MELBOURNE: Steve Smith is Australia’s best player and should bat at number three in the Test order, former skipper Ricky Ponting said Thursday while praising the new captain’s drive and ability.
Ponting said he was at odds with Smith suggesting he may bat at No.4 and not at first wicket down during next month’s home three-Test series against New Zealand.
“I’ve always said, the best player should bat at No.3 and I think he’s clearly our best player right now,” he told reporters after being inducted into the Sport Australia Hall Of Fame late Wednesday.
Smith took over as captain after the retirement of Michael Clarke following Australia’s 3-2 Ashes series loss in England in August.
“He’s an exceptionally driven young bloke,” Ponting said of Smith.
“He wants to be the greatest player of all time and that’s a great thing to have. He wants to be the greatest player that Australia’s had and that’s fantastic.
“He’ll have a great relationship with the coach, he’ll have a great relationship with the selectors, because that’s just the sort of kid that he is, and he’ll make sure everyone in that dressing room is treated the same way.”
Ponting, 40, who scored 13,378 runs in 168 Tests at 51.85, said the Ashes series loss was a rare blemish for Australia’s national team.
He expects the home side to have straightforward Test series wins this southern summer over New Zealand and the West Indies.
“I have no concerns at all with Australian cricket,” he said.
“Yes, we lost the Ashes [but] if you look at what we’ve done for the last couple of years, everyone we’ve come up against, we’ve won well whether that’s home or away.
“We’ll beat New Zealand and we’ll beat the West Indies comfortably, that’s the way I see the summer going.”
The first Test against New Zealand is at Brisbane’s Gabba from November 5.