ponting reckoned that the real area of concern for the Aussies lies in the finisher’s slot. Barring Glenn Maxwell - who at No.4 for the national team - none of the power-hitters, be it Mitch Marsh, Marcus Stoinis or Ashton Turner, have succeeded in playing the finisher’s role in T20 cricket for the national team, and Ponting is of the opinion that it is an area which the selectors will be worried about, particularly given how other teams have world-class batters in the position.
"The spot I think they've always been worried about is that finishing role, and one of the reasons for that is that all of our best batsmen bat in the top four in the Big Bash, so you've actually got no one that's consistently batting in that area," explained Ponting.
"It's a very specialist position to be able to go in with three of four overs to go, with 50 runs needed and be able to do it. Dhoni has been in that one spot his whole career and no wonder he's so good at it. Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard are similar – these guys continually win games of cricket for their country and in the IPL, they're used to going in batting at those spots.
"That's what we've got to find. Is it going to be (Glenn) Maxwell and Mitchell Marsh that are going to finish the games, is it going to be (Marcus) Stoinis? I think that's the area that they're more worried about. The top order will look after itself because everyone is batting in the top order in Big Bash."
All of Stoinis, Marsh, Maxwell bat in the top-order for their respective BBL franchises and this, according to Ponting, is problematic. The former Aussie skipper pointed out how power-hitters batting up the order in BBL does not benefit the national side, but admitted that it will be unfair to ‘convince’ BBL franchises to use their best batters as finishers for the sake of the national side.
"It has to be a direction from the Australian team selectors, because if teams are being picked on Big Bash (form) then obviously if you're batting at five and six, you're going to look up at the end of the series and see they're not at the top of the run scorers," said Ponting.
"But the other thing is, if I'm (coach) Adam Voges at Perth Scorchers, I don't want Mitchell Marsh batting at six when the game is on the line. So these are the challenges aren't they?
"I think the guys have got the skills to bat there. I saw Stoinis at Delhi last year, he's opened the last few years of BBL and done a great job for the Melbourne Stars, but I needed someone that could finish games for us and he won two or three games off his own bat. So, it's there – but they will get better at it the more they do it. How they find a way for these guys to do it more, I'm not sure."