Oz can win WC with Smith, Warner: Ponting

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - TIMES SPORT -

Mel­bourne: Aus­tralia can suc­cess­fully de­fend its World Cup ti­tle in Eng­land this year with Steve Smith and David Warner back in the fray, newly-ap­pointed as­sis­tant coach Ricky Ponting said on Sun­day. His up­beat as­sess­ment comes de­spite the mis­fir­ing team los­ing its two most re­cent ODI se­ries at home, to In­dia and South Africa. “Ab­so­lutely, I ac­tu­ally do,” said Ponting when asked in Mel­bourne if Aus­tralia could win the World Cup.

“In­dia and Eng­land are prob­a­bly the two stand­out teams right now but if you add Warner and Smith back into that lineup, I think that team looks as strong as any. Con­di­tions in Eng­land will suit our style of play,” added Ponting, who was ap­pointed on Fri­day as as­sis­tant to coach Justin Langer for the World Cup, fo­cus­ing on the bat­ting group.

The former na­tional cap­tain is hugely ex­pe­ri­enced in the one-day game, play­ing at five World Cups and win­ning at three. “I think I have a pretty good grasp on what it takes for tour­na­ments like that,” he said. “Hope­fully I can have an im­pact right from the start. The feed­back from the boys has been pos­i­tive.”

Ponting, a close ally of Langer, will start af­ter Aus­tralia’s up­com­ing one­day tours against In­dia and Pak­istan.

Smith and Warner are avail­able for se­lec­tion again from March 29, when their one-year bans for ball-tam­per­ing ex­pire. Cameron Ban­croft, who was sus­pended for nine months, is al­ready back play­ing.

“Once we get Warner and Smith and Ban­croft back into the fray, and look­ing ahead to the World Cup, I don’t think they’ll be too many better teams on pa­per. “You’ve got a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence as well as a fair bit of youth go­ing into that tour­na­ment,” he added. “Any team I’ve been a part of, we’ve al­ways had a re­ally good mix of youth and ex­pe­ri­ence and this cur­rent group will cer­tainly have that go­ing into the World Cup.”

Ponting, who played 375 one-day­ers and 168 Tests, pre­vi­ously worked as an as­sis­tant with Aus­tralia’s Twenty20 side in 2017 and 2018. He also ac­com­pa­nied Langer dur­ing his first tour -- to Eng­land -- af­ter tak­ing over as head coach from Dar­ren Lehmann last April fol­low­ing the tam­per­ing scan­dal in South Africa.

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