Ricky Ponting backs bolter Aaron Finch to open in Pakistan Tests
Aaron Finch, 31, has scored 4957 runs for Australia in limited-overs cricket without wearing the Baggy Green. @AFP

Ricky Ponting believes that Australia‘s selection panel made the right decision in handing limited-overs specialist Aaron Finch a maiden Test call-up and in recalling the experienced Peter Siddle in a rejigged Test squad to play Pakistan in the UAE in October.

Finch, Australia’s T20I skipper and ODI deputy, and Siddle, who last played international cricket in November 2016, were both named as part of seven new faces in a 15-member squad Tuesday, the first named under the new watch of Test captain Tim Paine and head coach Justin Langer.

Finch, 31, has scored 4957 runs for Australia in limited-overs cricket without wearing the Baggy Green, which stands as the record for most international runs scored without playing Test cricket. His selection for the Test comes during a year in which he has scored 900 runs in 17 international matches for Australia, including three ODI centuries and a world record 172 in T20Is.

“I’ve seen Finchy up close and personal over the last seven or eight months … (and) there’s no doubt he’s a different player than even he was 12 months ago,” Ponting told cricket.com.au. “He understands his own game better than he ever has. His four-day cricket for Victoria has probably been better than anyone else in the country, probably apart from (Matt) Renshaw.”

Finch and Usman Khawaja are the frontrunners to open in the UAE, and Ponting, having worked with Australia as assistant coach this year, backed the Victorian batsman to get the nod against Pakistan as opener.

“Definitely. He hasn’t done that for Victoria over the last few years but I think the conditions over there will suit that for him,” said Ponting. “The best time to bat in those conditions over there is against the new ball. He can be quite aggressive as well at the top, he’s a naturally aggressive player and he scores quite quickly when he bats.

“That could be a really good way to set up a lot of the games over in that part of the world; get off to a flyer, get yourself in before the conditions get tougher and the spinners come on and the ball starts reversing.”

Ponting also backed the inclusion of his former team-mate Siddle, who while playing for Essex in count cricket last month crossed the milestone of 500 first-class wickets.

“A lot of people might be surprised to see (Siddle’s) name back in a Test squad,” said Ponting. “But if you look at last summer, talking to him and a few of his Victorian teammates, he bowled as well he’s bowled in a long time. Reading between the lines with someone like him, they’d be looking at someone to just do a job, tie up an end. He’s good when the ball reverse swings and he’s got that experience on his side, which a lot of players in that squad might not have. If you speak to people in the know, they’ve given him a lot of praise.”