Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Legendary Australia captain Ricky Ponting sees no reason why the national team can’t triumph in the World Cup in England and Wales later this year.
Ponting, who was recently appointed as an assistant coach for Australia’s World Cup campaign, feels that the side will be boosted by the return of former captain Steve Smith and David Warner.
Smith and Warner are currently serving a year-long ban for their involvement in the ball tampering scandal during the team’s tour of South Africa last March.
However, they will both be eligible to play international cricket again on March 29.
“Absolutely,” Ponting was quoted as saying by the International Cricket Council (ICC) website when asked if Australia have a chance of winning the World Cup. “India and England are probably the two standout teams right now, but if you add Warner and Smith back into that line-up, then I think that team looks as strong as any.
“I am not just saying that because I am one of the coaches. I actually said it when I wasn’t around the group. Conditions in England will suit our style of play … I think Australia will be the one of the main contenders for sure.
“With the inclusion of two of the best one-day players in the world who have a lot of experience, all of a sudden the team starts looking a whole lot better. You will have guys that will handle a lot of pressure situations better because they have done it all before.”
While Smith and Warner both underwent elbow surgery after getting injured while playing in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL), they are both expected to make a full recovery prior to the start of the World Cup.
Pace bowlers Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc have also been sidelined with injuries, but Ponting recalled how Australia won the 2003 World Cup despite losing a number of key players.
“We went to World Cups with Michael Bevan injured, Darren Lehmann suspended, Warney (Shane Warne) went home and Jason Gillespie went home,” he said. “World Cups very rarely run exactly to plan … All the planning right now is we will have all those guys in the squad and if we do, it looks as good as any squad on paper.”
Australia begin their World Cup campaign against Afghanistan in Bristol on June 1.