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Ponting reveals his pick for next Australia ODI captain

ICC Review

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Two-time World Cup winning skipper Ricky Ponting has used the latest episode of The ICC Review to reveal who he thinks will take over from Aaron Finch and become Australia's next ODI captain.

Finch announced his retirement from ODIs during Australia's recent home series against New Zealand with less than a year to go before the start of the 2023 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup in India.

It means Australia must move quickly to decide who takes the captaincy reins from Finch and Ponting is confident he knows who Australia will call on to fill the void for next year's event in the sub-continent.

Video cwc19 19 Sep 22
Ponting picks next Australia ODI captain | The ICC Review

"I think it’ll be Pat Cummins, to be honest," Ponting told host Sanjana Ganesan on The ICC Review.

"I know he doesn’t play all the ODIs for obvious reasons, because his workload in Test cricket has been, like all the fast bowlers, very high in the last few years. 

"I know they are very conscious of making sure that they’ve got Cummins, (Josh) Hazlewood and (Mitchell) Starc a 100 percent fit and healthy for the big Test series to come around. 

"But look, I’ll be surprised if it wasn’t Pat Cummins."

Steve Smith was stripped of captaincy and banned from leading Australia for two years, while his deputy Warner was handed a lifelong leadership ban for their roles in the 2018 ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.

However, Ponting pointed to Smith's current role as Test vice-captain as reason enough to overturn Warner's ban.

"I’m just basing this on what’s happened with Steve Smith – he is now the Test vice-captain again, having been the captain and really at the centre of the whole controversy in Cape Town," Ponting noted.

"He is now the Test vice-captain, which means obviously that if Pat Cummins ever misses a Test, then Steve Smith is going to be the captain of Australia again in Test match cricket. 

"So, if that’s the case, and all being even and reasonably fair, then I think it would be OK, as far as I’m concerned, for David Warner to have his name (in the ring). 

"Not saying that they have to make him captain, but he should be able to be in the conversation."

Finch played 146 ODIs during his career, averaging 38.89 with the bat and his tally of 17 hundreds in ODIs is the third-most by an Australian player. 

But an average of just 12.42 in ODIs in 2022 meant the writing was on the wall for the experienced right-hander and Ponting praised the 35-year-old for walking away when he did.

"I wasn’t surprised actually," Ponting said. 

Video ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021 28 Oct 21
Vintage Aaron Finch

"I sort of personally felt that he was probably one game away or one failure away from getting dropped anyway. That’s how bad his last 12 months have been in one-day international cricket.

"I think it was the right time. I actually thought it was really noble, what he said as well, that stepping down when he did, it gives the next captain a reasonable time leading in to get themselves and his team ready for the next World Cup.

"I was afforded a similar thing as well when I took over the captaincy, and when I stood down and Michael Clarke took over, I was very aware of what was coming up. I wanted to give the next captain a very good run into the next big tournament that they played.”

Just who replaces Finch and partners Warner at the top of Australia's batting order also remains unclear, with Ponting suggesting Test star Marnus Labuschagne, among others, as a possible left-field candidate.

"We saw Josh Inglis play the last ODI game, opening the batting," said Ponting. "Inglis went up there and Finch played his last game. 

"There will be guys like Travis Head as well. (He is) a really underrated ODI player for Australia. The last series he played for Australia, I think it was against Pakistan in UAE, he had an unbelievably good tournament there. He has played a fair bit for Australia in the past and opened, batted in the middle-order. 

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"There will be Josh Phillipe, there will be other guys like that they’ll talk about as far as opening the batting is concerned. It could be even someone that’s actually in the team now. 

"Marnus Labuschagne could do a good job opening the batting as well. Obviously No.3 in Test cricket, he is used to facing the new red ball, which is more often than not does a bit more than the white ball. 

"So it might be as simple as flipping him at the top of the order and they’ve still got Warner there, then they got the left hand-right hand combination that I was talking about.

"When Mitchell Marsh comes back into that No.3 spot, probably Steve Smith can slide into Labuschagne’s spot at No.4. And all of a sudden, they look like they’ve got a good line-up going forward."

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