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Cricket World Cup 2019

Ponting wants sit-down with top order to address short-ball demons

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Ricky Ponting, Australia’s assistant coach, wants a sit-down with the Australian top-order to break down, and attempt to solve, their problems against the short ball.

Australia’s top three crumbled in the face of the short stuff from West Indies in their previous game, slipping to 38-4 in the process, and Ponting said that before getting into the execution, he first wants to understand the mindset of the players when they are facing the delivery.

“I’ve got some notes written in my book about that exact thing,” Ponting told cricket.com.au. “I just want to know what’s going through his mind.

“For me, being back involved in the team now, I want to understand what they are thinking about at different times. It’s not always just about the execution, it’s about what’s going inside your mind that causes the poor shots.”

Usman Khawaja has had a particularly rough time against the short ball. After copping a blow to the head when he was struck by a bouncer from Andre Russell during last month’s warm-up match between the two sides, Khawaja was once again struck on the helmet during Thursday’s clash, which they won by 15 runs.

The nerves were evident thereafter, as he backed away to a fuller ball that was angled across him and sent a thick edge flying through to wicket-keeper Shai Hope.

“Usman got hit again, so he’s had a few hits in the last few weeks,” Ponting said. “I haven’t spoken to him (to see) if he’s rattled, but that’s part and parcel of top-order batting, against brand new balls, against guys who are bowling 140kph an hour. You’ve got to find a way to cope and a way to get through hostile spells knowing that it’s not going to last forever.”

After Khawaja’s dismissal, Glenn Maxwell attempted a hook – a shot he is not generally known to be too comfortable playing – and skied it straight up to Hope off the top-edge.

The events of Trent Bridge could potentially be no more than a precursor of things to come, with more such challenges, against potentially stronger bowling attacks awaiting the team in the future. Australia face India, who possess one of the best and most well-rounded bowling attacks in the tournament, next, and Ponting saw the chat as a means to both clear up the mind and be better-prepared.

“It’s just a little bit of a blip in the radar that we’ll have a chat about and make sure we’re prepared for the next game,” he said. “It could very well be a wake-up call. It could be just a good learning curve for those guys at the top and, hopefully, they’ll bounce back strong.”

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