Newly-appointed assistant coach of Australian cricket team Ricky Ponting believes that the presence of former skipper Steve Smith and opener David Warner in the team would certainly help them lift the World Cup title. The 44-year-old said that India and England are going to be two standout teams in the 2019 World Cup but if Smith and Warner are added to the Australian squad, then the team would look as strong as any.
“I actually do [think Australia can win the World Cup], England and India are probably the two standout teams right now, but if you add Warner and Smith back into that line-up, then that team looks as strong as any,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Ponting, as saying.
“I actually think Australian cricket is quite strong. Once we get Warner, Smith and Bancroft and those guys back into the fray, even looking ahead to the World Cup, I don’t think there’ll be too many better teams on paper going into the World Cup, and I’ve said that for a long time,” he added.
Smith, Warner, and pacer Cameron Bancroft were suspended for their role in the massive ball-tampering scandal in a Test series against South Africa, last tear. While Bancroft’s nine-month suspension has come to an end, the twelve-month ban term of Smith and Warner will expire on March 28.
The ball-tampering scandal sent jolts around the cricketing world but Ponting believes that ouster of Smith and Warner gave the youngsters an opportunity which is a positive thing.
“What having those experience guys out has done is give new guys an opportunity, so you’ve got a lot of experience as well as a fair bit of youth going into that tournament, which any team I’ve been a part of in World Cups, or any other big series we’ve played, we’ve always had a really good mix of youth, and experience and the current group will certainly have that,” Ponting said.
Picking the weak areas of the Australian team, the former skipper said that they really need to work on spin bowling.
“I think the thing that’s held us back really in the past few years in one-day cricket is how we’ve played spin bowling. That’s been an issue and it was certainly an issue when I was with the team in the UK last year,” he said.
“Moeen Ali and [Adil] Rashid tied our batsmen up. Looking at our line-up now there are potentially a few better players of spin in the middle order than what we had this time last year. That’s one area,” he said.
Ponting is a three-time World Cup winning captain and hoped that his experience would prove to be useful for the players.
“Hopefully I can have a good impact on the group and the way the boys play their cricket. I was lucky enough to play in a lot of World Cups, three winning ones, so I think I’ve got a pretty good grasp of what it takes for tournaments like that, and know this group pretty well,” he said.
“Hopefully I can have an impact right from the start, all the feedback from the boys so far has been pretty positive. I’ve had lots of text messages and things the last couple days, so looking forward to joining,” he added.
2019 cricket World Cup is slated to be held from May 30 to July 14 in England.
(With Agency Inputs)