Punter keen to ease the pressure on Langer
RICKY Ponting wants to take some of the pressure off Australian coach Justin Langer at the World Cup with the spotlight set to turn on the defending champions on and off the field.
Australia’s capacity to handle the circus around the re-inclusion of banned batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner will play a huge part in the team’s performance when the World Cup starts in England in June.
Ponting said the addition of the two batsmen put Australia, on paper at least, equal with tournament favourites England and India, a statement reflected in the odds. Bookmakers have Australia $7 third favourites to win a sixth World Cup.
But the former Test captain, who will work as an assistant to Langer for the tournament, was aware how important it was to handle the comebacks of Smith and Warner, with the focus set to turn on the duo when their playing bans end on March 28.
“All of us will have a big role to play in those guys coming back in to the team,” Ponting said on Sunday.
“It’s not just about those two. It’s about everyone in Australian cricket embracing those guys. We’re all big boys, I’m sure there will be some open and honest conversations about those boys coming back.
“I’m sure they will be having conversations among themselves now anyway. I know what Justin is like, I’m sure it will be handled in the right way.”
Ponting, who won three World Cups as a player, two as captain, said he was willing to take some of the pressure off Langer, as well as handle his workload as an assistant coach, conceding the new coach took over at a “difficult time” for Australian cricket.