Punter keen to ease the pres­sure on Langer

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - Cricket -

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.

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