Former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting ‘absolutely’ believes his country can win the upcoming Cricket World Cup in England, but the big-scoring batsman took pains to stress that his faith is not due to the fact that he’s taken up a new role as assistant to head coach Justin Langer.
Buoyed by the experience of having personally played in three World Cup-winning sides (1999, 2003 and 2007), and despite the alarming statistics of his countrymen over the past year in Test and white-ball cricket, Ponting has faith that the Aussie army are contenders for the Cup.
‘England and India are probably the two standout teams right now, but if you add Warner and Smith back into (the Australian) line-up, then that team looks as strong as any,’ said Ponting. ‘I’m not just saying that because I’m one of the coaches, I’ve actually said it when I wasn’t around the group. I absolutely feel we can – the conditions in England will suit our style of play as well.’
‘Punter’ Ponting, as he is known in cricketing circles, added that when the World Cup betting odds are released, he is sure they will back up his confidence in Australia’s chances.
‘I actually think Australian cricket’s 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.
‘Having those experienced guys out has given new guys an opportunity, so you’ve got a lot of experience as well as a fair bit of youth going into that tournament. We’ve always had a really good mix of youth and experience, and the current group will certainly have that.’
Ponting highlighted Australia’s struggles against spin bowling as a factor in their recent decline, and it’s an area Australia need to strengthen ahead of a World Cup that will be played on spin-friendly England tracks.
‘That’s been an issue and it was certainly an issue when I was with the team in the UK last year. 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 we had this time last year. That’s one area.
‘If you think about English wickets as well, the wickets probably shouldn’t spin too much throughout the World Cup, and with the inclusion of two of the best one-day players in the world, and a lot of experience, all of a sudden the team starts looking a lot better. You’ll have guys who handle pressure situations a lot better just because they’ve been there and done that before.’
Photo: Cricket Australia