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Legendary captain Ricky Ponting believes that “Australia can be confident about seeing the national cricket team in Smith’s hands”.
Smith was named stand-in captain after regular skipper Michael Clarke was ruled out for the rest of the series against India after he tore his hamstring and injured his back during the first Test in Adelaide.
“Australia can be confident about seeing the national cricket team in Smith’s hands,” Ponting wrote in his column for ESPNcricinfo. “It is a great shame that Clarke’s body has not held up well this summer, and ideally it would have been nice to see Steve have another 12 months or so before taking on the job. But as the next long-term captain in the selectors’ eyes, these next three Tests against India will do him a world of good.”
While many people expected Brad Haddin to take over as captain since he was Clarke’s deputy, Cricket Australia decided to go with a more long-term option.
“For now, though, the captaincy rests with Steven, [who completed] a journey to leadership that began when I handed him his baggy green cap at Lord’s against Pakistan five years ago,” Ponting wrote. “Steven then made 77 in his second Test match, at Headingley. We had been bowled out for 88 on the first day and were well behind in the game. Pakistan eventually scrambled home in the fourth innings, but Steven’s knock gave us a chance.
“Batting with the tail, he played all the shots, taking on Danish Kaneria in particular with a pair of sixes down the ground. We were sitting there in the team viewing area hoping he would go on to a hundred, and while Steven fell short, I never forgot how much poise he showed that day.”
Ponting also noted that he loves how Smith is always looking to win games when he comes out to bat.
“Something else I have liked about Steven’s batting is how he has taken on responsibility for winning games in recent times,” Ponting wrote. “He has shown that particularly in the past two ODI series. When he got a chance to bat at No. 3 against Pakistan he made a fine hundred, and then against South Africa he was the man who got Australia over the line when they had looked down and out.
“He has got all the qualities to be a long-term leader and he’s already developing a reputation as the man who can rescue Australia when all seems lost.”