Steve Smith and David Warner, who are expected to make a return to international cricket at ICC Men’s World Cup 2019, will have to earn their places in the Australian squad, said former captain Ricky Ponting.
Australia came from behind to win the ODI series 3-2 against India, which has increased their confidence and the competition for places among batsmen. Smith and Warner make their returns after one-year suspensions in hope of bolstering Australia’s batting at the World Cup.
Taking up a role as assistant coach for Australia, Ponting said that Australia’s series win in India will make it difficult for the duo to earn spots. Speaking to Times of India, Ponting said, “They still have to prove they are the best players, especially on the back of what has happened in the recent ODIs against India. Those guys have not played any high-level cricket for a long time. IPL becomes really important for them.”
“If it’s Warner, Smith, Khawaja, Finch, Maxwell, Turner, Zampa, Starc, Cummins and Hazlewood … it ends up being a pretty amazing line-up as well, with Nathan Lyon as the second spinner,” said Ponting. “There’s great depth there. Two weeks ago, not many would have been talking about Australia as Cup contenders. Now, all of a sudden, they’re right back in the calculations.”
Ponting feels that despite the home series loss, India remain a dangerous side under Virat Kohli. “Virat’s ODI record … is unbelievable,” he said. “That’s why I feel India are a very dangerous side. If Virat has a good World Cup, India will win.”
“His numbers show that he is the best. How old is he? Maybe 30, and he is going to play another 200 games. I don’t think there will be many people who are going to argue against him being the best,” he added.
Smith and Warner are currently in India to play for Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad respectively in the new season of the Indian Premier League.