Manchester: Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting feels left-arm pacer Mitchell Starc could have had an impact if he bowled against Ben Stokes during England’s improbable win in the third Ashes Test at Headingley.
Stokes played an epic unbeaten knock of 135, which helped England snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in Leeds.
England started the fourth day looking to prevent Australia from retaining the Ashes. They got to 286/9, still needing 73 runs for an improbable victory in their chase of 359.
But World Cup hero Stokes joined hands with No. 11 batsman Jack Leach and did the unthinkable by smashing eight sixes to all corners of the ground and helped the Three Lions level the fire-match series.
Starc is yet to play in the ongoing Ashes as Australia have rotated with their quicks.
“I must admit, as the game was sort of slipping away the other day the only image I had in my head was Starc bowling Stokes at The Oval in that World Cup with a yorker right at the base of off-stump,” Ponting was quoted as saying. “And even someone like (No.11) Jack Leach, I’m not sure he would have been that keen on facing Mitchell Starc at 150kph with the ball reversing back onto his toes either.”
The likes of Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and James Pattinson failed to get rid of Leach who batted on with Stokes who went berserk and hit eight sixes in his innings along with 11 fours to take England over the line.
“Cummins won’t be coming out of the side. I think if they look at making a change I think it will have to be Pattinson (who was rested for Lord’s) again,” he said. “Hazlewood, with the exception of his spell with the second new ball in the second innings, I’m not sure I’ve seen him bowl better than that. That was outstanding from him.”
“Patto (Pattinson), as the game went on I thought he got better. When it looked like he had his rhythm I thought he was really good,” he said.
“But I think they’ll see how (Starc) goes in Derby. If he doesn’t bowl the house down there I think they’ll be reluctant to make change.”
In the fourth Test starting September 4, Australia will welcome back their key batsman Steve Smith who could not take part in third match in Leeds after being ruled out because of delayed concussion.
Ponting said it could be a toss up between opener Marcus Harris and Usman Khawaja as he backed Marnus Labuschagne, who has more than impressed with the bat since replacing Smith, to bat at No.3.
The former Australian skipper feels the three-day tour match in Derby will clear the air a bit on who would play at the Old Trafford.