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Sydney, Nov 30 – ICC Hall of Famer Ricky Ponting believes Cameron Bancroft is leading the race to succeed David Warner and partner Usman Khawaja at the top of Australia’s Test batting order.

Warner announced earlier this year that he plans to retire from the longest form of the game following the upcoming SCG Test against Pakistan and there are a host of openers eyeing off his place in the Australian team.

While Marcus Harris and Matthew Renshaw have been used as reserve batters in recent touring parties, Ponting thinks Bancroft has jumped to the front of the queue on the back of some sensational form at domestic level in Australia over the last few years.

The 31-year-old scored four centuries and made more runs than any other player during the 2022/23 summer in Australia’s domestic Sheffield Shield competition and is once again among the top run-scorers this season.

While Bancroft hasn’t played for his country since 2019, Ponting expects the in-form right-hander will be given another chance at international level, an ICC report said.

“If you look at those three guys, I think it’s quite clear that Bancroft is the one that’s got the runs on the board and I wouldn’t be surprised if they (selectors) go that way,” Ponting told Australian radio station SEN on Thursday.

“If you wind the clock back about six months it might have been a slightly different order than what it is now,” he said.

“I think they probably had Harris as the one that would come back in a while ago,” Ponting said.

“To me now it sort of feels (there is) a bit more of a groundswell behind Cameron Bancroft getting first crack,” he said.

Ponting also expects Mitch Marsh to remain in Australia’s first-choice Test XI on the back of his excellent recent form at the Ashes and the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup and that fellow all-rounder Cameron Green will have to bide his time and wait for his next chance.

“I think Cameron Green might just have to sit back and bide his time and wait for the opportunity to come back,” Ponting said.

“He can get a truckload of runs in Shield cricket and sort of force his way back into the side,” Ponting said.

“Labuschagne has been outstanding at No.3 for Australia, it’s very much a specialist position,” he added.

Australia’s series against Pakistan commences in Perth on December 14, with matches in Melbourne and Sydney to follow ahead of a two-match series against the West Indies at home in January.

Australia currently sit in third place in the ICC World Test Championship standings after they shared the spoils against arch-rival England when retaining the Ashes earlier this year.