Ponting: Ashes will be Smith’s biggest challenge

“It’s those series that you are remembered for as a leader and as a player as well”

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Ex-Australia captain Ricky Ponting has admitted that current skipper Steve Smith will come under intense scrutiny when his side take on England in a highly-anticipated Ashes series in November.

Smith and the rest of his team-mates are coming off a disappointing showing at the Champions Trophy, where England eliminated them from the tournament after claiming a 40-run win via the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method.

With Smith’s predecessor Michael Clarke having announced his retirement after the last Ashes series in 2015, which England won 3-2, Smith will now step up to the plate and lead Australia for the first time in the historic event.

With the Baggy Greens having home advantage, many people are expecting them to regain the coveted urn.

But, Ponting believes that it will be much easier said than done as Australia will be under pressure both on and off the field.

“(Smith) has got his biggest challenge coming up,” Ponting told Fox Sports. “An Ashes series as an Australian or England captain is the biggest thing that you play for and the biggest thing of your captaincy life.

“Fortunately or unfortunately, it’s those series that you are remembered for as a leader and as a player as well.”

In their most recent Test series, Australia were beaten 2-1 when they travelled to India for four Tests. However, they won the first Test in Pune and subsequently ended their 12-year winless streak in India.

As of now, Smith’s Test record as captain sits at 12 wins, seven losses and five draws. While this may raise a few eyebrows in the cricketing community, Ponting conceded that he has been impressed with Smith’s leadership thus far.

“I think Steve Smith has done a terrific job captaining the Australian team,” Ponting, who is Australia’s most successful captain with 48 Test wins, said. “He’s got a very level head on his shoulders, he’s obviously playing the best cricket of his life right at the moment, which says a lot about how the responsibility sits with him.”

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