'Absolute load of rubbish': Ponting backs Smith, Paine
Former skipper would have no issue if Steve Smith became captain again once his ban expires; backs Tim Paine to deliver with the bat at Edgbaston
4 August 2019, 02:30 PM AEST
Former Test skipper Ricky Ponting says any suggestion Steve Smith should not play a role in Australia’s tactical plans during the Ashes is "an absolute load of rubbish", adding the former skipper's hands-on approach at Edgbaston would have the full support of current captain Tim Paine.
And Ponting says he would have no problem with Smith captaining Australia again once his leadership ban expires next year.
Smith was his typically animated self on day three of the first Test in Birmingham, offering advice to spinner Nathan Lyon, directing fielders from his position at first slip and discussing strategy with Paine on numerous occasions.
Smith is banned from holding an official leadership position in Australian cricket until March 2020, as part of his sanction following the ball-tampering scandal, and his heavy on-field involvement on Saturday sparked commentary on social media and in both the Australian and English press about his role in the side.
"I read a bit of that stuff this morning, with people online going on about the fact he shouldn’t be doing it because he’s not captain," Ponting told cricket.com.au.
"That’s an absolute load of rubbish.
"He’s not captain. He’s not tossing the coin and he’s not picking the team. But an experienced guy like him with a cricket brain that he’s got, Tim would be silly to not try and tap into that and not try to use him when he can.
"He’s served his time as far as his playing suspension goes and everyone knows he can’t captain again until next year. He’s part of a team that is relying on him heavily for his experience, so he can help in whichever way and wherever he possibly can.
"And I’m sure if Painey or anyone around the team wasn’t happy with it, then it wouldn’t be happening."
Smith will be just 30 when his leadership ban expires next year and despite the pressures of the top job, Ponting says he would have no issue with the former skipper resuming the role at some stage.
"I haven’t really thought about, but personally I wouldn’t have any problem with it at all," he said.
"If the hierarchy at Cricket Australia have an issue with him ever being captain again, they would have given him a life ban, wouldn’t they? By banning him for just an extra 12 months, they think it’s OK for him to come back. So if the authorities think it’s OK, I’m happy with it as well."
Speaking after his match-turning century on day one, Smith said it is his responsibility to stand up as a senior player.
"I obviously don’t have the armband, and that’s OK,” he said. “I’m obviously an experienced player now … and you want your experienced players to stand up when it is difficult and to show the way."
Ponting also backed Paine to help Australia build a match-winning lead on what looms as a pivotal fourth morning of the match (from 8pm AEST).
Paine has posted just one half-century from 14 innings since taking over as skipper last year and the hot recent form of uncapped gloveman Alex Carey, the assumed successor to Paine as Australia’s Test wicketkeeper, led the likes of former skipper Mark Taylor this week to acknowledge the pressure on the skipper to fire in this series and hold his position in the side.
"He’s the best wicketkeeper in the world … and his first job in the team is to keep wicket and do a good job as captain," Ponting said.
"When you watch him bat, it’s always been the case with Painey; he looks a million dollars and probably doesn’t score as many runs as people would like him to.
"But he’s a tough and determined character and when things get at their toughest is when he plays his best.
"With this Test match pretty much on the line … he might be a significant part of these couple of hours (early on day four).
"I’m backing him every day of the week. He loves the challenge and for his team’s sake hopefully he can get the job done."
2019 Qantas Ashes Tour of England
Australia squad: Tim Paine (c), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner.
England squad: Joe Root (c), Moeen Ali, Jimmy Anderson, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes (vc), Olly Stone, Chris Woakes.
Tour match: Australians v Worcestershire, August 7-9
Second Test: August 14-18,Lord's
Third Test: August 22-26, Headingley
Tour match: Australians v Derbyshire, August 29-31
Fourth Test: September 4-8, Old Trafford
Fifth Test: September 12-16, The Oval