Ricky Ponting offers batting advice to Labuschagne, Head before crucial second Ashes Test against England

Sports Sunday 25/June/2023 10:06 AM
Ricky Ponting offers batting advice to Labuschagne, Head before crucial second Ashes Test against England

London : Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting is ready to offer some technical advice to batters Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head before the second Ashes Test against England at The Lord's Ground.

The second Ashes Test between Australia and England begins at Lord's on Wednesday. Australia won by two wickets in the first match of the current ICC World Test Championship cycle, thanks to a series of outstanding individual performances.

However, Labuschagne and Head did not stand out, with the world's third and fourth-ranked Test batters both struggling to reach their best form at Edgbaston.

In the five years since his debut, Labuschagne's Test career has been a resounding success, but only one of his ten hundreds has come outside Australia, and his average on the road is more than 30 runs lower than his home stats.

Speaking on The ICC Review, the former Australian captain believes Labuschagne needs to get back to basics in order to succeed in the current Ashes series, and he is willing to chat with the 28-year-old one-on-one.

"I'll wait for them to come and ask me. It's not my place, I'm not one of the coaches, I'm just a past player that's sitting back and analysing what a lot of these guys are doing. But I would like to catch up with him and have a chat about his batting because I think what I've seen over the last couple of weeks, as far as I'm concerned, I think he's overcomplicating things a little bit," Ponting said.

"I think he has to trust and believe in what's made him the No.2-ranked Test batsman in the world for the last couple of years and go back to trusting that. That's all I'd say to him really. I would actually tell him to go and watch some footage and watch some video of when he's actually played his best, and remember those things and go and do that all over again," he added.

Head, Labuschagne's teammate, struggled in the first Test as England peppered the Australian No.5 with short-pitched bowling.

Head was well set before India used a similar technique in the ICC World Test Championship Final earlier this month, scoring the highest score in the game 163.

And Ponting believes that Head must devise a strategy to overcome England's bowlers' early phase of assault.

"Firstly, he's now going to be aware that it's going to happen. He's going to expect that," Ponting noted.

"So therefore I think he has to work at it in his own mind. What's the best way for him to combat that type of bowling? Is it going to be to take it on? Is he going to have success if he tries to hook and pull balls that are into his body? Does he find a way to be able to duck and weave and get out of the way a bit better and try and wear the bowlers down?" he added.

Ponting believes that the major threat to Head will be if England shuffles their bowling attack to include the pace of Mark Wood in the second Test at Lord's.

"I mean, the thing with these sort of plans generally in Test cricket is there's only normally one bowler in a team that can do it. And we saw that even the other day with (Ollie) Robinson, he's not really going to worry you doing it. Stuart Broad was probably their quickest bowler last week," Ponting said.

"Ben Stokes has been the enforcer for England in the past doing that, but his body's not going to allow him to do that role for England either. Coming into Lord's, it could be Mark Wood. They might bring Wood into the team, which offers something a bit different. He's obviously a lot quicker and bowls a really good short ball," said the former Australia captain.

"He (Head) has to be aware of it, and if there is only the one bowler in the team that he thinks can do it, then find a way to get through that one spell. If they're running in and trying to bowl really fast, they can only do it for three or four overs. If you can get through that, then you're going to be fine," he added.