ICC Hall of Famer Ricky Ponting believes hard-hitting revelation Tim David can be a key figure in Australia’s ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 defence, and has also shared his thoughts on Steve Smith’s selection – or otherwise – in the playing line-up.
David has emerged as a bolter for the squad off the back of a number of headline-grabbing individual performances across domestic cricket.
With the confirmation of Australia’s squad for the tournament imminent, Ponting declared on The ICC Review ‘I would have (him) in the team’.
Why pick David?
“He has improved over the last couple of years, I think he's the sort of player that could actually win the Australian team a World Cup in that finishing sort of role,” said Ponting, before later adding: “Two years ago he was struggling to get a game in the BBL. He was a fringe player at the Perth Scorchers, then moved down to Hobart Hurricanes. He's done really well down there.”
“He's done well in the IPL games he played last season, he's done well in England – and every other tournament he's played around the world.
“He's probably in career-best form right now, and when you've got guys that are at the peak of their powers, I think you just have to play them.”
A batting all-rounder with 14 T20Is under his belt through his time with the Singapore national team, David is eligible to switch allegiances and has compiled more than 2,000 runs in quick time across competitions in Australia, England and India.
Boasting a strike rate of more than 160 in domestic T20 cricket, Ponting feels David’s power could provide Australia with an extra dimension at the death, and sends an ominous warning to their challengers.
“If you ended up with, let's say, Maxwell, Stoinis, Wade and David in that middle order there is a really formidable late-order striking team that no bowling team would want to play against,” he said.
“He's probably 6’2, maybe touching 100 kilograms – a big, strong guy that can hit the ball as clean and as hard as anyone in the world. He’s a good fielder and can bowl some part-time off-spin as well, if required.
“He almost becomes a three-dimensional type player, which makes him even more appealing for the World Cup.”
Where does Steve Smith fit in?
Off the back of Smith indicating earlier this week he wanted to play more aggressive T20 cricket for Australia as opposed to performing a ‘Mr. Fix-it’ role, Ponting indicated Smith’s aspirations raised questions around the team’s approach to the T20 World Cup – and his selection.
“They like to attack in a number three position (Mitch Marsh) and then if that doesn't work, then that's where Smith has been used in the middle to pick up the pieces after a couple of early wickets,” said Ponting.
“It's not an easy role to play. I think in the modern T20 game, no one wants to be playing that role, because it becomes the most difficult role in the game.
“If you're two down early, especially in the Powerplay, we know what the stats say; if you then lose three wickets in the Powerplay you lose about 94-95% of games. So the No.4 slot becomes the difficult one.
“Do they go with the glue in the middle-order and the flexibility that he provides? Or do they go out-and-out power and load the batting line-up with power? So that’s the big decision the selectors are going to have to make.”
Using India’s recent approach to the format as an example, which has netted them 23 wins from their past 27 matches, Ponting raised some doubts over whether Smith is a certainty to feature in Australia’s T20 World Cup XI.
“There's been a real focus on the India batters in particular to up their strike rates as individuals, and if you're not able to do that and be successful doing it then Dravid and Co. have just been trying guys in different spots to find guys who can actually do it,” he said.
“I’ve got a feeling that that might be the way the Aussies go … especially on good wickets here in Australia where spin’s probably going to play a part in the tournament because of the size of the grounds but the wickets won’t turn too much.”
Who is excluded for David?
While Ponting was strong on David being included in the final squad, the tougher question is perhaps around who would be taken out of last year’s successful Australia team to accommodate his inclusion.
Ashton Agar played just one match in the 2021 campaign while Kane Richardson and Mitchell Swepson – the remaining squad members at the tournament – did not make an appearance.
“I went through the (2021) squad of 15 today – they had Agar, Zampa and Swepson as the three spin options, and they’ve obviously got Maxwell there as well who can back them up with some part-time spin if required,” he said.
“The top-order batting with Finch and Warner, they’ve been such good players for such a long time – I know there’s been a bit of conjecture around Aaron Finch and his form for probably around the last 12 months now – and that probably wasn’t helped by a pretty similar dismissal against Zimbabwe in the ODI the other day.
“The talking points on their batting line-up, if you look at it, it’s probably going to be: ‘Are they going to keep backing Finch in for the next couple of months for the World Cup? Is there a role in in the middle-order there somewhere for a Steve Smith for instance?’
“To be honest, if there’s one change, it’s going to be David in, and I don’t know who is coming out.”
Stay tuned to ICC digital channels for the announcement of all T20 World Cup squads.
T20WC 2022 Fixtures
Click here to see the full fixtures for the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022.