Cowan, Warner top duo for job

Australia's Ed Cowan plays a cut shot during the fourth day of the first Test between Australia and Sri Lanka in Hobart yesterday. Picture: GETTY IMAGES
Australia's Ed Cowan plays a cut shot during the fourth day of the first Test between Australia and Sri Lanka in Hobart yesterday. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

AUSTRALIA'S all-time leading run- scorer Ricky Ponting has endorsed Ed Cowan and David Warner as the Test team's ideal opening partnership.

On the day the two New South Wales-born left-handers enjoyed their longest opening stand, Ponting said he believes they have the attributes required to set up big scores for Michael Clarke's team.

Warner (68) and Cowan (56) put on 132 together in 41 overs at Bellerive Oval yesterday, both making half- centuries in the longest opening stand by an Australian pair since the end of Simon Katich's Test career.

However, their departures shortly before lunch prompted a mini-collapse that saw the other nine batsmen make the same contribution of 132 runs as the Sri Lankans set themselves a victory target of 393.

Ponting, who turns 38 tomorrow, said there was plenty of evidence to suggest that Cowan and Warner are the perfect openers.

"We've seen reasons why they are with Ed's hundred in Brisbane and then the way Davey set up the game in Adelaide in the next Test," he said.

"That's the way we hoped they could both play - Ed can be the guy that grinds the runs out and becomes a consistent opening batsman and when Davey's playing well he can set games up in a session and that's what we saw.

"For us to score 480-odd in a day is quite remarkable and he was a big part of that. Both those guys have to find some high level consistency and I think they're both good enough to do it."

Ponting, whose Test retirement was acknowledged with a lap of honour during the lunchbreak on Friday, also voiced his opinion on the hot topic of the national team's best wicketkeeper.

Matthew Wade appears to have leap- frogged fellow Hobartian Tim Paine and New South Welshman Brad Haddin in the pecking order, although his glove work has not been faultless in his home town.

"Wadey's got some work to do on his game as all young blokes coming into the Australian team have to do, but there's only one way to make it better and that's to be exposed to the highest level and being around the best players and coaches," Ponting said.

"Wadey's overall package we glimpsed in Perth. The 60-odd he got there showed how well he can play at the highest level with the bat, and his keeping is very solid.

"I've played a lot of cricket with Hads and totally respect him as a player. His wicketkeeping was outstanding and his batting was very good, but more importantly he was just a good, solid, hard competitor to have around your team, and I loved every moment of playing with Hads.

"You're splitting hairs preferring one over the other, and that's why I think it took them so long at the start of the summer."

Ponting said his Hobart Hurricanes and Tasmanian Tigers teammate Paine was also not out of the equation, having recovered from a long-term finger injury.

"Paine's got everything he needs to be a very good international player, there's no doubt about that.

"I think this Big Bash will be very good for him. He's probably played the first few Shield games and one- dayers putting a bit too much pressure on himself.

"Now that he's fit and healthy again, he wanted to be out there and impress really quickly, and I've been in that position where you've been dropped and you want to go back out there and score a hundred and another and another and it doesn't work that way.

"But I think with the Big Bash he might be able to let the handbrakes off and relax a bit and gain some confidence out of that."


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