Matthew Wade next in line for Tests but it won’t happen at the SCG: Ricky Ponting
Ricky Ponting has backed Matthew Wade for a Test recall. © AFP

Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting believes that discarded wicketkeeper-batsman Matthew Wade is next in line to be added to the Test squad, but does not foresee changes to the home team’s lineup for the Sydney Test against India.

Wade, 30, has not played a Test for Australia since September 2017 with current captain Tim Paine a surprise recall later that year when England arrived for the Ashes. Wade was axed after averaging under 20 in 10 Tests since being called back in November 2016. His recent Sheffield Shield form and runs in the ongoing Big Bash League have kept Wade in the headlines.

“For (those next in line for) a Test batting spot, I said Matthew Wade a few weeks ago,” Ponting told cricket.com.au. “He’s the form player in the Sheffield Shield, no doubt about that – 571 runs I think he’s made so far. We’ve seen already in the Big Bash as well that he’s in really good touch, and he probably deserves a chance over anybody else right now because he’s simply put the numbers on the board.

“And that’s one of the big things I know Justin Langer and the selectors are talking about – if you’re scoring runs, then you’re a great chance of getting picked. So you can’t fault what Matthew Wade’s done so far this season.”

Australia are locked in the third Test versus India at the MCG, where they were bowled out for 151 after conceding a total of 443/7 declared in the visitors’ first innings. They dropped Peter Handscomb and brought back Mitchell Marsh, who made 9. The openers Marcus Harris (22) and Aaron Finch (8) failed while Travis Head (20) and Shaun Marsh (19) fell cheaply too.

According to Ponting, the selectors were not likely to shake up the squad for the final Test starting January 3.

“I don’t think they’ll change for next week,” Ponting said. “One, because there’s just not too many (batsmen) that can come in. And it’s hard as well now with the Big Bash having started that no-one’s played any Sheffield Shield cricket over the last few weeks to try to put up a case to get into the side.

“So that’s where I think it’s very difficult in Australia … some of our Shield players might get on a bit of a run towards the back-end (approaching Christmas), and then Big Bash starts and they’re put on ice for another seven or eight weeks, and then they’ve got to get back into Sheffield Shield mode again.

“So there’s a lot of challenges there. Unless there’s injuries coming out of the next couple of days, I think they’ll go with a pretty similar side in Sydney.”