Only three Australian batsmen are certain to start the summer Test series against Pakistan, according to former skipper Ricky Ponting, with David Warner among them.
Ponting, who has been a sounding board for coach Justin Langer in recent months, unsurprisingly nominated the in-form Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne as the other two.
That leaves holes to fill and Australia’s greatest run scorer said he would like to see young prospect Will Pucovski, who has battled mental health issues, given a debut in the first Test at the Gabba on November 12.
“Warner’s going to be a lock,” Ponting told cricket.com.au, despite the opener having a miserable Ashes tour where he has struggled to get into double digits.
“I don’t care if he gets another duck in the second innings of this Test match (at the Oval), he’s going to be a lock for the Australian summer. Marnus is an absolute lock. Smith’s a lock.
“(There are) still question marks around the guys in the middle, (Matthew) Wade and (Travis) Head,” he added. “(Opener Marcus) Harris has looked tested against good quality fast bowling in this series.”
Australia have chopped and changed their top and middle order against England, with Usman Khawaja and Cameron Bancroft among those dropped after failing to fire.
Their lack of form could open the door to Joe Burns and Kurtis Patterson, who were controversially left out of the squad for England despite making centuries in their last home Test against Sri Lanka.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Alex Carey could also get a look in, although Ponting said Tim Paine should continue as captain during the summer Tests against Pakistan and New Zealand.
“With so many gaps like that, I’d like to see somebody like Pucovski get an opportunity,” he added.
“Everyone’s talked about him for a long time. A couple of years before the next Ashes series you want to try and blood someone in that No.6 role and he’d be the obvious candidate.”
The 21-year-old smashed a superb 243 for Victoria against Western Australia last season, which saw him parachuted into the national setup for two Tests against Sri Lanka.
He was overlooked for the first one in Brisbane and again missed out on selection for the second in Canberra before being released to deal with mental health issues.
He had suffered similar problems in the past.