Under pressure Australian limited overs captain Aaron Finch has received backing to keep his job from former great Ricky Ponting.
Ponting, who now works as the head of strategy for the Hobart Hurricanes, as well as holding down roles in the media and in the IPL, offered Finch some words of encouragement.
Finch is now aged 35, and speculation has continued to build over whether he will hold his place in the team for the 2023 ODI World Cup, to be held in India.
Australia will be under the pump to hit back at the tournament, having been bundled out at the semi-final stage against England during the 2019 tournament.
Speaking to Code Sports, Ponting drew on experiences at the end of his own career to provide Finch support.
“I don’t know where he’s at, headspace wise now,” Ponting said.
“But anyone that’s played the game as a batter has been there at some stage in their career. I know at the back-end of my career, when runs weren’t flowing quite as freely, the fact I was just trying too hard to be perfect and do everything right, I wasn’t allowing myself to free up and play the way I’ve always played.
“If I could give him any advice it’s, ‘Stop worrying about being perfect, stop worrying about getting out, and start thinking about scoring runs first’. If you think about scoring runs you’ll score runs, if you think about not getting out, you’ll get out. That’s certainly my experience in the game anyway.
“But he’s crucial for them. If he’s captain and scoring runs, and in good for leading into a World Cup, I’m sure the Australian team will be in a lot better place.”
Finch, who failed yet again on Sunday during the first ODI against Zimbabwe, has averaged just a tick over 17 in ODI cricket during the last 20 months, not making a 50 in his last nine attempts.
While it will be far too late to remove Finch from the T20 team ahead of the World Cup, to be held in Australia in October and November - there are only eight scheduled matches between now and the tournament for Australia - the ODI World Cup is still more than 12 months away and, including the New Zeland and Zimbabwe series, Australia have 23 ODIs to play in preparation.
With qualification for the tournament secure after the opening win over Zimbabwe in the first ODI on Sunday, Australia can now tinker with formulas and strategies as they see fit, and calls have grown loud for a part of that to be appointing a new captain - possibly Test captain Pat Cummins, who is currently being rested from both the Zimbabwe and New Zealand series.