Ashes 2019: Ponting wants Australia to remain unchanged for Headingley Test
Will Australia play both Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins at Leeds?

Former captain Ricky Ponting feels Australia will benefit most if they head into the third Test at Leeds starting Thursday unchanged. England, on Monday, announced their squad of 12 for the third Test, which was the same as the second game at Lord’s and Ponting believes Australia can afford to stick to the same XI given the visitors have the luxury of a 1-0 lead.

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An unchanged XI would mean that Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson continue to rest. While Starc is yet to get a game, Pattinson played the first Test where he picked up 2/82 and scored a crucial unbeaten 47 in Australia’s second innings. But with a history of injuries behind him, the management decided to rest Pattinson and had him replaced with Josh Hazlewood. He claimed 3/58 and looked impressive playing his first Test of the year.

READ: England name unchanged squad for Leeds Test, Anderson being monitored

Australia coach Justin Langer has repeatedly stressed how it is important to manage the workload of Australia’s pace trio of Hazlewood, Starc and Pat Cummins, on the basis of which it was believed that Pattinson comes back and takes his place. Pattinson can return provided Peter Siddle is offered a break but Ponting suggested Headingley’s conditions are idea for the 34-year-old fast bowler.

“Josh was outstanding throughout the (second) Test match so you’d like to think he stays in,” Ponting told cricket.com.au. “It might be Siddle’s turn to sit out and Pattinson comes in. But in saying that, if there’s conditions in the UK that generally suit someone who bowls like Siddle, it’s been Leeds historically.

“Especially if there’s a bit of cloud overheard, it’s been a nightmare to face those sort of guys who hit the seam and wobble the ball and make scoring tough. He’s done a good job so far in the series so if the conditions suit him, they might go with the same line-up again. It’s a pretty good position to be in.

“No one has even spoken about Starc coming into the side. As soon as Pattinson missed, we’re just waiting for him to come back in. Right now, you’d think something out of the ordinary would have to happen for Starc to get a game at all. But they’ll wait until they get there and take a look at the conditions.”

Ponting also weighed in on Australia’s opening combination featuring Cameron Bancroft and David Warner, both of whom are yet to get going so far in four innings. Between them, Bancroft and Warner have managed just 62 runs in four innings and while Ponting thinks the topic might be up for a discussion within the management, there is not need to panic just yet.

“I don’t think Davey would be an issue or a concern, but I’m sure there’ll be a bit of chat about Bancroft and his position. Once again, he was able to hang in there for a while (during his 40-ball innings of 16 on Sunday)… but generally when batsmen get through that, you’d expect to go on and make some runs,” he said.

“At the moment, he’s getting through the hardest bit and then not going on. I’m sure there’ll be some chat and concern about that. But (Australia) are sitting in a pretty good position. And if you compare the two teams, I think there’s probably a similar amount of concern about the England top order at the moment. Australia still have the momentum in the series. They’re 1-0 up with three to play and having the Ashes in their hands, England are going to have to do something pretty special to turn it around. So I don’t think there’s any need to be panicking too much.”

Bancroft, in four innings, has managed 69 runs, but Warner has fared worse averaging a poor 4.5 and not being able to enter the double figures even once. But despite the rare failure, Ponting has backed the left-handed opener, citing example of how well Warner looked during the second half of the World Cup.

“They’ve got to get something out of Davey as well,” he said. “That’s going to be as big a challenge as the other opening spot.

“It doesn’t look like he’s out of touch. During the back-end of the World Cup, I’ve not sure I’ve seen him bat better than that. I know it’s a different format… but he came back in and looked like he hadn’t left the game.

“He’s just got to get back to remembering what he does and what he’s thinking when he plays well and try and mirror that. If he does all the right things, being the class player he is, it’ll turn around for him.”