Australia can defend World Cup title: Ponting

Indo Asian News Service

Melbourne, Feb 10 (IANS) Former captain Ricky Ponting on Sunday said Australia can defend the World Cup which begins later this year in England.

"Absolutely," Ponting was quoted as saying by the ICC on Sunday when asked if he thought Australia could defend their title.

Ponting, who is also Australia's assistant coach, said while India and England are the "standout" teams, Australia look as strong as any with the addition of Steve Smith and Davis Warner who are serving one-year bans at the moment.

"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 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," he added. "You will have guys that will handle a lot of pressure situations better because they have done it all before."

The bans of Smith and Warner will run till March 28 but the two have been under an injury cloud, with Smith especially facing a spell on the sidelines after elbow surgery. Australia also have injury concerns about speedsters Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc, but Ponting shrugged it off.

"We went to World Cups with Michael Bevan injured, Darren Lehmann suspended, Warney (Shane Warne) went home and Jason Gillespie went home," Ponting remembered of his time in the tournament.

"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."

--IANS

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