Ponting has his say on key Australian players following a mixed IPL

New Delhi, May 27 (UNI) Former Australia skipper and Delhi Capitals head coach Ricky Ponting gave his take on the IPL performance of some key Australian players with an eye on the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024.

The IPL featured a number of regulars from the Australian Men’s T20 World Cup squad.

While the likes of Travis Head set the tournament on fire with his explosive batting, others like David Warner and Mitchell Marsh had an indifferent run for the majority of the tournament, while Mitchell Starc struggled for consistency early on before producing back-to-back Player of the Match performances in his last two appearances in Kolkata Knight Riders’ title-winning run.

The long-serving member of the Australian team David Warner had an IPL to forget, scoring merely 168 runs at an average of 21 in an injury-riddled season for Ponting’s Delhi Capitals. Despite his recent returns, Ponting backed the player to come good in the T20 World Cup.

Ponting was dismayed by the fact that Warner lost his form after a good start, an ICC report said.

“He actually started the tournament really well. His scoring rate was really good,” Ponting added.

“At the start of the tournament, he was opening the batting for us with Mitchell Marsh and that combination was working really well.”

However, the partnership broke after Marsh had to return home due to an injury, and Warner lost his touch, while also incurring a subsequent injury to his hand.

“He (Warner) didn’t really hit scores, and then he got a nasty hit on his hand. Basically, had the worst bone bruising and his contusion on the back of his hand that he’s ever seen,” Ponting said.

But Ponting didn’t have many concerns regarding the 37-year-old veteran.

“He’s a feisty little competitor that once the World Cup comes around, he hits the Australian colours back on again,” Ponting said.

“Then I’ve got no real concerns about him,” he said.

In contrast to Warner, his Men’s Cricket World Cup opening partner Travis Head was at his belligerent best for Sunrisers Hyderabad, scoring over 500 runs at a strike rate closer to 200.

Some of his knocks (such as 89 not out off 30 versus Lucknow Super Giants in the group stage of the IPL) saw his clean-striking ability at its destructive best. Ponting attributed this to a free head space.

“He’s not worried about the negative of getting out. (In T20 Cricket) You’ve got to go out there and try in the first ball for six. If it comes off, it comes off. You’re away, your team’s away,” Ponting noted.

Ponting added that the player changed his approach to the game over the last couple of years, and the result was for everyone to see.

“(Earlier) he was worried about what someone might have said or what the media wrote if he got out playing a certain shot, rather than just going out and backing himself and scoring runs. So for me, that’s been the real change in him,” Ponting said.

Kolkata Knight Riders’ Mitchell Starc has been expensive with the ball and leaked runs at an economy closer to 11, but the left-armer found his rhythm in the closing stages of the tournament as he collected consecutive Player of the Match efforts in his final two matches.

Starc was making a comeback to the IPL for the first time since 2015 and was purchased for a hefty 24.75 crores by Kolkata Knight Riders.

“The expectation that comes with the price tag sometimes it makes players push out a little bit harder and try to do more than they need to do.” Ponting said.

Starc endured some of his worst spells at Eden Gardens, the home of Knight Riders, at one stage he’d given away runs at an economy of 14.8 in three successive home games.

Ponting opined that this was due to different conditions at play in India, and believed the player could’ve greater impact in slightly different conditions during the T20 World Cup.

“You know, conditions where Mitch is bowling at Eden Gardens, the ball didn’t really swing much there this year, and the ground is like, like it’s a small ground and the outfield’s like concrete,” Ponting noted.

“And when you’re bowling at Starc’s pace, inside edges that just make their way through the field end up going for four,” he said.

“It’s not the easiest place in the world to bowl fast, but, you know, if we go to the Caribbean where the wind’s a little bit slower and the ball’s not flying off the bat quite as hard, then Starc will have an impact,” Ponting said.

Marsh, Australia’s leader at the T20 World Cup, had a brief spell at the IPL before rushing back home due to an injury. Though he scored merely 61 runs, his strike rate was an impressive 160.52.

“He still, obviously, he left us at Delhi as well four or five games into the season with a hamstring tendon injury that I’m not sure he’s quite over just yet,” Ponting said while discussing Marsh.

Though Pat Cummins is present in the side, Marsh has been preferred as the T20I skipper by Australia selectors.

Ponting believed that captaincy fit naturally with some players and Marsh was one of them.

“But talking about (captaincy) he’s a rookie, but captaincy sits really well with him,” Ponting added.

“He’s never going to be anyone that overthinks it too much,” Ponting said.

“He’ll take responsibility for what he needs to have tactically and I think, you know, one thing I know about Mitch is all the players love him,” Ponting said.

“All the players respect him and will love playing under him,” he added.

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